I've been taking a course on REVISING. It's been a revelation. It's taught by Chloe Caldwell. Four Tuesdays, the last session is tomorrow night. It's been really helpful. I'm thrilled to be heading into revisions on my own book. Thanks to a very kind, generous and capable copy/line editor, MARIANNE!! my stories are in the best shape they've ever been. I'll have the final fixes on the final four stories later this week and then I'll implement them. THEN, I begin the overall revision.
For those of you who know my stories, you know I write short pieces. The book, It Will Work Out, is a collection of stories that are in roughly chronological order (with major digressions within the pieces themselves.) The challenge is how to have them work as standalone pieces (which they already do) and still have the book succeed as a book a memoir. The subtitle of the book is A Life in Stories. So, there's the big challenge.
I'm going away in the winter with my pal and writing partner, Sari Botton, and we're going to work on our books together. I'm excited--up until now I've been rather intimidated to move from the short, discreet story format to the overall book format. However, the combo of working out the fixes/edits from Marianne and taking this revision course with Chloe AND, the time that it's taken, which has allowed me to STEP BACK and begin to see what I have. Well, I now feel ready. To contain the larger work. To hold the entire thing like I do a short piece and to refine the whole, thread the pieces, braid the themes.
I'm getting ready to finish this incredible project which has been years in the making. Some of the stories are 8/9 years old, some are from this year..
“Whatever it takes to finish things, finish. You will learn more from a glorious failure than you ever will from something you never finished.” -- Neil Gaiman
What are you working on? What are you eager to finish? What's keeping you from finishing? Let's finish together, shall we?
I just got an email from a former student--he sent me a great blurb about the workshop (btw, if you've ever taken the workshop and haven't given me a blurb and you want to, please send it to me)--anyway, Sylvan Oswald wrote this:
"I brought in a project I was about to abandon. Chris Wells’ workshop helped me get back in gear with my own process and locate images that resided deep within the material that it would have taken me ages to find alone. His workshops act as accelerators, as powerful magnets that draw writers swiftly towards the core of their own creative planet."
Last weekend's session of Writing Life in NYC was particularly intense. I was more emotional than usual--edgy. I apologized at one point for being mean to my students--they said I wasn't. But I do think I feel a more urgent need to help folks get their work done and out into the world. Maybe it's my age--I don't feel so young anymore and and I see how time passes and windows close. Or maybe it's the season--fall is such a time for embarking on new ventures, new projects. Or maybe it's the era of divisiveness and fear and polarization--we need to make the things we want to make NOW. There is nothing to be gained by waiting for the "right moment" to create. Thoughtfulness has its time and place, yes, but so many of us are distracted, overwhelmed, anxious--Put It In the Work, I say. MAKE IT NOW.
Here's a shot of last weekend's group--they were great. I get the best people in my workshops. Thoughtful, kind, smart, engaged--I have a one day check in this Saturday in NYC (you can join virtually, too) and, 'm adding another NYC session in January.
If you're reading this for the first time, meaning my blog, my site--please join us. I promise I won't be (too) mean. Instead I will be passionate and excited about you and your work and your ideas--I will act as an accelerator, a magnet moving you swiftly to the core of your own creative planet.
WOW! Love that. xx
I'M NOT A MORNING PERSON; Most people know this about me
So why did I agree to show up for a video shoot at 6am on a SUNDAY--meaning, wake up at 5 to get my shit together, then get picked up by the nice PA from Philly who's name was Klementina, all in the pouring rain. Driving to an OUTDOOR LOCATION where we would shoot all day. And I was wearing a SUIT. Most people also know that I don't really rock a suit anymore these days--I more of a pagan, hippy, athleisure kinda guy. SO WHY DID I AGREE TO ALL OF THIS?
Amanda Palmer, of course.
AMANDA PALMER or Amanda Fucking Palmer, as she is commonly known, performed at The Secret City this past summer in Woodstock. It was, as you can imagine, amazing. She did the Ukulele Song, which is one of my faves. And it was beautiful. We became friends. She's an extraordinary person. She had Bobby and me over for dinner a few times--her house is about 5 minutes down the hill from us. Candlelit dinners in old stone rooms, a circle of artists and freaks, talk about music and love and work and art and community. All the things I love about being alive.
So, when she asked if I'd be in her music video, for a new track called MOTHER--and maybe we'd be dancing together and I'd be a sort of politician wearing a blond wig and a suit and by the end she would have seduced/calm/entranced me into her lap and maybe even breastfeeding would be involved...
Well, Yes. SAY YES TO THAT, right?? THAT is the shit you say yes to.
So, we drove through the dark, through the rain, Klementina and I. And we arrived at Opus 40, an amazing large scale art project that one man built with his hands over 37 years, out of local stone. It's a huge monolith in the woods. We would be shooting there, along with 25 dancers, a group of politicians, a string quartet and, yeah, a huge crew of really great folks. It was INSANE. And beautiful. And hot and steamy.
My pal Claire Fleury was there, she designed an outfit for our gathering of The Secret City last June at Joe's Pub. And Coco Carol was the choreographer--she's incredible. Just got married to my pal Sxip Shirey, a wonderful performer/musician/composer and one of Amanda's bfs. She certainly surrounds herself with a beautiful tribe.
THE NEW SONG comes out this month sometime, which means the video comes out this month sometime. Which means I'll tell you more as we approach. And you can watch it. And see me dance with Amanda. And watch her seduce/calm/entrance me. And see whether breastfeeding ended up being involved. The song is incredible--and might be recognizable to some of you (tease, tease, hint, hint...)
And be amazed by MOTHER, and Amanda, and art and connection and community and making things in these perilous, extraordinary, radical times.