by Valerie Haynes Perry
Each June, the Bay Area Book Festival happens in Berkeley, California. While I’m grateful for an ability to access anything that is positive, I also have a great appreciation for convenience. So, as a resident of the Bay Area, I was happy to share a table at the book festival with a dear friend and fellow writer who is also local. Our spot was beneath a putty-colored tent in an alley that faced the colorful Dharma Publishing building. We were bordered by the public library and a parking garage.
The morning was cool in two ways — temperature and atmosphere. Molecule by molecule, each unit of energy came to life before our table like the beginning of a play. Remembering, I can almost hear a director gently say, “Action!”
Mia entered the scene with a perfect air of leisure and purpose. When she glanced toward our table, I asked, “Are you a writer?” She stopped. Shrugged and said, “I do like to write!” I moved from behind the table to its side as Mia took one step closer. She picked up the display copy of Write the Book You Want — Be Your Own Coach and I told her, “I wrote this book for you.” She believed me and internalized this sentiment.
It’s very gratifying to know that Mia will always be the first writer who bought a copy of that particular book at the festival. The event lasts for two days and she graciously returned to tell me that she had read half of the book already and found it useful.
Writing should be useful in some way. As I connected with a series of writers at the festival and listened to them, I was graphically reminded that everyone has a story. After the weekend, I was full of the desire to extend the highly valuable energy that showing up; sharing a table; and listening to storytellers had let loose. That “fullness” delivered to me the concept of Motivational Writing™, which unfolded into these four practices:
Being a serious writer
Having a work in progress
Completing a work in progress
Encouraging fellow motivational writers
All I needed were the motivational writers and a home for our circle. We conjured each other up through reconnections and our Motivational Writing™ Circle on Meetup.com. The home came first from Joyce Gordon Gallery and then Oakstop, both in Oakland, California.
Gratefully, practice brings improvement and we’ve refined our in-circle approach as follows:
Reading up to 750 words aloud
Answering these three questions:
How do you feel about what you just read?
Did you hear anything new or surprising in what you just read?
Would you like specific input from our circle?
Addressing the writer’s responses to the questions
Placing the entire focus on the writer empowers her or him to do their best and most authentic work.
This approach is a form of performance; the writer who is reading can never completely anticipate the effect of reading aloud because ultimately, that act is spontaneous and original — like the process of writing, itself. This powerful fact is the by-product of producing Write the Book You Want — Be Your Own Coach.
Write the Book You Want — Be Your Own Coach is the third title in a trilogy preceded by Listening Out Loud — A Friend to the Serious Writer and Write, Read, Listen — Your Handy Writing Coach. This third book consists of these chapters:
In addition to convenience, I’m a big fan of simplicity. These chapters accurately represent my own love of everything that concerns the immersive experience of being a serious writer. Perhaps at least one thing you read here will be useful.