April 20, 2011
Blood-red anemones blooming. I wish I had planted more.
Received comments from the participants at the Wildacres retreat. Something had been bothering me about that event, and now I know what it was. What people wanted was to be in a situation where they were forced to write. They didn’t want to learn anything substantive from the people, like me, brought in to teach them, but to sit and write their own thoughts to prompts given by us. It’s not that any of that is bad, but to pay for it seems strange. You could sit in your own living room and say to yourself, “Now I will write about the first time I realized my dad was not perfect” and save yourself a lot of money. What they wanted us to make them do was what they should have been able to do on their own. No one who needs such an occasion has any chance of being a real writer. Some of them hated being “lectured at,” though it’s a puzzle why else they would have come all that way with their checkbooks open. Why come into my classroom if you don’t anticipate my saying something you need to know? They seem to have felt good about what they were doing, though, so perhaps they got their money’s worth anyway. I did not feel good about my performance there, though now I see it was because I felt I gave them too little of what they said they did not want at all. Writing without necessity is why there are too many writers in the world and, ironically, so little writing worth reading.