Postcards From the Margins: Why I Love the Loft

Vincent Van Gogh's Still Life with Three Books; Paris: Mar-Apr 1887
Vincent Van Gogh’s Still Life with Three Books; Paris: Mar-Apr 1887

Big blogging day:  the three writer-friends (Margie Newman, Rebecca Kanner and Jodi Chromey) to whom I passed the “Writing Process Blog Tour”-baton last Monday are describing their writing processes and new projects in their posts today.  Also today, the Loft Literary Center’s blog is featuring a piece (“Giving Voice to the Sacred”) by a friend of mine, Martin Connell, and me. Link to our post on the Loft’s Writer’s Block for a good read, and for projects and classes Martin and I are involved in at the Loft and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in the upcoming weeks.

In the meantime, I’d like to write a love poem to the Loft. Do you know the Loft?  It’s one of the nation’s leading literary arts centers and it’s right in my downtown Minneapolis back yard. It’s where my writing life started nine years ago, where I have found a writing community, instruction and myriad opportunities, some of which I want to share with you today.  Why?  Maybe you, or someone you know, has a writing dream. Check out our website, take a class, attend a reading, apply for a program or a grant…in other words–start working on that dream. Like I did, nine years ago.

About the poem?  So as not to embarrass myself,  I think it may have to be switched to a list.  (It may be that I am emulating a “Writer You Want to Punch in the Facebook” here.  Not my intention.  On the other hand, my mother says that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.)  At any rate, the list’s title:  Top Ten Reasons I Am Indebted to the Loft, from #10 to #1, in chronological order from a very fortunate day in September, 2005, to yesterday:

10.  “Writing for the Absolute Beginner,” SEPTEMBER 2005, with Jorie Miller.  Jori:  You said my writing was strong.  Thank you.

9.  Two Intermediate Short Story Workshops with Rob Voedisch.  Rob:  Two of the stories I workshopped in your classes got published.  Thank you.

8.  Two short-session classes with Alison McGhee on setting and point of view.  Alison:  I couldn’t believe I’d actually met you.  And on top of that, you referred me to Brad (see #7).  Thank you.

7.  ~15 short stories and one novel manuscript read and edited and loved up by Brad Zellar.  Brad:  That recommendation letter you wrote me is still making the rounds.  Thank you.

6. Jerod Santek, former Programs Director at The Loft, now Director at Write On, Door County.  Jerod:  5,4, and 3.  Plus frequent, kind-hearted, spot-on hand-holding. Thank you.

5.  The Loft Mentor Series (btw, this year’s deadline is April 28), particularly mentors Sandy Benitez, Peter Ho Davies, Heid Erdrich, and Barrie Jean Borich:  You made me feel like a writer.  Thank you.  

4.  The Loft Mentor Series, especially fellow “mentees,” Pallavi Dixit, Emily Freeman, Loren Taylor, Rebecca Kanner, Rachael Hanel, Margie Newman, Mai Neng Moua, Chrissy Kolaya, Marie Olofsdotter:  You are my best writing friends, models, helpers, networkers to this day.  Thank you.

3. My  Minnesota Emerging Writer Grant/ Loft online mentor Patricia Weaver Francisco:  You breathed new life into my novel manuscript.  Thank you.

2.  Kurtis Scaletta, Loft online education manager.  Kurtis:  You made my online mentorship with Patricia Weaver Francisco work. Plus, you referred me to Jodi Chromey, #1.  Thank you.

1.  Jodi Chromey, supergenius writer and tech queen.  YESTERDAY.  Jodi:  You helped me set up/keep up my website, and convinced me I wasn’t your worst client ever.  Thank you.

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