We sat down with JJWWR18 alum, Marsha Mittman, to talk JJWWR, publication, and what she’s working on now.
Wow, Marsha – it looks like a lot has been going on since the retreat! Congrats on your recent publications! Tell us how your writing has changed or evolved since the retreat.
I find I’ve become more critical and objective – able to more clearly, rather than emotionally, assess my work, which is extremely important.
Can you tell us more about your experience at JJWWR?
I loved the intensity of the experience, found the participants personable and talented, and felt the leaders were dynamic and genuinely interested in our growth. The town itself is a creative vortex that literally helped supercharge output – as well as offer a respite, if needed. The live readings at the Arts Festival, at the end of the week, were a lot of fun.
How did your experience differ from other writing retreats you’d attended?
Others were larger, which I found distracting – they had so many activities. I greatly appreciated the free time at JJWWR so I could actually get some serious writing accomplished. I also found other retreats weren’t as specifically focused on individual participants’ writing. Having breakfast and lunch available helped maintain concentration – there was no need to run around looking for restaurants.
What lessons or practices from JJWWR have you applied to your writing?
I took away three very important points, which greatly helped with More, the spiritual manuscript I’m currently working on. First, don’t be married to what you’ve already written. Second, think carefully about where you’re placing flashbacks. Third, just write as the muse moves you – don’t worry about writing in “order.” Of course, I was guilty of all three, and they were blocking my progress!
Tell us more about your humorous memoir – when is it going to be available?
According to a competition judge, You Know You Moved to South Dakota from New York City WHEN… chronicles my “…wild west encounters with man, beast, the elements, and the supernatural” and is forthcoming from Scurfpea Publishing this winter. The book is unique in that a series of pithy quips separate the chapters. For example, You Know You Moved to South Dakota from New York City WHEN…a sixty year old man brings home a trophy and it’s a stuffed deer head, not a twenty-year-old wife.
It seems like a journey to film may be in your future – what are you finding most exciting about that prospect?
Actually, both film and theater are on the horizon. A documentary filmmaker working here in South Dakota has asked me to collaborate on three presentations for when her film premiers. The movie details a solo woman’s travels through the Midwest. I’ve travelled, mostly alone, to over 125 countries/islands on six continents, and 46 US states which has been the basis for a lot of my writing. These travels also led to the theater connection. Select poems from my chapbook, Patriarchal Chronicles: Women’s Worldwide Tears, are currently being crafted into a stage production. What I enjoy most about these projects is seeing my words morph from the page into something live and experienced by many.
Finally, what would you say to people considering the retreat?
Go with an open mind and no expectations. LISTEN and let the magic happen.