Writer of the Month? Thanks, Red Wheelbarrow!

2 12 2011

As much (and as loudly) as I grieve our autumn migration, leaving our Sitka family for the winter, it doesn’t take long before I remember that this transient lifestyle brings the best of several worlds into my life. Our winter-life offers luxuries like regular showers, personal space, and access to Thai food. But one of the biggest blessings has been the opportunity to participate with Bellingham’s Red Wheelbarrow Writers (RWB).

If you’re a writer who’s even remotely within the Seattle – Vancouver BC I-5 corridor, I strongly recommend keeping an eye on Red Wheelbarrow opportunities. (They’ve got a FB page here – “like” them to get the latest event updates.)  They’ve offered some of the best writing workshops I’ve attended (how to write a query letter, non-fiction proposals, and building platform) and always have stellar speakers.

Beyond classes, RWB fosters a vibrant, inspiring writing community. The first Saturday of every month is Happy Hour – an opportunity to share your work with a joyfully supportive crowd. These are the folks I spent years longing for.

When you feel a dizzying affection for someone – or, in this case, a group of someones – there’s nothing better than learning they like you back. So when author and RWB co-founder Cami Ostman invited me to be their December writer of the month, I was honored.

A little intimidated, too. How to articulate my writing process for others, when I spend so much time questioning it, for myself? How to publicly proclaim an identity that, in truth, is still a very new journey – exhilarating at times, terrifying at others?

Fortunately, email interviews allow for slowly mulling over the questions, second-guessing your answers as terrible, deleting, reconsidering, rephrasing. Repeating as needed. (If only spoken word encounters came with a similar rewind!)

The gift of this process was that, by the end, I had a much stronger sense of what my writing life means to me. If you’re having a period of writer’s block or your inner critic is being particularly ruthless, I recommend assigning yourself these interview questions. Like the classic “Why I Write” exercise, these questions are powerful meditations on why we hand ourselves over to this conviction that words matter. (Other suggestions, friends? What are your tricks for encouraging/understanding your writer self?)

The interview is available here. This is a new feature for RWB (author Jennifer Wilke kicked off the series in November) so please check back for future profiles of our talented members.  Many thanks, RWB, for this and all of the other opportunities you’ve shared!

"So much depends upon a red wheelbarrow..." Photo by Susan Tive


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