I had one. Not the revelation of the Christ, more along the lines of “a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.”

The experience wasn’t simple. It was actually highly complex.

I spent the week and weekend fighting back tears and trust me, that was awesome.

The formula that led to a super emotional catharsis, confirmation of a calling and a heart beating upside down and sideways follows.


Apply to a writing workshop you’ve coveted for years. Decide that though you have thousands and thousands of words of fiction waiting to flourish, instead, begin the memoir that broils beneath your surface; cry your eyes out while you write it, pour it onto the page like a bucket of Pine Sol onto the linoleum, count the words and press send.


Get accepted. Cry in Noodles and Company during the lunch break when you receive the news via email.


Choose Luis Alberto Urrea to work with as an instructor and think about how much regret it will take to cancel your trip. Instantly realize you submitted the wrong material for a Pulitzer Prize finalist to read.


Travel alone to the beautiful, historic Marconi Center in Tomales Bay, California. Be terrified because other authors you’ve dreamed of sharing your story with will also be there. Heft your suitcase, heavy with books for signing, from your hilarious rental car (your first Toyota Yaris) and head to the front desk. Game on, no turning back; prep for roommates, breathe deeply.



Load into the tiny, ancient hotel room. Remember, it’s the trails, not the room, that add value. Think “cruise ship, no upgrade.”


Head to registration. Hide your shaking hands. Watch the people come in. Assess who hates your piece, wonder when they’ll throw you out. See Pam Houston. Pee your pants a little bit.




Meet your class. Meet Luis. Introduce yourself (now you can’t leave).


Dinner with strangers. They list books. Conferences. Publications. Chew and nod. Keep your FitBit quiet while it alerts you to your racing pulse.


Hear Luis read from his new book. Find new territory on your arm to pinch for reality checks, current spot is now bruising.


Meet roommates. Beautiful, hilarious women who love language and wine like you do.


Sleep. For hours. Tomorrow, you work.


Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Hear Fenton Johnson, Cheryl Strayed, Garth Greenwell, Pam Houston, Jon Davis, Joan Kane. Keep pinching. This is real.


Scare yourself into boldness. Sign up to do your own reading. Cut your piece to two minutes. The piece that Luis loved. That the class loved. You got all Sally Fielded. You’re going to have to read it to everyone now.



Name, called. The Pam Houston hands you a mic. Own the room. Make them cry. Drop mic.


Spend rest of weekend getting random “loved your reading” from those same people with the books, the publications, the conferences. The tribe welcomes you.


Leave. They’re making you go. They say time is up. Your heart resists. Your mind resists. Your body is exhausted. You cry at the Delta Sky Lounge bar while on the phone trying to retell things to your husband. You have authors’ cell phone numbers. You have coaches. You have a book.

You thought maybe you did. They say of course you do.

No more pinching, things just got real. Real real. Make the time, clear the schedule, re-prioritize.

Change interactions Life lessons wine Writing

maryt1 View All →

Feminist, activist, outdoor advocate, animal lover, chocolate shake lover, reader, watcher, talker, actor, speaker, worker, writer, urban adventurer, hustler, involved, passionate, excited, ready.

1 Comment Leave a comment

  1. Damn girl, I am still processing and you’re already writing. In my own report home I told Steve, “and there was a friend who loved me enough to tell me that I had kale between my teeth, you know…that one of my pieces wasn’t as good as I was. Ok, maybe two of my pieces.”

    Enjoy reentry. Can’t wait to read what you write next.

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