Madwomen in the Attic

I can’t lie to you- the thought of being a bit mad/mysterious/dangerously brilliant, etc. always appealed to me. Growing up, I wanted to become the furthest thing from a dainty woman. I wanted to get my hands dirty, to be wondered about, to be as tough as balls, to keep as crazy and fearless as I could be. I hungered for more than just what was in front of me.

That’s not to say I was a tomboy, or didn’t dress up, or anything of the sort. But I knew I felt an instant connection whenever I read Plath, and my friends can attest that I love being secretive and then living up the shock factor. So, it only feels fitting that I am now a Madwoman.

Let me explain. Last night, I had my first class in the workshop Madwomen in the Attic at Carlow University.  I am taking a Creative Nonfiction workshop, once a week, for 12 weeks. I’ve always written poetry, but want to delve further into this genre I find so captivating. I want to learn how to write such truly personal, real, and raw stories that allow for an intimacy between the writer and the reader.

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When I left that room two hours later, I felt a mixture of two things- and neither were a surprise to me. First, I regretted not getting involved sooner. As many of you know, I have not written consistently for the past six years or so. Sitting there among a group of very diverse women (many who were much older than me) I suspect we all felt the same in that aspect. We introduced ourselves, talked about our experience with writing, our struggles with the process, etc. I felt so at home within these unfamiliar walls and with these strangers, because we shared the same passion and the same goal. No matter what paths we had traveled, or where we came from, we met at this intersection. To be united as women and have the support, the inspiration, the push to be better…The strength of that is unparalleled.

Second, I felt young, inexperienced, nervous, inadequate. I haven’t written in forever, and have next to no experience writing creative nonfiction. Furthermore, guess who was chosen to go first to be workshopped? This girl.

So, now I am off to create a story composed of 800 brilliant words, in which I do not even have the slightest clue where to start.

For all you creative writers, what are some prompts you’ve used before to help get the words flowing, especially with this genre? Any other suggestions or tips on writing creative nonfiction? Would love to hear from you!


P.S. A promise to you all: Whatever I write, I’ll reveal in a post two weeks from now!

P.S. As a follow-up, you can find my first rough draft here: The Mark I Left