Day two of the workshop. I awoke from a dream early Friday morning. In the dream I was being attacked. It then quickly dawned on me that I was in a hotel in southern Seattle. So I laid there for awhile watching Sportscenter before getting ready and heading off to Mars Hill Graduate School (MHGS). I had my simple breakfast snacks from Trader Joe’s (which is overrated) and was off.
I arrived early so it was another morning of walking around. This was fine. It would become a morning ritual. I’d arrive early and then walk down to Pike Place Market and meander around a bit before going to the workshop. It was nice walking the streets in the morning.
You know how the first day of class, at college, you sit in a chair/area and that ends up being your chair/area for the duration of the class? Same with the workshop. There were only thirty-six of us but I hardly mingled with the people outside my group. Partly because the few that weren’t in my group, that sat at the table I was at, I wanted to get to know a bit more than just knowing their name and hometown.
Dan started off the day, the session the same way he did everything. He jumped right in. No extended times of prayer and “worship” which I was grateful for. Sometimes, the heir of pretension that comes with these times at Christian conferences is annoying beyond belief to me. Was there prayer? You bet. Was there worship? Oh yeah, but not in the tradition that we think of it. True worship. It was awesome.
Dan did a brief talk and then handed it over to Lisa McCann, who edited all our writing pieces we turned in before the workshop. She hit on how to make our stories better, more interactive and powerful. A lot of it was delving into the truth of matters with our stories. One of the statements she made was, “Land the plane. Don’t write at 30,000 feet. Land the plane. Can you engage in the details”? With many of us, the stories we had turned in were disengaged synopsis of some of the most painful times of our lives. She was wanting us to engage with the story. Not just for the benefit of the reader, but for us, the writer, as well.
We then did some exercises and projects to help with the story telling. At our tables we were given an adjective and then asked to finish out a paragraph, that was given to everyone, with four more sentences that described the adjective we were given but without using the word. As a table we came up with ideas, but then I just wrote out the four sentences halfway through. We went with what I had and when we shared with everyone they were able to guess the adjective we had. Nice.
Next up was drawing/sketching a scene from your story. This had a number of people panicky because of drawing. My illustration days are way behind me, and they weren’t that good to begin with, but I jumped in and started sketching. The old tv room/den at the house on Chicago St. I’m sitting on the floor, alone, in front of the television. It’s the moment right before my mom tells me dad and her are getting a divorce. The sketch was basic, but when our five minutes of sketching was up I was pleased with what turned out.
Lisa then asked for a volunteer to share their sketch with the group. Since I was throwing myself into everything blindly, I volunteered. I handed off my sketch, sat down, saw my sketch projected on a wall and just sat back and listened. It was interesting sensing the vibe of the room when it first went up. Sadness. To hear people describe their thoughts on the sketch was interesting to hear.
We then broke up into our small groups. Upstairs to the third floor, which was really the fourth floor but was called the third floor. (long story) It was our turn, us participants, to read our stories. Once again, I threw caution to the wind and started off the session.
The previous night and that morning I had tried to edit my story as best I could. Was I still trying to write a great piece or was I trying to tell my story? I think I was doing more of the latter the second time around. I was grateful for the time to edit it, a bit, before sharing with the group.
I then read about the evening I was informed of my parent’s divorce. I read about the fallout, how it affected my family, what I was told by other family members, how it affected much of me and more. While I was more engaged with the story it was interesting to hear the feedback from the group. The feedback was difficult to hear, at times, but all of it was poignant, honest and true.