Friday, July 20, 2007

A Must-See Documentary about Writers

Ken Browne Productions

This wonderfully insightful documentary features the famous NH writing workshop held every Monday in the summer at Skimmilk Farm. I recently ordered a copy, and I will treasure this film for years to come. It features former Poet Laureate of Portsmouth writers Marie Harris (Poet Laureate, 1999-2004) and Mimi White (Poet Laureate, 2005-2007), as well other very talented New England poets. Jean Pedrick herself, who founded the workshop, was a published poet. This group of talented writers shared their writing and their love of the artistic process at these meetings. Jean Pedrick passed away in 2006 and will be missed by all those who knew her or who were touched by her artistry as readers of her work. Her legacy of writing and mentorship will indeed live on.

Ken Browne does a very professional and touching portrait of these writers who engaged in meaningful discussions about their artform in order to evolve as artists of the written word. I was entranced by the energy that these writers shared and put forth, simply by discussing their drafts and reciting their words aloud to the group.

I think what I love most about the Skimmilk Workshops is that Jean Pedrick didn't charge any of the writers a tuition fee. All they had to bring was their writing and something homemade to share for lunch. What a wonderful exchange of sustenance ~ poetry and food. Of course, poetry IS food for the soul!

Mondays at Skimmilk aired on New Hampshire Public Television as part of National Poetry Month. To order a copy of this must-see documentary, please visit the website listed above for Ken Browne Productions. You will be rewarded with a rich viewing experience!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

So when do you get to call yourself a writer anyway?!

If your fingers get fidgety and your whole body gets a literary rash that itches all over, until you put words down on the page – then you are a writer.

If you wake up in the middle of the night with part of a dream still fresh in your head, and you think it would make a great beginning to a story – then you are a writer.

If you feel your breath coming to you at a slower, more relaxed pace after writing just one paragraph that excites you, because something has been joyously released from your soul – then you are a writer.

If you go for a nature walk (OK a walk in your neighborhood with your iPod on shuffle, grooving to the tunes) and after hearing a red-winged blackbird sing, you decide that you absolutely must power walk home, as quickly as your chicken legs will take you, so that you can write about the way that bird's call mimics a pool cue being chalked up before a game in your journal (one of the many that I keep telling you to scatter about your house like pixie dust) – then you are a writer (of very long, run-on sentences!).

If you read every issue of Poets & Writers Magazine, and the articles about writing are inked up or highlighted beyond recognition – then congratulations, you are a writer just like me, who is a little kooky but your family loves you.

OK, I’m running out of IF’s …

So, my final bit of writer cheerleading is a serious note:

Being published isn’t the definition of being a writer. It may give you temporary affirmation that you are a writerly person, and some people out there in Barnes & Noble Land may read and enjoy your books. The truth is that you are a writer simply because you regularly make the effort to put pen to paper. It is something that you MUST do; otherwise, you wouldn’t be YOU!

Congratulations! (I thought of one more IF) – if you love to write, and nothing else quite makes you feel as alive, as connected to the universe, then you are a writer indeed.

Happy Writing!