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Listen to Your Mother…The Start of it All

 

Ah Listen to Your Mother Plumas County goes up on May 20. I think I have something to say about all this.

So those that were going along trying to have a career and suddenly became mothers and then began a somewhat different trajectory than anticipated might relate to me when I say that in 2002 when I became pregnant with my first kid, I switched paths…I chose to teach instead of write feeling like the income would be steadier. My husband and I chose the mountains over the cities thinking that a smaller town might be less nerve wracking–that and raising our kids by my mother. I felt strongly (still do) that kids need extended family close by.

What I’d been planning to do before meeting the awesome husband/father of my children was to be a novelist and live in a studio apartment in the city and have crazy wild adventures to write about. The end. So stupid, I know. You don’t have to  tell me.

But my writing was dormant and my mothering was full and my thoughts kept to myself for the most part. I’d slowly started writing again when the kids were toddlers. A colleague at a website I worked for told me about LTYM and said I was funny and should totally send them something (thank you, Lela Davidson). She’d been in LTYM down in Arkansas. Okay I thought–what have I got to lose? Besides Lela thinks I’m funny.

Living in a small fairly conservative town makes you not quite sure who your audience is when you’re a person like me. I was writing a story about my kids having lesbian grandmothers. Well shit. I mean if that won’t fly in a San Francisco LTYM where will it?

The week of auditions was a messed up one for me and my buddy Emily. We were both strapped for cash and hitting the city like reckless teenagers. We crashed at her sister’s in the Mission (thanks Elizabeth Creely) and ate sparingly and spent our only cash on booze and gas money. The kids stayed with their father and my mom.

It felt like a weekend I needed to have.

I was unsure whether my reading went well or not or how many people were in the running. There were these two very sweet really quite adorable women hosting the audition–but they were mostly good about keeping a pokerface and I left thinking that was cool ! Good experience. Now back to mothering and my low lying existence. (Thank you, Kim Thompson Steel and Kristin).

And then they emailed and I was in and soon enough heading back west on the I-80 to meet the cast. That first round of readings we were all balling our eyes out at the sad ones and then came my story and everyone was laughing and I was so happy because I so wanted to make people laugh and I wasn’t having to explain what was funny and everyone got it and I felt so relieved. I felt like I’d known this room full of women (and one man) for a very long time and we’d just met.

Fast forward…

And then a  year later my SF 2012 LTYM video went viral. Whoa. Thanks Upworthy.

Since that first LTYM show five years ago, I’ve quit teaching all the time and am now writing for a meager living (and sometimes teaching on the side). My kids are teens and tweens now and don’t like to be written about because MOM JUST STOP ALREADY.

LTYM gave me the confidence that was dormant in me. Courage. And I’ve brought the show up to the mountains for four years now. Including this year.  It has been an important part of me gaining confidence for the next steps in my life. In my mothering. In my writing. I hope that has also been conveyed to the women ( and one man thus far) who have done the show in Plumas County. They’ve all had important perspectives to lend to the mothering discussion. Humor and sorrow. A chance to be real.

I’m happy to be back for the final year of LTYM and be part of our grand finale. Next year co-director Tina Terrazas and I have plans to do a different storytelling event in its place. We also have our third play together to produce and direct in February 2018.

And um, Thanks Ann Imig! Thank you for coming up with this crazy idea and spawning all these dormant writers to spread their wings.

But all the bustle and writing/publishing/stage work I’ve done since the SF 2012 LTYM show really does start there. The moment those two directors decided my story needed to be heard. Below is my debut…

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Wayward Writer Retreat

I am bone tired and weary. I have biceps I haven’t had since my kids were toddlers. I am happy to say we have only 20 more boxes to open at the library–and hopefully none will come tomorrow. We are few people and we need to catch up. The generosity is overwhelming.  Thank you. Thank you cards have begun and imagine they will take the better part of the fall semester to complete. I hope a thank you here is also enough as some boxes came in damaged in parts and addresses were not always readable. Please be patient. I’ve had a few emails from people thinking perhaps that we have 200 people and a sophisticated technology set up to respond. Alas we have a couple dozen people who donate time when they can. And we have one very exhausted me who has some reinforcements coming this week thank goodness.

I also have something wonderful to look forward to. The 5th Annual Wayward Writers Retreat begins on July 29th to July 31st. Writers I know and their children hang out and share food and writing prompts and talk writing for three days. There’s no cost except to get here and share what you can. One just has to be part of the community (pitch in with food, camp stuff, booze–etc). All of us at one point or another took online classes at at Ariel Gore’s Literary Kitchen.

Ours is a different sort of retreat….so many workshops and retreats for writers are really based on the premise that writers remain childless with disposable income. There are very few conferences with options for childcare  ( I can’t think of any actually). We bring our kids. And they hang out –these children of writers (honestly, my daughter has quipped before that it’s pretty much a support group for children of writers).

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This was taken at the 4th Annual Wayward Writers Retreat.

This year the lovely and wonderful Michelle Gonzales will be doing a reading and book signing at Musicland in downtown Greenville on Friday, July 30th at 6 pm. Her book The Spitboy Rule came out this Spring on PM PRESS. Musicland is located in downtown Greenville on Main Street.

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Then on Saturday, July 30th, Lasara Firefox Allen will be doing a book signing and reading at Epilog Books in Quincy, CA.

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Fresh off the presses! Lasara Firefox Allen’s Jailbreaking the Goddess.

Then on Saturday night at 7 p.m. all the writers from the retreat get together for a public reading at the Main Street Lounge in downtown Quincy. It’s open to the public and free and always a treat! And afterwards a swanky mid-century loving band called The Glides all the way from Phoenix is playing in the Sports bar downstairs.13502068_1035695323185494_8744355131614990132_nIMG_7974 Doesn’t this just look divine?

 

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And of course when we aren’t reading and writing we’ll be immersed in all things beautiful Plumas County. I’m hoping for a trip to Indian Falls and one to the hot springs in Twain if it isn’t too hot. And of course there’s promise of a ride on a private carousel.

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We may be a tiny town in the mountains without many amenities–but we do know how to put on a decent little retreat for some amazing writers who really need more people reading them. If you’re in town, come to the reading on July 30th. It will be quite a treat.

 

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