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First Snow and Coming Attractions

Karen Shoemaker

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

A couple weeks ago my six-year-old granddaughter announced that she was using her “witchy powers” to make it snow. I replied - like the adult I am - with “Oh yeah? Well I’m using my witchy powers to make it NOT snow. And I’m a bigger witch than you are.”

By the time the sun had fully set the ground here in our witchy corner of the world was covered with white stuff, so I guess I lost that competition. Not really though. The delight on her and her little brother’s faces as they looked out at those first big flakes was a complete win for me. Looking at them looking at snow won me over – bring it on winter! Let it snow snow snow!

I might as well embrace it, after all. Winter is coming whether I invite it to come or whisper hexes to urge it to stay away. The new season is going to offer up many good things expected and unexpected, I’m sure. Some of the good things are happening at Larksong this year. We’re is gearing up for a new round of winter session classes and planning an online holiday writing party that just makes me happy to think about. I’m still smiling about the fall classes.

“Every experience with Larksong is uplifting because the instructors are so respectful of all writers at all stages of our development.”
– previous workshop participant

Let’s start with the Holiday Party news. Mark your calendar for Saturday, December 12 from 10 – noon for a virtual sampler tray of writers and teachers. We will be hosting a two-hour event where published writers will lead participants through a speed-writing session. Each writer will have 15 minutes to introduce an exercise that illuminates some element of craft and gets people writing. Between each writing sessions other published writers will give five to seven-minute readings. Over the two-hour period, attendees will have an opportunity to write with four different writers and listen to four different readers. It will be a wild ride of creativity and celebration of writing. Because it’s a party you need to RSVP by registering, but you don’t have to pay to join. Because we at Larksong are committed to paying our artists there will be a “donate” option, but all are welcome to join us.

The party is just an appetizer for the classes we’re offering during the Winter Session. There will be more memoir writing classes, more fiction writing classes, and more poetry classes. We have new teachers lined up, some you know well and some you will be so happy to get to know. I promise to keep you posted about who will be teaching what at what time.

It’s going to be a great winter, even with the little too early snow. And now I need to contact someone about using her “witchy powers” to clean my sidewalk.

Camps and Causes in the Time of Covid

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Virtually - Definitions:

      1: nearly, almost. (Synonyms: as good as; pretty much; not quit; for all practical purposes; in effect; well nigh)

      2. by means of virtual reality techniques

I’m up early this morning – 4:30 a.m. to be exact – thinking about the two definitions of the word “virtually.” And who among us hasn’t found ourselves in this very position at least once or twice? Don’t answer that, I know this is a club whose meetings are sparsely attended. So here I am, parsing out the meaning of the word in the early morning darkness with only a sleeping dog and the hum of night insects for company.

So much of life is being lived via the second definition of the word right now in the time of Covid. We meet for coffee, for cocktails and conversation, for work and for classes, in the virtual spaces made possible by technology. I cannot imagine how much lonelier this would all be if we couldn’t, and I’m grateful for the technology. Smarter people than I could probably explain why interactions in that 2D space are more exhausting than ones that occur in physically shared space, but as for me I think it has something to do with the over-reliance on just two of our senses – seeing and hearing – unlike an experience in a shared physical reality that includes smell and touch. We might be facing one another on the computer screen, taking sips from our own cups at the same time and talking just as we would have in the Before Time, but the scent of your peppermint tea and my chicory coffee is messing from the scene, the breeze coming through the window beside me isn’t brushing your skin while we talk. It’s almost like we’re together when we meet on-line, isn’t it? For all practical purposes we are, but my intractable impractical side gets a bit antsy after a bit and that when I find it virtually impossible to sit still no matter how much I enjoy the other’s company and I need to disconnect for a bit, go for a walk, stretch out on my hammock swing and just stare at the clouds for a bit.

Speaking of my intractable impractical side, I sat down here to tell you about going to camp this week – Cause Camp that is – and yet here I am going on about anything but. Writers, I tell ya. We’re a bunch of those proverbial un-herdable cats.

Cause Camp is a national nonprofit conference that cover topics including diversity, stewardship, donor experience and self-care. Julia Campbell, author of “Storytelling in the Digital Age: A Guide for Nonprofits” served as the host this year. For a newbie group like Larksong this was an outstanding opportunity to learn about what we’re getting into.

Originally scheduled as an immersive in-person event in April it, like so many events, was postponed and eventually converted to a virtual experience. I’m not going to say it was as ggod as the original plan, but it was in effect and amazing learning opportunity. We learned things we need to do, can do, should do, and try to do. Maybe the best part for me, since I can always use a little validation, we learned what we were already doing right as we build Larksong into a community organization that can last, virtually and actually.

Going to virtual camp, even one as inspiring as Cause Camp, isn’t the same as gathering together in a big room to talk and listen and learn and network, but I still have to say, I’m really glad I stayed home for this one. To have so much inspiration and wisdom delivered right to my study was virtually priceless.

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