Getting to Why

Writers working on their stories at the first writing weekend at Skenewood.
Writers working on their stories at the first writing weekend at Skenewood.

When Kelly and I started boot camp for writers almost two years ago (wow!), Felicity Fields, web developer and marketing guru, told us to watch this Start with Why, Ted Talk by Simon Sinek.

Sinek’s point was that you need to frame your business so that the why, or purpose, is clear to your customers. The purpose of Apple is not just to offer great computers, but to challenge the status quo. People dig that.

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

What is the ‘why’ of boot camp for writers, our writers’ collective?

  • to build a writing community
  • to disrupt your life
  • to tell difficult stories
  • to make the story of your life a hero’s journey.

Since starting this biz, tbh, (to be honest), I’ve hardly made any money. Maybe because I’ve been offering free Meet Ups or the cost of the space sinks me or maybe it’s just that I’ve valued building creativity over building capital. They say it takes three years to be profitable in a new business venture. Most of my income’s come from my freelance writing, teaching and videography work since I left my day job,

I still believe in my biz. When I come home from offering a writing weekend or an evening workshop, I think, wow, that was great, this business is much-needed. I have a why.

So here’s your why — join boot camp for wrtiers: be a part of a community; disrupt your life; tell your story; and give your narrative a purpose. Know that you are the hero of your journey, not the victim of your circumstances.

We can talk more about this over coffee on an Adirondack chair in the morning watching the sun rise over Lake Champlain. Or over a glass of wine as the sun sets off of the patio. Come to the beautiful Adirondacks mountains. May 29 to June 1. There are still a few private rooms left in this 10-bedroom manor house.

house
The Adirondack retreat is held in this beautiful 100+ year old house in Westport on Lake Champlain, NY.

Full weekend including private room: $530, all meals, lodging and pick up from the Westport, NY Amtrak train station. Register at: Adirondack Writing Weekend.

Here’s a video from the first fall writing retreat for writers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYKWfbgd6nU And here are pictures of the historic manor house where we will write and dine. Visit: http://www.vrbo.com/382611.

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the year in photos

december,  the event of a thread, art installation by Ann Hamilton

weekly challenge: pick the best pictures from your 2012. have the pics tell everyone about your year.

I shot all of these with my iPhone 4S and a few I tweaked with filters on instagram.

november, manhattan street
november, on my way to a lunch date, but stopped at this 53rd street public space
late bloomer
october, van cortlandt park, the bronx
september, back to school
september, back to school
august, duke university, working with united methodist women
august, duke university, working with united methodist women
20121229-083624.jpg
july, adirondacks, cold spring bay in lake champlain
june, school of mission, george fox university, portland, oregon
june, school of mission, george fox university, portland, oregon
may, a get-away trip to the jersey shore, painted a little
may, had a get-away trip to the jersey shore, painted a little
april, watched little league in the north meadow, also watched cross country, swim, soccer, basketball, track
april, watched little league in the north meadow, also watched cross country, swim, soccer, basketball, track
april, cherry blossoms in central and riverside parks
april, cherry blossoms in central and riverside parks
march, siesta key, spring break
march, siesta key, spring break
february, the view from my office
february, the view from my office
february, times square
february, times square
january, new year's day walk with jolain
january, new year’s day walk with jolain

Forward Them On

Living in New York City, I thought I’d seen it all but I hadn’t. Not until 1995 when I went to the Beijing women’s conference, the largest gathering of women in history.

So many women – so many ages, races, ethnicities – all of us, trying to make the world a better place.

I went with my comedy partner, Emmy Gay. We performed street theater outside of the Once and Future Pavilion, the technology tent. We called ourselves the Ebony and Ivory of Stand Up Comedy.

Before we left, we produced and performed comedy fundraisers at places like Surf Reality to piece together enough money to pay the deposit for our trip.

The day I left, I kissed my new husband good bye. “I’ll send you a postcard,” I promised.

But I did better than that.

I sent missives to my husband, not through snail mail, as we’ve come to call the handwritten form, but a new form of communication I discovered in China: email.

From the Apple tent, I emailed my tech-savvy father in Florida who then faxed the email to Chris, my Luddite husband who was working at the Depot, the family summer stock theater in upstate New York.

I felt like a wartime reporter, dashing off important, breathless, and newsy missives: 

I heard Aung San Suu address the SRO crowd from her house arrest in Burma! I simultaneously translated her words into French for a woman from the Congo.

I saw Betty Friedan!

I met Hilary Clinton and Pat Schroeder and they encouraged me and women from all over to run for elected office! They told us not to be afraid of politics.

When I returned to New York, I sold video footage that I’d shot and articles I’d written. I covered the cost of the trip which was about $2,000. But the experience was, as they say, priceless.

The kind of women I met and the commitment and creativity they had inspired me. They broke barriers of what women looked like; what women could do. Life was more varied than I could ever have imagined from my sheltered life on the Upper West Side of New York City.

When I was at the conference, I occasionally saw a middle-aged woman with her daughter. I wondered if the ruggedness of the experience – the long flight, the rain, the mud – was too hard on a girl. At the time, my husband and I were trying to have a child. I wanted a daughter desperately.

I am now a middle-aged woman with daughters of my own. I wonder if I could or would take my daughters to a UN women’s world conference.

I hope in their lives my daughters have the kind of experience that I had. I hope that my girls will learn of the beauty and power of women in all their diversity, the intelligence of women, the good will and sisterhood of women from many countries, the vast array of possibilities for women and girls.

And I also hope that they have someone nice at home waiting for them – mother, father, sister, brother, husband, partner, son, daughter, or friend – eager to hear of their adventures; read their emails; forward them on.

I hope that my daughters and son will travel the world to make friends and promote peace. Then, of course, I hope they come home, safe and sound, enlarged by the world, as I have been – that they, like me, will be made bigger as they see the world grow smaller.