It has been quite the year for me. June was exciting. I attended my very first Writer's Conference, courtesy of the Bois Forte Tribal Council's Education Division. I received some good advice, encouragement to continue writing and learned a bit more about the writing world.
Picking the best thing about that conference, it was the workshop itself. I look at my notes and check over the critiques and the sense of caring from each of the participants permeates my view of the drafts I have slowly worked on these past few months. While I have learned a lot from various items I've perused on the net, there is no substitute for "hands on" learning, for me. I think about sitting in the circle, listening to the different teachers-authors who've walked down this very same path I've chosen. I listened to participants read. I even read one of my short pieces, in front of strangers whilst being recorded, videoed, whatever.
Course, there were some typical "Millie" moments, such as when I went down to join the class at the Pub downtown. I knew I should have ridden with someone. I found the theater from which I had spotted it during one of my sojourns with my sister and cousin for a musical treat provided by an old friend. I drove around the block, intending to widen my circle. On my second circle, I spotted a squad car and debated whether I wanted to chance being stopped since the vehicle I drove had reservation plates. Nah. Best not deal with such a thing.
Then...whilst waiting for one evening's event, I stood by the window looking out and gathering my thoughts. You know the feeling you get when someone stares at you? I was aware that there was a traditional game being played because one of the workshop's people mentioned it to me. By the time I stood at the window, I was engrossed in my world I had created, making plans, not really here in this reality, well, I don't have to describe it to you now, do I?
Apparently, the participants in the game had been trying to get my attention for quite some time. Finally, they stopped the game. These guys didn't take kindly to women watching, I didn't take kindly to being pulled back into this reality. I rolled my eyes and flounced away.
Now, you might be thinking, why did I flounce away?
Simply put, I know enough about this game, having been raised with my culture and tradition, to know that while women could watch, they couldn't participate. The incident irked me so much, I was driven to check with an Elder when I returned home. Told her what happened and received confirmation of what I already knew. And there are women who are teaching the game. Ach! Different ways for different folks.
Now, I think about these two incidents, wondering why they have stuck in my head all these many months. Therein lies the difficulty of writing. Should I or shouldn't I and how to express what these conjure up? How does one work through the fear that lurks beneath each word that is chosen? Again, I don't have to describe this, do I?
Having attended the Minnesota Northwoods Writer's Conference, I have gained more confidence in my ability to express what I am pushed to write about. Here's hoping that more fledgling writers decide to attend the conference workshop at least once.
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