About three years ago I started taking online workshops from Ariel Gore and her now infamous Literary Kitchen. I’d read her hilarious writing manual http://www.amazon.com/Become-Famous-Writer-Before-Youre/dp/030734648X/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1344825728&sr=8-2&keywords=ariel+gore and used it in my creative writing courses before. Why not take a class from the writer herself?
It became a bit of an addiction. Unlike graduate school where I felt slightly alienated from my fellow writers in that none of us seems to be coming from even remotely the same place, and unlike writing conferences and reviews that had that snooty if you aren’t in New York then you are nothing feel, Ariel’s Literary Kitchen felt like home.
So for three years, I’ve been cranking out pieces of my memoir, writing assignments, and other things and here’s the part where it is totally different from graduate school—I’ve been publishing stuff left and right. Ariel’s classes are filled with students/proteges that don’t flinch and aren’t afraid to show you real life. In her classes I’ve read the real life stories of mothers, lovers, people down on their luck, their lives brought to the brink by addictions, religions, the suburban souless void, sex work, and above all else the wonderment of parenting alone and partnered. We’ve traveled around the world; we know what it’s like to sleep in a doorway and drink great champagne. There’s no shame. There’s no judgement. There’s no guilt. There’s none of the fetishistic racism of some graduate programs. There’s just women sharing stories with an occasional man here and there. We write all sorts of stuff. The literary, the punk, the avant garde, the genre.
We kept wondering though. What are these sisters of the craft like in person? You can’t read people’s life stories for three years and not feel like you know them. But could we hang in person? I’d heard of writing retreats and such where people get together to discuss craft and create art but usually while not excluding women they don’t help women’s circumstances.
Women often have children. The male literary establishment has no place for adhering to working on craft and attending to children at the same time. But take a woman away from her children for a workshop or writing retreat and you have a woman who can’t concentrate because she’s wondering the whole time who is doing what, are the kids okay, bored and missing her. Why is having your children with you such a big deal? It seems natural to us that kids should come with us.
So we women writers assembled, many with our children , a couple with husbands and had a weekend of creative supportive and inspirational moments to help us move forward in our various projects. And it amounts to us being whole people. We are writers with families—we create with these creations that we have also created: families.
1st campout was a success. I look forward to the next one. And highly encourage women writers yearning for a room of one’s own to realize that perhaps along with that alone time are moments when the whole family can come together to support the writer in the family.