Where the turf drops off into a grass-hidden culvert,
Haunt of the cat-bird, nesting-place of the field-mouse...
One learned of the eternal..." - from "The Far Field," a poem by Theodore Roethke
You may recall reading here about a writer's conference I attended two years ago on Bainbridge Island at lovely IslandWood. The organization which hosted the conference is called Field's End, and local author David Guterson is one of its founders. I attended with a bit of fear and trembling; it felt presumptuous to call myself a "writer," just as it has always felt presumptuous to call myself an "artist," though I majored in art in college and have many years of experience in creative expression.
Criticism of the product - whatever I produced - is part of the classroom experience for an art major, and I internalized all of the many critiques I received, until I began to experience fear and blockage when faced with a blank canvas...so I stopped painting altogether. That's what I call an artistic injury.
There is a wonderful painter/teacher named Flora Bowley whose writing and approach to art (and living) is helping me to re-visit this injury, and to breathe healing energy toward that place. I hope - someday - to attend one of her workshops, and for now, am benefiting from reading and reflecting on her blog postings and newsletters.
Back to writing: after Katie died, writing became a lifeline for me, and I grabbed hold of it, writing freely and frequently. Writing has always felt like a natural outcome of my inclination to talk and to process my feelings verbally. Though I wrote regularly on several blogs (this one, and three on my sidebar: Katie's Comforters Guild, the Katie Gerstenberger Endowment and Hopeful Parents), I didn't think of myself as, nor dare to call myself, a "writer."
I wrote and published "Because of Katie," served as a speaker, was published in magazines, but still the inner critic slid over from the painter-side of my brain and whispered, "...But you SELF-published your book; you're not a REAL writer, yet!" So I was hesitant to even attend this workshop. Thanks to encouragement from warm-hearted friends who also wanted to attend, I went anyway - and loved it.
|A post-writer's-workshop function|
A few weeks ago, Field's End put out a call for volunteers, and though I couldn't attend the meeting to learn what they needed, I replied to the call and arranged to meet two of the members of the Core Team afterward. I thought I might be able to help with hospitality, registration and whatnot. It was fun to meet both Barbara and Kathleen; they are welcoming, encouraging, kind and open-minded. We shared a lively brainstorming session, and the result of that meeting is this: I was invited to join, and am now a member of, Field's End's Core Team! It's an exciting step for me.
Field's End recently sent out a questionnaire to its mailing list and received 400 responses; that is a sure sign of a vibrant writers' community! Their mission statement includes these words:
The core team seeks to encourage writers who have not yet started, and desire to do so, as well as those who are farther down the path of writing; those who have self-published as well as those who have a publisher. It's a welcoming organization, not a snobbish/exclusive one, and I sense that there will be no artistic injuries inflicted here; perhaps even repair and restoration may come to those who have been silenced by an inner (or an outer) critic. I can hardly wait to see what unfolds."Field's End serves the writers' community and nurtures the written word through lectures, workshops, and instruction in the art, craft, and profession of writing."