The Writing Our Lives Workshop is partnering with The Rumpus' Voices on Addiction column to publish personal essays by WOL alumni. Click here for more info.
In the fall of 2018, Writing Our Lives partnered with Tin House to publish alumni in their online Flash Fidelity series. Read the essays here.
Upcoming WOL classes*:
Writing the Mother Wound One-Day Intensive Seminar
Date: June 22, 2019
Place: West Village, NYC
Price: $180 (non refundable deposit of $40 required to hold your seat)
If you grew up like me, you were taught that mother is the holiest of holy. She is a saint. She is the altar you are to sacrifice yourself at, again and again and again.
But what about those of us for whom mother is abyss?
What about those of us for whom wasn’t encouraging or supportive?
What about those of us for whom mother was (and still is) neglectful and abusive?
What about those of us who know mother did the best she could but the child you still didn’t get what she needed?
Have you wanted to write about your antagonistic relationship with your mother but don’t know how? Have you found it difficult to dig into these memories? Do you not know how to even begin?
Have you dealt with backlash when you dared to talk or write about your relationship with your mother? Were you told: solo hay una madre (there is only one mother), called ungrateful, treasonous, a traitor? Or have you imagined the scenario and been paralyzed by it? Have you internalized this shame?
I created this class for you.
In the Writing the Mother Wound intensive, we will:
To be clear, this isn’t therapy. I am not a therapist. I am a writer who writes a great deal about her own mother wound, and has read obsessively about it in my own healing journey, so I know firsthand how difficult it is to broach this topic, and have found that reading the work of others who have dared to do so, has helped me write my own.
The goals of the class are to:
Why did I create the Writing the Mother Wound One Day Intensive Class?
This is a condensed version of the six week online and in person class I launched in 2018, and is a direct result of the extremely successful Writing the Mother Wound Panel which I moderated at AWP (Association of Writers and Writing Programs) 2019 in Portland in late March. I will be re-launching the six week class in the Fall of 2019. More information soon.
I created the Mother Wound Class because it was in literature that I found answers to so many of the questions I had about having an antagonistic relationship with my mother.
Because researching and devouring stories about strained mother-daughter relationships helped me believe that I could write my story too.
Because I have amassed so much information and knowledge in my journey that I know it’s time to share what I’ve learned in reading these countless books and poems and essays and short stories and studies.
Because it was in reading that I found the term “unmothered”, a term that describes what I am and have been since I left my mother’s home at 13 and never moved back; how I’ve existed unanchored in the world; and what that’s meant to me. Finding this made me realize I wasn’t alone in my suffering, and made me seek out the work of people like me.
Because when I came up with the idea, it dawned on me that this was evidence that I could make something beautiful of my suffering, and it made me weep.
Because I know now that I’ve been unconsciously working towards this class for a long time.
Because it is my duty and honor to share what I've learned in my journey to dismantling the mother myth in my life.
Because I know now that this is my life’s work.
Date: June 22, 2019
Place:West Village, NYC
Price: $180 (non refundable deposit of $40 required to hold your seat)
To register and/or ask questions, etc., email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with Writing the Mother Wound One-Day Intensive in the subject box.
Financial Aid Information:
There is one need-based partial scholarship available to a mother who fits the following criteria:
* Is a single mom.
* Is unemployed or underemployed, and could not afford the intensive otherwise.
To apply, please send a letter to email@example.com detailing how you qualify for the scholarship and why you think you are ready for this class now. Please also write Writing the Mother Wound One-Day Intensive Scholarship in the subject box.
Writing Our Lives in the Park coming June 1st
Some people call it walking or hiking. The Japanese call it forest bathing. People do it for different reasons, but for writers, it’s one of the best things we can do. Why?
– Because in order to write, we need to think and feel, first. And thinking at our desks (or our couches or wherever it is you write) — instead of out in fresh air, while we’re moving our bodies — is almost always a spectacularly bad idea.
– When we sit, our brains become dull and slow. When we walk or hike, our hearts pump faster and our brains and other organs get more blood and oxygen.
– Scientists have shown that movement helps our memories work better and improves our attention.
– Walking also leads to new connections between brain cells.
– Walking in nature also has a positive impact on creativity. How can it not? Nature is the mother of metaphor.
So, let’s get out into the woods. Let’s write and talk and build and marvel at the wonder that is Inwood Hill Park, in upper Manhattan.
I’ve been hiking this park for more than twenty years. On June 1st, I want to share it with you.
When? June 1st, 2019, 11am-3pm (Rain date: June 8th)
Where? Inwood Hill Park, 207th Street and Seaman Avenue (on Manhattan Island) — Trains: 1 & A, Buses: Bx7, Bx12, Bx20, M100
This is a multi-genre workshop. We’ll be doing some hiking and lots of prompt driven writing. And, yes, we’ll be sharing, but only if you want.
Let’s take in the park and see if the wood nymphs inject some love into our pens, shall we?
What you’ll need:
– An offering to gift to the park (a piece of fruit, sage or other medicine, etc.)
– A journal and a pen
– Sneakers with traction – we’re hiking and may get off the paths a bit so be prepared!
– Long pants – because of mosquitoes and poison ivy
– Mosquito repellent – it’s June in NYC
– A snack – there are tons of restaurants and delis in the area so no worries
Afterwards, we’ll get some fruit and sandwiches (and maybe some spirits for the wine lovers like me), and have a picnic on the grass (so bring a sheet if you’re staying).
How to register? Send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Writing Our Lives in the Park” in the Subject Line.
There’s a nonrefundable $15 registration fee (which reserves your spot) that can be paid via Venmo, Zelle or PayPal. The remaining $25 balance is due when you arrive to the park.
More In-Person and On-Line Classes coming in 2019 (more information coming soon):
Past Classes (online and/or in person) include:
* * * * * *
Testimonials from students:
“WOL was a treacherously beautiful experience. As a person, it strengthened my immune system. As a writer, it made me realize that my story not only matters but needs to be told. Not for my sake, so much as for the overall spiritual health of our communities of color. The facilitator will keep it real with you always -so come correct! This class isn't for the faint of heart. It requires that you do the work on all levels. One of the best investments I've made for my Self.” ~ Sarahí Almonte, poet & nurse
“The "Writing Our Lives" seminar taught me the key components of creative nonfiction: structure, scene, place and most importantly voice. Vanessa helped me sound like "me" on the page. She helped me dig into memory and uncover my stories, taught me how to tell it and she affirmed over and over again why my story - our stories, are important. It was challenging and exhausting - as all life changing experiences should be. I walked out feeling more confident, knowing what I need to do to be a better writer and feeling like a part of a community of writers that I can now turn to. I am so grateful for Vanessa, for this class, and for my classmates.” ~ Nia Ita Sanchez, educator & writer
“WOL, it is an incredible experience! As a writer, if you are really committed to your craft, this is the class for you. Vanessa Mártir gives her all and more in each class, you read A LOT, because as a writer, you MUST read and she makes sure you do, you also write non-stop and will walk out of that class knowing what works for you as a writer, the stories that are bursting out of your throat, how important they are and why they must be written, the importance of your VOICE and what it is to read a book for enjoyment and as a writer. So again if you are willing to do the work and are committed to your craft: SIGN IN!” ~ Wendy Angulo, writer, entrepreneur, lawyer
"WOL is a safe space to explore the voice that refuses to be silenced. Vanessa is the badass facilitator, who guides you through your fears & insecurities by not only providing you with writing tools but allowing you the freedom of showing up to the page authentically.” ~ Vanessa Pardo, educator
“I am not here to hold your hands. I am here to help you tell your story. Nine weeks later, I was able to write my story. One year later, I was accepted to a competitive writing workshop (VONA) with the guidance and tools provided by Vanessa Martir. She helped me cultivate my dream of becoming a writer. At the end of her workshop she said you are a writer. Say it. I am a writer . Thank you Vanessa Martir.” ~ Sharon Shaw, social worker, writer
“In the spring of 2015, I walked into Vanessa Mártir's Writing Our Lives Workshop a broken and severely depressed woman going through confusing pangs of grief after my mother's passing. I honestly didn't know what to expect, and was surely not calling myself a "writer". To say that I've grown both as a woman and a writer is an understatement, and doesn't do the indelible effects of Vanessa's WOL on people's lives justice. I've had so many stories, both pleasant and painful, plumbed out of me in Vanessa's class that I had purposefully forgotten, ignored, or walked away from. Vanessa likes to compare her approach to facilitating her writing space to that of an "iron fist with a velvet glove". Man, was the tough love REAL in her space, but the cathartic release for the sake of healing and recognizing the importance of our stories make it all worth it.
“Vanessa's creative writing prompts helped me see my traumas and the complex layers of my grief over a mother with whom I had a terse relationship. I had a breakthrough in a particular writing prompt that my story inevitably starts with my mother's. Vanessa's WOL class taught me that being "unmothered" is real and that my grief has occurred two-fold with my mother: in life and in death. I was so obsessed with my mother's death in my writing that I had buried her, erasing the beautiful monster that she was: a woman who was emotionally abusive yet kind at times, but also a drug dealer and a manic depressive who struggled with loving herself and others. Vanessa taught me to cradle my mother's multitudes and grieve her in ways beautiful and unforeseen. Simply put, Vanessa taught me to empathize, humanize, and most importantly, show my mother "in life". I seriously don't think Vanessa knows how advising to do this in my writing has inevitably saved mine. I haven't stopped writing my mother in life since. I've been accepted into a competitive memoir workshop called Las Dos Brujas this year, and honestly, it would not have been possible without the hard work that Vanessa's WOL writing workshop demands.
“This said, it precedes to say that Writing Our Lives is life-changing, life-saving. So much so that I have taken it three times not counting the numerous free one day classes she generously gives. You write with purpose in her space. After the writing and righting are done and your heart has screamed and your eyes have welled, you emerge, not completely healed, but more capable to carry yourself with all of your perfect imperfections.
“Vanessa simply doesn't say "go write". She says, "Go. Be. Do. Burn all this pain down and transform it to power, and make the world watch."
“To Vanessa. Thank you for the space, the holding, the safety, the sage advice on craft, and for helping so many writers of color find their voices. With the warmest love and deepest gratitude.” ~Mariana Goycochea, PhD Candidate
"Writing Our Lives is what helped me to dig a little deeper as a writer, in all respects. Vanessa Mártir's method is very straight forward, no bullshit. Open to all, just be respectful & come prepared to work, or don't come at all. If you can swing that, you will definitely benefit from this class. The exercises are engaging, with some that first appear to be impossible but are simply challenging. And that's what you want. To be challenged. To be able to go toe-to-toe with it. And this class was just that. I was fortunate enough to have been a part of the innaugural class and back then even though I didn't complete the entire session, I knew it was something unique. I had learned so much. I almost missed this latest "semester", but I was able to make it happen. So glad it all worked out. I left feeling focused because now I have the tools I need to take my story where it needs to go. I highly recommend it!” ~ Mark Vigo, poet and writers