Sunday, May 20, 2012

Why Las Vegas? Why Write?

Each July for the past five years, we have been pleased to do a writing workshop for writers of all kinds, dispositions and backgrounds. Not to mention ages.

Part of the experience is generated by the place itself. Old Town Las Vegas has been in more movies than most towns of its size, starting with Easy Rider and, most recently, Paul.

The first jail in Las Vegas was in back of the Plaza Hotel where we have our workshop. How strange: to think that Billy the Kid slipped out back, through the bars, off into the hills where he met a woman, who had a child, whose grandson attended classes with Loretta and me at Highlands University in 1966. That was Jim Bonney.

Place is one thing, writing is another. We come to write not necessarily about place but spirit of place. That could be what is in our heart. And it could be what is stored away, out of reach, in the lower brain stem where primal memory is stored. We talk a lot about memory. Some of us are writing memoirs. Reaching back somewhere. For something.

I guess the whole thing could be summed up by Norman Mailer's question to Jean Malaquais, "Why do you write?"

The answer: ". . . the only time I know the truth is at the point of my pen."

At one of our workshops we asked people to write thank you letters. One was directed to "the person who saved my life." One was a message written to "the one who ruined my life."

Once we asked our writers to write an outline for a book called "The Spiritual Lives of Inanimate Things."

Our basic premise has always been that everyone has a story to tell. And everyone has the means to tell it. Sometimes all we need is Dumbo's feather to fly up, up and away.

Lorry, Gerry, Alice

Green River Workshop July, 2011
Las Vegas, New Mexico

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