I invite you to join me, Orla Broderick, in a delicious earth writing class for earth tenders.
I teach mindful free writing. Poet farmers seem to love it, also sea-go-ers. Those with a tale begging to be told soon see how to start to get it out.
The Isle of Skye has been a playground for many tales, including my own. As a location for creative writing, the north west coast of Scotland has no equal. Earth Ways, Rubha Phoil, Isle of Skye, North West Scotland is simply stunning. It is wild and sacred. I have so much love and so many many stories for and of Rubha Phoil. I have heard so many imaginings around beach fires when I was still breast feeding. I used to hang out there with a man called Magick, who loved a scythe and cut his aloe vera plant for my aching raw nipples. Years later I cleaned the ceilings of the main house, balanced on a ladder with a steamer, while my girlfriend held the ladder. I worked on the boats in the bay for Isle of Skye yachts, with my daughter. Armadale is gorgeous. Spring is coming. New beginnings are here.
My daughter loves to swim. Swimmy fish, feet as flippers, she glides over water, strives to own the pool. When I was pregnant with her I dreamed every night about dolphins. We used to see them then in the Minch going from Skye to the Outer Isles. She’s been swimming for years now. It’s a thing we share. I’d like her club to keep going, to get stronger and more established. She needs them and pool time but our wee club doesn’t make enough in member fees to offer all the swims the students need. We raised a few hundred at a bag pack in Tesco Forres recently, but we need a bit more. All I can offer is this creative writing class with all proceeds to the club. I hope it interests you enough to contribute.
It numbs your mind. It gives you false confidence. It makes an alien chemical reaction. Combined with complicated, tiresome processes, it allows you to function differently.
Without it, your mind wakes up in a new way, with a new pathway built. Another type of living experienced.
I ran a twelve week creative writing workshop and halfway through I forgot to take my Prozac. The people who came to the classes were astonishing. All in all twenty five women and men dipped in and out as and when they were able. From the beginning there was weirdness. There was a synchronicity that could not be explained which permeated the entire twelve weeks, and indeed continues to this day.
One of the strongest coincidental commonalities the group experienced was the rather bizarre fact that everyone had worked with indigenous tribes or first nations across the globe. I didn’t even tell them to begin with. They would email their typed-up free-writes for me to suggest something and I would be shocked. At first I wondered if I was hypnotising them into a common theme and I changed my own patter to see if that helped. In the guided meditation part, I would invite them to see, write and sigh love into their own names. That was it.
So, why the feckitty feck feck did they each write constantly and consistently about ways in which Mother Earth needed love and help? They wrote from the point of view of trees or whales. They wrote instructions in stories about how to save our planet. They are animal whisperers, shamans, seanchais. That first four sessions I let the sweat roll off me. None of the prescribed heavy duty chemical warfare anti sweat stuff worked. We met once a fortnight in the village hall by the shore. In the main room the exercise class thumped the floor. They sat at desks and I showed them a technique I had developed for myself over the years. It’s a simple brain balance meditation,nothing fancy. It’s almost just mindfulness and a simple way to access the creative side of your lived experiences.
They wrote and wrote and wrote. They forgot how to spell and just let everything free-flow. Then I showed them tricks on how to shape and develop some of it. They drank it in, celebrated with summer strawberries. They each found their voice! (NO, not everyone, it did not work for everyone.)
One woman gave me her copy of The Malahat Review at her last session with me. I took it with me the next time the group met. There was a new man that next session. A local man, a used car salesman, who had worked and lived in The Malahat. Both had worked with the same indigenous tribes there. Bizarrely another woman joined a few sessions when she was in the area. She works with indigenous tribes in Ontario. And then there’s another man who lived with the Aborigines in Australia. And the woman who ran away to Oz with the wrong clothes…
All I did was show them how to listen to the creative stillness in order to start writing. They were already extraordinarily talented writers. Over the next few months I hope to showcase some of their writings. They are also now trying to build on line author pages. If you wish to support them I shall post links when I can.
I totally forgot to take the Prozac because I had to sit and read, absorb and try and improve on the writings of my students. I had to stand up, sweat and teach week on week and it was so hard. Last month I also offered a few free workshops to the Moray Feelgood festival. One night no one turned up. Another night I nearly broke down when the Elgin Library staff had no knowledge of any booking. Last weekend, at yet another event, the space was double-booked and the organiser offered me the area beside the toilets to work from. I nearly collapsed. But I didn’t. I held out my cool steady palm, looked him in the eye and said, next time pay me and organise workshop space please. Even though my tongue wanted to stutter, my scalp wanted to run water and my belly thought about lurching I smiled as sweetly as I could and suggested he speak to Scottish Book Trust about funding and events.
I suppose this is a very Irish way of saying thank you to the poets, empaths, shamans and artists who joined the wee workshops in Findhorn village.
Next, I am going to Inverness with this course. It’ll just be four weeks, once a week and although it isn’t for everyone, please get in touch if you think it could work for you.
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Tagged Elgin Library, Findhorn village, Inverness, Irish, Mindfulness, Moray Feelgood festival, Mother Earth, Prozac, Scottish Book Trust, The Malahat Review, writing workshop