Why I Love Writing Marathons

I’m doing it again. Hosting another Summer Writing Marathon. I can’t help myself. These gatherings have been a summer staple for two decades and I can’t imagine a summer going by without one anymore than I can imagine owning a car that isn’t a ragtop.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWriting Marathons are among my favorite ways to spend a day with other writers. We gather around a big table, or in a grassy park, or once, at the home of one of us where we roamed the property all day, responding to prompts and trailing rose blossoms into the stream (me, ever the romantic). We’ve marathoned at crowded cafes and in spacious art studios, and in the rooms at various writing centers. This summer, on Saturday, August 23, we’ll meet at Inspirations Gallery, at Liberty Station, an ex-Navy Training Center that has been transformed into an arts and culture center with beautiful grounds and creative mojo.

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Read it Aloud? The Whole Thing?

We’ve all heard it before, from writing teachers and well-published authors and in books about writing: Read your work aloud to really discover what you’ve written and whether or not it’s “working.” There are lots of other reasons for giving voice to your words.

tammy reads

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It’s Never Too Late

It is never to late to be what you might have been.

This quote by George Eliot that appeared in an ad for the University of Alaska Anchorage low-residence MFA program has been tattooing in my head every since I came across it in the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of Poets & Writers magazine. In fact, I tore it out of the magazine with the idea of gluing it on my 2013 Vision Board.

Nicole and Michele at our Vision-boarding workshop

Nicole and Michele vision-boarding at the “Create Your New Year” workshop

Then the latest blog from Jonathan Fields arrived in my inbox with the subject line: “Go public with your bad self?” The message started like this:

“You know that thing you’ve been saying you want to do but haven’t been doing because you’re not good enough to do it in public and you’re terrified of being judged?” The message went on to ask what would happen if you announced to the world that you were going to learn something new and do it publicly. Publicly!

To illustrate his point, Fields related the story of artist, illustrator and author Lisa Congdon who, in 2010 told the world she was going to create, photograph and one collection a day. (She curates collections of “stuff.”), which she did and posted daily on her blog. You can see Fields’ interview with Lisa on Good Life Project.

For many years, I’ve had a mad yearning to create book art, to work in art journals and I’ve taken tiny steps toward this, but very tiny and very, very  quietly. So, with the steady beat of “It’s never too late…” and Jonathan Fields’ invitation (challenge?) to Go public… I wondered if I might be ready to …

journal cover

Cover of my current daily journal

Throughout the year, I’ll continue to occasionally post images of my messy, unprofessional and just plain bad attempts to learn book art and art journaling. Maybe by going public, the work will become less precious and more fun. Like writing practice.

What about you? Are you ready to learn something new with the world watching? Writing a quick free-write every day and publishing it on your blog? Creating some messy art and posting it weekly on your Facebook page? Jotting down your best sentence of the day and sending it out as a tweet?

The new year is a clean slate and each day is a new beginning.