Monday, February 9, 2015

Excuse me – do you have the time? My week in the Jo Ann Beard workshop

Every afternoon in workshop, Jo Ann Beard scrawled a prompt on the white board and instructed the class to write for thirty minutes without stopping, even if we had to begin the way she said she sometimes did: me no want to. The phrase came to mind when I thought about writing a blog post about the Jo Ann Beard workshop: me no want to. Not because I didn’t adore every nanosecond of the workshop with every nanofiber of my being – I did. Not because I don’t like writing for this blog – I do. Me no wanted to write this blog post because I felt I didn’t have the time to do it. Thesising, grading, class taking, moving, yadda yadda, I got ninety-nine problems and free time ain’t one.
Then I remembered: amid all this – “all this” being life, I imagine you’re familiar– I found the time to, first of all, attend the Jo Ann Beard workshop for two hours every afternoon for five afternoons. Those were ten hours I probably would have assumed I couldn’t spare had there not been a draw like, say, Jo Ann Beard. Then, in the workshop, we wrote for thirty full minutes – a quarter of each session! Yet somehow, each day, there was time to read and to discuss and to share our work and to learn and to learn and to learn. I learned a lot about craft and a lot about myself as a writer, and I learned also that thirty minutes really isn’t all that long and that I’m not really all that busy – not too busy, at least, to spare a little time to do what I’m here to do: write.
So instead of deleting the email requesting a blog post about the Jo Ann Beard workshop, I set the timer on my phone for thirty minutes, and I wrote this blog post about the Jo Ann Beard workshop. I wrote today, guys! And probably this means I could write every day! It’s just about finding the time, and it turns out the time has been right there all along – it was just hard to see behind the me no want to.

Risa Polansky Shiman is set to graduate from FAU’s MFA program this spring, as soon as she finishes her thesis, which only references Chipotle seven times.

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