My friend Drew Lamm is a Canadian author who has published several works of fiction including a YA novel, Bittersweet, a short story called Stay True in an anthology of the same name, four nonfiction picture books with The Smithsonian and four with NYC publishers. Her poems have appeared in various anthologies. She’s been running workshops for women writers for over 10 years in Fairfield County, CT, and having met some of the participants, I wanted to know what made these workshops so unusual. I asked Drew how her workshops differ from others available in Fairfield County and New York.
Here’s what she had to say:
DL: These workshops are a party where spirits are fed, souls watered. I don’t mean to sound cute, but it’s difficult to explain why women keep coming back, some for over ten years. I fashion something essential here, around creating and community – something most of us are starving for. I offer a safe, supportive, vital place where women discover the poetic/meaning in their lives through writing. I help refresh their true voices and vital spirit.
Their stunning writing often feels more like a bonus, rather than the main fare. And yet, whether non writers up through experts, they become brilliant at writing easily and naturally.
DL: ‘A teapot can represent at the same time the comforts of solitude and the pleasures of company.’ (Anon.) The custom of serving tea is ancient, refined and welcoming. In this harried world, we don’t often pause in our racing to sit down and sip tea together. And chocolate, well, it’s chocolate! Who doesn’t need to be offered a plate heaped with chocolates on a regular basis?
GC: Do you teach a specific method of writing?
DL: I teach organically, so no and yes. This is nothing like school, nothing academic. We’re all natural writers and I discover the truth of this in every workshop. Last weekend I hosted a Tea and Writing Party, welcoming in seven women I didn’t know, who don’t write. They balanced their tea cups looking a tad nervous and off we went. By the end of two hours each one had strong, vivid writing where there was once an empty page. I teach to write visually and through the senses and I craft prompts that get at this easily. Concrete images are simple, effective and pull treasure to the surface that surprises and delights the writer and then the reader.
GC: How do you critique your writers?
DL: I zero in on specifically what works and only what works. When you understand what works, you and your writing deepens. These pieces are new-born babies and I celebrate this, by pointing out what shines. Each person’s writing hones and turns to gold with this process.
GC: What do you think your participants find most useful about your workshops?
DL: Women find the parts of themselves they love, emerging. We are creators. We need to create whether it’s art, music, a garden, a loaf of bread…this is what happens here. I watch women arrive with tense faces and see them leave open, beautiful and looking younger. This is what occurs when our true voice emerges, when we’re seen, heard and celebrated. It’s essential. These workshops aren’t hobbies for these women, but something vital in their lives. And mine too.
GC: How often do you run these workshops?
DL: Once a week for two hours for twelve weeks. The winter session will begin Jan. 8th and 9th. I have five groups a week. Wed. 10 – noon, 1-3pm and 7-9pm and Thurs. 10 – noon and an advanced group 1-3pm.
There’ll be a Women Who Taste Life Twice evening here in Rowayton, CT, on Dec. 5th, from 7-8.57pm, where women will read short pieces they’ve written and an Irish storyteller will tell a tale. Any women who might be interested in my workshops or who’d love to come listen in, to take a taste of this sweet and spicy community are welcome to come sip and listen. If you’d like directions or to be on Drew’s mailing list, send her an email.