Women's Spiritual Writing through the Ages (4 weeks)
We trace the legacy of the spiritual/devotional writing of women through the ages, from Greek poet Sappho through Sufi and Hindu writers, Christian mystics of the middle ages, Jewish writers of their time, to contemporary writers. Exploring samples of other women's work, we will write our own stories, poems or memoir, and knead them as bread to serve the world. Spirited class interaction and positive feedback is key to our community writing experience. This class is offered as a connection between women who understand God as called by many names.
Week One: Poetic Expression of Long Ago
Sappho (Greek), Rabi'a (Sufi), MiraBai (Hindu)
Week Two: Christian Mystics of the Middle Ages
Julian of Norwich, Teresa of Avila, Hildegard of Bingen.
Week Three: Jewish Writers
A Potpourri of Poets
Week Four: Contemporary Writers
Pema Chodron, Maya Angelou, Kathleen Norris + more.
[Suggestions regarding writers and their works are welcome in this class.]
Write From Your Spirit: For Writing Women (10 weeks)
This class emphasizes priming your creative pump. Let go of contrived feelings about writing along with rigid rules. Write juicy and write real to explore interior terrain and discover what you really have to say. No reading syllabus or one-size-fits-all assignments; our purpose is to initiate personal writing goals that advance connection with your intuition and spiritual sensitivities.
This class is an intimate journey that will prepare you to initiate a consistent writing life. Use it to further your dream to publish or to journal your heart out, create legacies of memoir, or simply to discover what you have to say to yourself. We will accelerate momentum toward a defined personal goal or project identified through clarifying and compelling questions formulated together through class discussion.
Think about it:
Do you want to document a piece of your life experience?
Do you want to explore a specific writing goal through interaction that compels you forward?
Do you want tips on creatively expressing your own moxie, soulfulness, or whimsy?
Do you want to get unstuck and jump-start the discipline of writing?
Do you just want to find out what you have to say to yourself?
Most important, do you want to have fun doing it?
If you answer yes to any one of these questions, this writing class is for you!
Week 1: Your Message is Your Mission
Class mission: to motivate and inspire your personal writing mission.
Short reads and discussion on creating your own mission statement.
Explain individual projects that we?ll develop as class progresses.
Grow your mission by fertilizing it with visuals and latent emotions.
Week 2: Identify Your Soulful Longings
Create your own soul profile as your resume for a writing career.
Ask yourself open-ended questions to kick-start the process.
Work smarter, not harder: put personal passion to work for you.
What is your one-hundred percent dream for writing?
Week 3: Clarify Your Values
Look to yourself for leadership; take charge of what you want.
Discover your values through a class exercise.
Orient your writing around your values to empower your writing.
Create priorities for what you want to accomplish motivated by your values.
Week 4: Crystallize Your Voice
Why your voice is an expression of your values.
Discover and refine, or redefine your voice.
Create a "brand" around your voice in the marketplace.
Use your voice to enhance powerful writing.
Week 5: Connect with Your Intuition
What intuition is and is not in the art and craft of writing.
How to listen to what your spirit has to say through you.
Recognize inspiration as it rises through your unconscious.
Take yourself lightly through the process and have fun with it.
Week 6: Prime Your Creative Pump
Be your own creative catalyst.
How we prime ourselves for everything else.
Excel at priming your creativity on purpose.
Exercises and humor that dissolve writers block.
Week 7: Connect with Your Highest Self.
Be enthusiastic, let positive energy lead you into new places.
What to do with writing distractions. (Arrrgh!)
Being productive even when you?re not at a keyboard.
Say Bah-Hum-Bug to nay-sayers; banish "bad mind" forever.
Week 8: Experiment with Your Writing
How playfulness influences "flow."
What do you have to lose?
Stay juicy at all times.
Follow the yellow brick road: this way, that way, both ways.
Week 9: Develop Consistency in Your Writing
Consistency of place: where you write and the sense of place in your writing.
Consistency of patterns: your work habits and daily routine as a way forward.
Consistency of purpose: weaving values, voice, intuition and creativity.
Consistency of poise: project your best and brightest in every project.
Week 10: Accelerate Momentum
Float your work out there.
Activate your own artfulness by practicing, practicing.
Keep tweaking the way you think, the way you see, the way you feel.
Share class projects with each other.
Write Your Own Fairy Tale (5 weeks)
Have you ever wanted to go back and edit the script of your life -- or even just a segment of it? Got imagination? What would it look like if you envisioned your own story as a "happily ever after" or at least a more powerful version of what may, in fact, only appear as "real"? In retelling our own lifes as myths and fairy tales - our beginnings, environment, family and past choices - might we become stronger, more capable or at least more at peace?
Fairy tales enable us to pass through the dark and shadowy, even frightening times and transitions of our lives. They make us aware of the unseen and are fodder for our personal growth. They are fertilizer for our dreams. We'll follow the imagination of great fairy tale writers like Hans Christian Andersen and C.S. Lewis, and peer into the traditions of Original Peoples to re-imagine, re-shape or embellish our so-called "real" stories. We'll look at the work of Clarissa Estes, author of Women Who Run with the Wolves, to inspire us to dare our way forward. She says, "stories are medicine." How might your life stories, as grist for your mill, be reframed to give you healing, courage or faith?
Week 1: Re-Frame a Story in Many colors.
Are you bewildered, but brave? In this class, you'll find yourself wearing the Ruby slippers and flourishing a writing pen. Together, we learn to recognize fairy tales that have influenced us, see personal archetypes present in myth and folklore. We begin to write from our own mythic imagination/ emotion.
Week 2: Embrace Your Shadow Side.
Every story has a "problem." (No problem, no story.) What's less-than, hurting, dark, or menacing in your story? Of what are you most fearful? Who is your villain? What sinister characters do you meet on the yellow brick road? In what divergent ways might you respond? Find out as you write yourself forward.
Week 3: Shed New Light on It
Your story will be influenced by the quality of the light in your picture. As the light changes, so does the way you see. Images may shift from murky to textured, to magical or mystical. In darkness, infrared photographic "filters" induce night-vision illumination. Are you looking deep, deeper, deepest?
Week 4: Become the Hero of Your Own Life.
How will you engage your heroic moment? Once you commit, you experience things that otherwise never would occur. What ups-and- downs unfold to test your dreams and intentions? Casting fears aside, use the climax to see yourself in an entirely new way, or merely tweak the past to vitalize your dreams.
Week 5: Write a renewed "ever-after".
Complete your story; it is your gift to yourself. How did chance, or destiny, play a part in your fairy tale? In what ways did you enable your own heroic ever-after? What symbol or archetype has arisen for you? How might you enable a stream of wisdom/healing to flow through you in other fairy tales?
Writing Life's Third Act (6 weeks)
Life is a moderately good play with a badly written third act. ~ Truman Capote
Class mission: to explore, impact or transform our culture's perspectives on the last "third" of life as we re-envision this period through writing.
Our reading list will include a wide variety of perspectives from authors such as James Hillman, Gail Sheehy, Rainer Maria Rilke, Brenda Ueland, Christiane Nortrup, Carl Jung, Depak Chopra, Isak Dinesen, Rumi, Andrew Weil, Carl Jung, and more.
Welcome as genres for class assignments are memoir, interview, poetry, fiction, and inspirational first-person story. Creative writing prompts will be available.
Each week we write one piece [500-1000 words] around an aspect of personal experience as it relates to the maturation of our life journey. Clarify your values and attitudes, tell your stories, and hone writing voice/technique. Use weekly assignments to begin a longer work or simply to explore your writing craft as it relates to the topic. Class members offer creative feedback, encouragement and discussion within a positive environment.
Week 1: Life's Third Act Seen in Literature, Art, Film & Music
We share an overview of cultural attitudes from authors/artists around the idea of aging. How might you and I supplement perspective by pouring light through our own lens of experience?
Week 2: Writing Life's Third Act as Subversive Activity
Will the 30 years added to human life expectancy be reduced to a footnote? Not in this class. We challenge cliche thought, activate ripened dreams, allocate time for inner healing, and redefine success.
Week 3: "Re"-member Through Observation & Reflection
History is not linear and neither are memories. Scientists say remembering is clumsy, all about fragments. Re-frame and rewrite memories through awareness, observation and reflection.
Week 4: The Ultimate Good: Find Your Voice
Experiment in writing toward what Jung called a "psychic hygiene" for life's third act: for youth, the danger is to be preoccupied with self; for the aging, one's duty is to devote serious attention to one's self.
Week 5: Stories are the Medicine: Heal the Wounds
Identify the angel in the stone -- and "set it free" as you write your stories. Look for the sacred in endings. Be patient with yourself as you write, for as Picasso said, "It takes a long time to become young."
Week 6: Earn Every Wrinkle You Get By Writing
Where do you fit in the burgeoning market for the memoir and "life review," home-caregivers, or the increasing publications for Boomers? Explore your potential to make yourself an expert, or simply to write your heart out.
Polish Your Project (10 weeks)
Polish Your Project is open to anyone who has completed a class with Marlee LeDai. If you haven't taken a class with Marlee but would like to enroll, write to us.
We will either complete a project begun in an earlier class or begin a project that springs from your well of spirited life. No reading required except as you chose to water your own soulful writing or make suggestions for others. We will focus on accomplishing a body of work. Feedback from classmates and facilitation by Marlee are meant to inspire ideas and themes as well as improve writing technique.
The class is appropriate if you are writing to publish, writing to document a family/personal story, or writing for your own pleasure and sustenance.
Imperfectly Simple: Write Wabi Sabi (4 weeks)
Write to see the light shine through the cracks in your life. Wabi Sabi is a hip alternative to measuring value solely by degrees of perfection or profit. Originating in Japan, it celebrates intrinsic value in what is lean, spare and rough hewn. Do you appreciate vintage patinas? Do you want to make peace with your life's cracked pots or ragged edges - even your penchant for messiness? This class is for anyone who sees value-added in simply what is - and wants to write about it.
We'll write from a Wabi Sabi perspective (and technique) in short essays, stories, poetry, or journal entries. We'll even get visual to create an "altered book" documenting class experience.
Bring your flaws to class. We're going to write from the space between the lines.
Class theme will be the following quote by Leonard Cohen:
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in
Week 1: Imperfect & Uncertain
Learning what Wabi Sabi is, I'm beginning to appreciate its value for my life and work.
I question the drive to be certain, competent and confident about my writing.
Week 2: Quirky & Transient
I celebrate what's offbeat about my work, my home, my family, my life.
I look more closely at the immaterial and what is not seen with the eye.
Week 3: Simple & Rustic
I write simple, spare and lean in form and/or content.
I explore the rugged patina of my experience and my writing practice.
Week 4: Broken & Incomplete
I allow what's wrong to be wrong - and understand that's all right.
I make sense of the "end" of things, and value what's left unfinished.
The Secret Lives of Objects (10 weeks)
Ideas are to objects as constellations are to stars. ~ Walter Benjamin
Do you find yourself gazing into a familiar painting or photo and daydreaming? Ever feel an internal tug when you come across a family heirloom, your grandmother's vase or the hammer your father used around the house? Maybe it's the oak tree outside your window, a poster on the wall from a country you've never visited, the uniform you wore in the military or the earrings worn at your wedding. There is a story in every cup, and a tale in every knick-knack on your shelves, a history -- real or imagined, documented or fabricated -- in every object saved or appreciated for a reason.
Poets often begin their reflections with a thing: a rose, a wheelbarrow, a silver ring. When we learn to listen with our imagination, we find we are never without a prompt: there is always something nearby ready to spark our writing. The objects we kept because they were gifts, because they connect us to a memory, an event or a time or a person, because they're beautiful or rare or old -- they all wait for us to tell their stories. Join us in writing tales that may otherwise never be told. Be curious. Imagine your way into the secret lives around you and find an inexhaustible source of writing material.
By the end of our class, you will have written a short story (@ 500 words weekly) about your chosen object, or you may write several stories about different objects. Share segments with the class each week, and offer feedback to classmates as we establish a writing community around the stories objects can tell.
Week 1: Introduce Your Story Idea
Prime your creative-writing pump. Consider objects you may wish to write about. Think about the stories that may be told from its history -- or make them up. Rich details can be plumbed from the simplest things or within the private world of home possessions. Make detailed notes about your chosen object from different angles. Imagine its history and create a summary or an outline from what takes shape in your imagination. Share your ideas with the class, and if you wish, post a photo of your object.
Week 2: Give Your Object a Voice
Write the first 500 words as a rough-draft introduction alluding to possible memories associated with your object. This week, think magical and mysterious or specific and realistic. Your essay will eventually reveal emotions and/or relationships that lead you to provocative new ideas.
Week 3: Let the Story Reveal Itself
What dramatic, funny, or dear story does your object want to tell? Where and when does the narrative take place? This week write, promising action and intrigue (sometimes know as the story "problem)." Open yourself to the unexpected as you write.
Week 4: Develop the Character(s)
Develop characters around your object in an intriguing situation. Is it dangerous? Passionate? Heartbreaking? Funny? What profound insights might later be revealed through development? Allow yourself to playfully make associations with your object, and begin to draw conclusions.
Week 5: Develop Values
What is one evocative thing in the once-upon-a-time circumstance of your object that only you may know? Think about this in relationship to human values; which of many values will you affirm in your story? How may this help someone make sense of their life today? Continue to develop your story.
Week 6: Highlight the Unexpected
How does your object find itself entangled with a problem? What significance does this have? The world opens up in some unexpected way; a mass murderer may become a saint -- or vice versa. What might a reader take away from your story? Or if you are writing for yourself, what new insight(s) are you gaining as you write?
Week 7: Move toward Climax
The process of writing is an experience in observation and interpretation. Ordinary things encompass extraordinary emotions, ideas and experience. Look deeper this week. "Look harder" the same way that Rafiki, the shaman, encouraged Simba, the Lion King to look into the pool of water. What will be opened as further intrigue -- even whimsy -- around your chosen object?
Week 8: Wind toward Conclusion
Your story now invites readers to participate in the enjoyable act of interpretation. Continue to tangle insight with imagination as you lead readers down your story path. Begin now, to wind toward home again, returning to your starting point. We will look for ways to add an unexpected twist to our stories and pick up on insight we may have overlooked.
Week 9: Wrap Up Your Work
Make further changes or additions to your story. What has become most important to recognize, acknowledge and convey about your chosen object? What did you learn about your object, or how did your perspective change? We'll answer these questions (& more) as we begin to wrap up what we've begun.
Week 10: Finishing Touches and Conversation
We will look at what we've accomplished and share our experience of the writing process, continuing to offer feedback to each other. How has writing about the secret life of one particular object put a perspective on your relationship to other things? What further possibilities await your story/your writing goals?
About Marlee Ledai
MARLEE LEDAI is the author of 25 books and nearly 200 magazine/web articles. She is an independent editorial consultant and previously the editor of an award-winning magazine. Working with dozens of writers, publishers and organizations, she loves listening to people's stories and helping them identify what sparkles in their creative projects. Travel across Europe and the Middle East was an education in human sensitivities, eventually leading Marlee to become a life coach and writing coach. Today, she writes and coaches from Silverton, Oregon, Christmas tree capital of North America, where she also loves to hike and snow board with her husband, Chip O'Brien, and to garden with her very small granddaughters next door.
Comments from Students
[The class] went beyond what I had expected. The assignments were innovative. My favorite part of the assignments were the teacher's comments on the text . They often jolted me into a new perspective... I was ecstatic over having this teacher. I could not believe how much depth she brought to her subject and how much she gave of herself during the class. Her critiques were on the mark and turned us in the right direction without being harsh. This class was obviously taught from the heart. I was also impressed wth her writing credentials. -- Deborah Klingbeil
The class was great. Marlee did a very thorough, thought provoking job. I was more and more impressed as we went along. It wasn't so much a writing class as spiritual autobiography...with the women writers of yore as jumping off points. I always recommend your classes to my friends. -- Kate Aquilino
The lessons were much more than I expected! Each week we received a treasure trove of material - Quotations, Marlee's writings on various aspects pertaining to the subject, a discussion on how to approach the assignment and Fun Friday communication. The assignments were always thought provoking and appropriate to our writing goals... Marlee is outstanding! Her depth of knowledge and expertise were only exceeded by her confidence-building skills, authenticity, and caring that came through in all her communcation with the other students and myself. As a new writer I felt safe in her hands... I would definitely recommend your classes and I am already taking another class.- Beth Reilly
[Marlee] was wonderful. I find taking classses with your company makes all the difference in my writing. Keeps me focused and eager to write.- Joanna Johns
Marlee really had a thoughtful series of assignments that built on one another... The supportive quotations, and other references that she pulled in to support each week's assignments deepened the class for me.. Marlee was the best thing about the class! Her encouragement to try hard, to keep going, to not give up in my writing is something that I carry with me. I pushed myself to finish a piece that I didn't think I had "the time" to finish, and it was a profound experience. You could not ask for a better teacher! She kept the flow of the group going when people were stuck, or busy, or not communicating much, and still made us feel like we were all in this together... A great experience, my second online class and very well done!- Diane Scott
Not knowing exactly what to expect.. I found the content challenging and inspiring. So much so, that I'm considering doing it again at a later stage. [And about Marlee:] Ecstatic! She is SO inspiring, supportive and a terrific guide... I wanted the course to go on and on! ... I thoroughly enjoyed the entire course and am working on The Book that emerged from the course. If it becomes a best seller (!) I'll have to send Marlee some sort of reward! - Maria Etheridge
Marlee put so much time, and love, and care into not only giving us excellent lectures a week, but extra stuff... quotes to think about and inspire us to keep going, when the temptation was to get too busy to write.... Being a teacher, I know when a person has been gifted in teaching, coaching, encouraging - and not just on the page, but in life itself. [Marlee] gives her all to the class, on a professional level, and yet a personal friendly level that kept me trusting I really could write, I really can write, and I really want to write. For me, this was huge, as I can so easily talk myself into quitting, when I compare myself with others. Marlee kept me going through those times... I feel for the first time I really can submit something I wrote, without shame or fear or embarrassment. Even if I never get published, I know for sure I am a writer and I celebrate that with the others in our class...Can I recommend this class?? HIGHLY recommmended... can I recommend her? YES YES AND YES! It was one of the best classes I have had in all my years ( and I am not a spring chicken) She is a blessing, so real, so loving, kind, and yet intelligent, gifted, experienced and full of great profound truths. I could go on and on. - Dianne Janak
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