Monday, October 24, 2011


WRITING TO THE SOURCE. Exploring our inner lives through writing (including blogging) was the theme for the UUCA 2-day writing experience for women here in Georgia at the end of October 2011. Inner Lives, the purple anthology with the butterfly life-cycle pictured above, contains sections on identity, expression, and transformation. The first blog of Coffee with Hallelujah appears in the transformation section!

Hallelujah for the GREAT MYSTERY, the SOURCE of all BEINGNESS! Hallelujah for Kim Green, leader of this past weekend’s two-day writing experience for women at the home of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta! Hallelujah for women who write to get to what matters—IDENTITY, EXPRESSION, AND TRANSFORMATION!

As Hallelujah Truth, I was both surprised and pleased when almost a year ago, I was asked to lead the workshop for “Blogging to the Source.” Other workshop leaders were luminaries in their areas of writing. Maggie Edson, who received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1999 for “Wit,” lead the playwriting workshop. The memoir-writing workshop was taught by Jessica Handler, recipient of Atlanta Magazine’s “Best Memoir of 2009.” Two well-known Atlanta poets, Alice Teeter and Alice Lovelace, co-taught the poetry workshop. Well, you get the gist of this amazing day of workshops and women stars! Other star workshop leaders included fiction (Laurel Snyder), non-ficition (Valerie Boyd) spiritual writing (Marti Keller and Meg Barnhouse). Hallelujah’s only regret is that she couldn’t attend all of these workshops (as well as attending the Friday night keynote speaker, Pearl Cleage)!

The Saturday writing experience began at 6:30 with a continental breakfast before two hours of writing experience using the “free-writing” technique of Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones, and Julia Cameron’s The Artist's Way morning pages. I will remind my FELLOW PILGRIM that this kind of nonjudgmental writing (NOT GOOD, NOT BAD, JUST IS) is a stimulating rewarding experience when practiced daily! Being present to yourself and the blank page is YOUR INVITATION to BEING (I conduct the same daily practice with my drawing.)!
KEYNOTE SPEAKER. Amy Benson Brown 's talk about the writer's habitat and habit inspired us all! A great way to begin the all-day Saturday women's writing conference.

The day brightened even more when Amy Benson Brown delivered the keynote speech with passion and humor! Speaking about both the writer’s habitat and habit, Amy shared her considerable knowledge about the writing process acquired from the experience of writing two books, Rewriting the Word: American Writers and the Bible and The Book of Sarah, as well as developing and working at Emory University’s Author Development Program for the past ten years. PILGRIMS, if you want to be a writer, you must WRITE! That is the message! To BE we must BE. As an I artist, I draw every day! NO MATTER WHAT! Remember we ARE what we DO!

Amy encouraged us all to design the habitat we need to create, to do our work. Think about what your body and spirit needs. She showed us her “standing” writing desk that her father helped her build so that she can prevent backaches when she writes by standing and sitting alternatively. What do you need PILGRIM in your work environment to foster and support your creativity? Remember to take care of body and soul!
INNER LIVES. Kim Green (left) and Amy Benson Brown look at the anthology, Inner Lives, compiled and published to commemorate this 2-day women's writing conference. By Kim's right hand is a post card announcing her upcoming novel, Hallucination.

A phrase that Amy used in her presentation was “strange light.” How intriguing! What is UNIQUE or STRANGE to us is our SOURCE of inspiration. Write about what captures your imagination, what pulls you to your insides, heart, body, mind, and soul and share your “strange light” with others! Hallelujah!

After Amy’s keynote speech, the day propelled us all into our workshops, lunch with the panel discussion about self-publishing, more workshops, yoga and meditation, appointments with editors, and concluded with coffee house readings in the evening.
WHAT IS YOUR PURPOSE IN LIFE? This is the question I asked everybody to answer at the beginning of "Blogging to the Source." Establishing a vision statement for everyone's blog required writers to consider their reason for being here on this earth! We were writing for breakthroughs!
LUNCH TIME WITH WOMEN WRITERS. Eating was accompanied with a panel discussion about self-publishing. Attendees came from all over the United States. I met women from California, New York, South Carolina, and Tennessee. All were writers at various stages of making their work public.

WOMEN WHO HAVE SELF-PUBLISHED. What a privilege it was to listen to these very successful, articulate women who have accomplished many things in their lives, including maneuvering themselves and their books in the maze of publishing options in today's market. From left to right: Carol Fulwiler Jones, Hopeful Heart, Peaceful Mind: Managing Infertility. Laurie Hyatt, Silent Decision: Awareness Out of Tragedy. Eileen Jedlicka, Blink of an Eye--A Mannequin's Tale. Anita Paul, Write Your Life.

Hallelujah was thrilled to lead two workshops on BLOGGING to the SOURCE! The primary focus of our 90 minutes together was to establish a mission/vision statement and a guiding metaphor for our blogs (inspired by Gwen Bell and her course in Re-Align Your Website). A blogger needs to know what brings her to blog. Without a defined “mission,” each blog entry has a beginning and ending without being connected to the heart and soul of the blogger. This lack of heart connection makes it difficult to blog regularly and consistently! During my workshops, there were “aha” moments, when one of the writers experienced a breakthrough in knowing what her purpose for blogging was! How rewarding for Hallelujah! Hallelujah for “ahas”! (I think blogging mission statements will be a future blog entry, so stay-tuned!)

FELLOW SOJOURNERS, being in the company of intelligent women writers was inspirational and meaningful. Women freely shared their life experiences—everything from joy, illness, healing, love, woes, and visions. Thank you so much Kim Green for leading this magnificent endeavor of your women’s writing group of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta.
HALLEUJAH TRUTH and the TRUTH TELLER. Kim and I laughed as she told me that her friends call her the TRUTH TELLER and I acknowledge that my friends tell me the same thing! I'm holding the post card announcing Kim's upcoming novel, Hallucination.


  1. The writer's conference was great! I was there, and I also had a poem in the "Inner Voices" anthology. Went to a poetry workshop led by Alice 'n' Alice (Alice Teeter and Alice Lovelace) in which we wrote poetry and worked on revising it. On Friday night at the keynote speech, I sat next to a woman who found speaker Pearl Cleage's witticisms just as humorous as I did. We sat there and traded comments about how much we liked her talk. It turned out that my seatmate was Amy Benson Brown, who spoke the next morning and who has published "The Book of Sarah," poems about the historical figure Sarah Grimke. I had an early fascination with the Grimke sisters, who were Charleston abolitionists and women's right pioneers. Also heard Valerie Boyd talk about her six years of researching and writing the life of Zora Neale Hurston. "Embrace fear," Valerie says. It's a great tool for a writer.

  2. I love Stell's "fear" quote above, and the look and feel of this creative conference as you describe it and visualize it for us, Ruth. How exhilarating it must have been to be there and teaching.

  3. Dear Stell, thanks for responding to this blog entry. I'm so glad that we shared this women's writing experience together! It was certainly a stretching, learning, experience. Now I have two new expressions--"strange light" and "embrace fear." See are so kind and generous to me always by reading and sharing what you think. Thank you both.