Monday, July 31, 2017

The Writing Life: A Wickedly Inspiring Day

Yesterday I went into Philadelphia to see Wicked. I had wanted to see it for a long time not just because I love witches and dressed up almost every Halloween as one complete with green face, but because I knew it was a feminist treatise of sorts.

Two sisters have a problematic relationship and two adolescent girls … one basking in golden curls and popularity and the other struggling in a world unable to see her oddly compelling beauty ... learn how to change the other for the better.

By the time the final curtain call had everyone at the Academy of Music on their feet cheering and applauding, I felt tears. A story about women where women care for one another even after hurtful life events! How inspiring and unexpected, especially now as we struggle through the aftermath of a devastating election loss and all that has come since then ... the tide again turning against women. Not to mention, Republicans threatening to investigate the “wicked witch” as I saw in this morning’s headlines.

When I got home from the theater, the lawn had been freshly mowed, Lily greeted me, bouncing upstairs to my bedroom, hopping on the bed and rolling over demanding a tummy rub as if I had been gone six days, not six hours.

As I changed into shorts and a T-shirt, I felt the joy of living alone: going to the Academy of Music, the "Grand Old Lady of Locust Street" with its opulent crystal chandeliers and stunning statuary; making dinner when I want, making what I want, curling up later with two good books; a beautifully written memoir by a woman named Janice Gary who taught memoir at the IWWG conference and a lovely little novel by another woman, MaryAnn Myers, who I also met at IWWG. Like sunlight on a late July day, these books written by women I’ve met and whose company I’ve enjoyed, warm me with the creative journeys inside their pages.

Last week I had sent out an email to Women’s Writing Circle about teaching a memoir workshop in my home. The theme: digging deep into those tricky situations in life which the memoirist knows she needs to write, yet crafted both with distance and a heart receptive to whatever discoveries arise along the way.

I received a wonderful and encouraging response. Already five women signed up for this late September workshop and I look forward to our day together; unearthing the unexpected and allowing writing to work its magic and move us forward psychologically and spiritually.

The journey, as Pema Chodron, a Tibetan Buddhist, writes, is “like getting into a very small boat and setting out on the ocean to search for unknown lands. With wholehearted practice comes inspiration, but sooner or later we will also encounter fear. For all we know, when we get to the horizon, we are going to drop off the edge of the world. Like all explorers, we are drawn to discover what’s waiting out there without knowing yet if we have the courage to face it.”

That’s one of the things I most enjoyed about Wicked. Its unexpected twists and turns keep the audience engaged; a plot that leads women to support and validate each other despite their differences and fear of what might come with a change of heart and mind.

The play offers a lesson to the writer. An uplifting and universal message of hope, courage and bravery where women can and do persevere against all odds resonates year after year with audiences everywhere. A wonderfully wicked way to end July, a high note on a summer’s day in the writing life.

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