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"Just be who you are, calm and clear and bright." - Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

Skillshare recap, part 2

(Skillshare recap, part 1.)

Two things: first, my creative writing workshop, and second, some reflections on helping to organize this marvelous event.


Photo by Paula Junn.


How did I cram a creative writing seminar into fifty minutes? Well, I didn’t. I thought of what would’ve been most useful to me as a new writer—the only way to do it is to do it!—and that’s what I gave them. They filled a conference table and spilled out onto the couch, extra chairs, and the floor, and a few more settled themselves on a couch outside and across the hall at the café. The turnout was, like every other class at the Skillshare, absolutely stunning. (John had originally said he’d be thrilled if seven people showed up for each class!) Judy, one of my Squam buds, came with a friend.

So I laid my photo and postcard collection on the table, unfurled my mind maps, and said, here’s a prompt and here’s a technique, and here’s how I use them. I’ll be here if you need me; otherwise I want to see you writing for fifty minutes straight.

Most of the people in the room promptly got down to business, though I did detect a mild whiff of panic. A few students came up to me and whispered that they needed more guidance, so we riffed back and forth until they felt confident enough to put the words down without judging what was coming out. One man came in late, and when I explained what we were doing he said, “That’s it?” He wrote down his email address so I could send him PDFs of my handouts (I’d printed 30 each, and run out), and left. Someone hard at work on her mind map nearby remarked that he’d utterly missed the point.

That said, you can’t connect with every student; your approach won’t lead everyone to a place of inspiration, and I really need to keep that in mind as I gain more teaching experience.

(By the way, I’ll be posting the content from those handouts on the blog over the next couple of weeks.)


Spencer, Sarah, and Danielle.


Back in October, Amy Lou happened to run into John Massie during one of our Make Out! nights at the Armory. He told her he was planning the first-ever Somerville Skillshare and invited her to a planning meeting. I applied online to teach a writing class, then Amy Lou brought me along to that meeting at John’s house, and before I knew it I was second-in-command on social media. It’s been a busy few months leading up to that one immensely exciting (and gratifying!) day, and as I’m writing this, one full week later, I feel like I’m still winding down. My friend Jen coming all the way from Virginia to attend as many art classes as she possibly could only added to the thrill of it. (I’ll blog about Jen’s visit on Wednesday.)

Since I landed in Boston last spring I’ve slowly been finding my way into pockets of community, writing- and yoga-wise, but joining the Skillshare planning team took my feeling of Boston-belonging to a whole new level. Everyone on the team is absolutely lovely, and I’m really looking forward to working with them on future events and getting to know them as friends. I’m so used to creating in solitude that I think this experience was even more life changing—or, to be more precise, life expanding—for me than it may have been for the others. We put in the work, hoping for a modest turnout, and our efforts were returned to us a thousand-fold—or at least it feels like that. Eight hundred people turned out for the event, and we’d have considered the Skillshare a success with only a quarter of that. It was exhilarating to see people enjoying their classes, the music, the camaraderie and the free samples of Slumbrew, and to know that I’d had a part to play in making it happen. It makes me wonder what further awesomeness I can dream up, on my own or as part of a team.


Armory, 9:45am. Photo by John.


When I joined the group I joked that I was an honorary Somervillian, but I’m thrilled to say that come May I’ll be a REAL resident of Somerville. I’m moving in with my friend Kelly, who has a beautiful attic apartment not far from Davis Square. I’ll have space to cook and make art and, you know, nest, and I’ll blog more regularly about all that good stuff. (Kelly and I met at yoga last summer—she saw me wearing a Vaute Couture “V is for Vegan” tank and came over to talk to me after class, and since then she’s become my closest vegan friend in Boston. You can just imagine how over-the-moon we are to be sharing a kitchen!)

But back to the Skillshare—I’ll close out with a few more photos:


Miranda Aisling, author of Don’t Make Art, Just Make Something (read her Q&A here).


Eric Tondreau’s contact staff class.


Liz Corkery designed our gorgeous posters along with teaching the intro to screenprinting class.


Many more photos on the Skillshare Facebook page.


1 Comment to Skillshare recap, part 2

  1. Kate's Gravatar Kate
    March 15, 2014 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    I’m so impressed with how involved you have gotten in Boston and all the awesome activities (including the Skillshare) that you have found.

    I look forward to coming to an event next year (or this fall?!)!

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Hi! I'm Camille. I only write stories that could never ever happen in real life, though I do believe in real-life magic. If we were in the same room I'd fix you a cup of tea, but for now we'll have to settle for a virtual connection. I'm really glad you're here.