What to Expect at an Amy Ferris Workshop

An Amy Ferris workshop in Los Angeles hosted by Kate Anthony. March 2018.

An Amy Ferris workshop in Los Angeles hosted by Kate Anthony. March 2018.

In two weeks I'll have the pleasure of hosting author, Amy Ferris, at Mammoth Women Writer's Summer Workshop in Mammoth Lakes, California. I wrote this piece because I'm already tingling with anticipation for the upcoming weekend and wanted to let my guests know what to expect if they'd never attended an Amy workshop previously.

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What to Expect at an Amy Ferris Workshop

Expect to feel welcomed. These aren’t the kind of groups who don’t welcome new people. A lot of the women there will already know each other, from other writing endeavors and friendships, from social media, or from attending a previous Amy workshop, and those women, the ones who have sat down and written and shared together before, their connection is intense. They look in each other’s eyes and remember the words spilled on paper and read aloud, the whole group as their witness. Even still, with those compelling connections throughout the room, if you walk into an Amy Ferris workshop not knowing anyone, you’ll be greeted with a smile by strangers, with hugs even, you’ll be offered a chair, and your anxiety about attending something like this for the first time will be gone.

And then Amy comes in and we’re all excited to see her and hopped up on coffee or tea if that is your thing, it’s okay if that is your thing, and Amy begins. She holds a well-worn pad of yellow paper and flips over the pages as she writes down everyone’s name and the group, one by one, shares their first writing prompt. With each piece read out loud, the weekend’s intimacy beings to build. 

Expect for certain pieces you write to be easy to share. You’ll breeze through writing and reading them. We’ll all laugh together at the funny parts. There will be other pieces that surprise you though. When you try to speak your voice will crack, you may find tears streaming down your face. You’ll mutter, “I didn’t think I’d cry when I wrote this.” Tissues will be passed around and not just for your tears, but for those listening too. A good host will have multiple boxes of tissues strategically placed around the room. 

Prepare to be challenged. Amy Ferris has an uncanny talent with writing prompts. She listens to your writing, sees you through it, and gives individualized prompts that push you. They move your writing further, to the place you need to be. When she announces your prompts throughout the weekend they hit you like a blessing, sometimes like a curse, because they are always meant especially for you. Embrace the prompts. Write what you need to write. It’s why you came after all.

There will be wine, or non-alcoholic beverages if you prefer, it’s okay if that is your thing. After the first full day of writing there is wine and cheese and fruit and crackers and fucking sparkles exploding out of everyone’s eyes. Some people are huggers. Amy is a kisser. She grabs your cheeks and plants them right on you. If you’re lucky enough to get an Amy kiss notice how soft her palms are. Her lips too. If you’re a hugger, you can hug her tight. She’s fine with that as well. Amy likes white wine.

After my first day of my inaugural Amy Ferris workshop, after the writing, wine, and the hugging and kissing, I went back to my AirBnB and could barely get off the bed, exhausted emotionally and mentally from the day’s writing breakthroughs. This July in Mammoth will be my fifth workshop with her. Yes, FIFTH. Now I get more invigorated than exhausted because I’ve worked through a lot of the hard blocks when I was with her. I move into exciting new territory with her prompts in these weekends. No matter how large or small the group, her personalized prompts cut right through to each person and their writing path. Roll with it. Embrace the prompts.

When people break for coffee (or tea) on the second day, and when lunch comes and feels like an interruption instead of a break, you’ll know that the end of the weekend is nearing. You’ll watch the clock and savor the last hours. You’ll wonder about asking if we could just write for a bit longer with each other. Can this day, this weekend, not end? Please?

But it will. And there will be hugs, kisses, and maybe wine if there is any leftover from the day before. And when you leave an Amy Ferris workshop everything stays with you. The words of all the women assembled. Their stories and tragedies and triumphs. You’ll be able to close your eyes and in a second remember the lyrical writing of your new friend, Jane, the straight-shooting words of your new friend, Ebony, and the way that your friend, Lizz, transports you into her writing with a magical realism that takes your breath away. 

What can you expect at an Amy Ferris workshop? Writing. Breakthroughs. Friendships. Tissues. More writing. Other’s writing. Your own writing. Motherfucking sparkles shooting out of your eyes, out of your fingers tips. The word fuck (if you hadn’t caught that already). Wine. Hugs. Kisses. And always the prompts. Remember: embrace the prompts. 

I hope I get to meet you at one of Amy Ferris’ workshops soon.

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Mammoth Women Writers' Summer Workshop 2018 with Amy Ferris - SOLD OUT

Charlotte Kaufman | Amy Ferris Workshop

~ This Event is Sold Out ~

FEATURING BESTSELLING AUTHOR, AMY FERRIS

Amy Ferris, is returning to Mammoth to lead our second annual Mammoth Women Writers' Summer Workshop. Amy is an author, editor, playwright and screenwriter, whose memoir, Marrying George Clooney: Confessions From A Midlife Crisis, was adapted into an Off-Broadway play. Her screenplay Funny Valentines, was nominated for a BET best screenplay award. She co-wrote the film, Mr. Wonderful; co-edited the anthology Dancing at The Shame Prom; and edited of Shades of Blue: Writers on Depression, Suicide, and Feeling Blue.

Ferris travels the country giving her popular workshop “Women Writing/Righting Their Lives” and co-teaches “Women Writing to Change the World” at the Omega Institute, of which Ferris writes: “Now, more than ever, we need to come together, get clear on the stories we need to tell, and put them out there.

Ferris serves on the advisory board of the Women's Media Center (founded by Gloria Steinem, Robin Morgan and Jane Fonda) and co-founded The Milford (Penn.) Readers and Writers Festival. Her morning post on Facebook, “This is what I know. Post Coffee. Pre Wine” is followed by thousands. To learn more about Amy visit her website marryinggeorgeclooney.com.


THIS SUMMER'S WORKSHOP THEME IS RESILIENCE.

RESILIENCE: WE HAVE NO CLUE, OR LITTLE CLUE, HOW TRULY POWERFUL WE ARE. THIS IS ABOUT SEEING THAT POWER UP CLOSE & PERSONAL, AND NEVER GIVING IT AWAY AGAIN.

The workshop will be two full days. This is not a typical writing workshop - not all women who come are writers; all women leave the workshop empowered and inspired. This workshop is limited to 15 women. Two scholarship opportunities are available (see below).

Dates: July 14-15, 2018

Location: Mammoth Lakes, California

Tuition: Workshop fee is $395 for two full days, including catered lunches, and a wine & cheese party Saturday evening.

Tickets: Can be purchased online here.


HOSTED BY CHARLOTTE KAUFMAN AND MAMMOTH WOMEN WRITERS

Charlotte Kaufman grew up in Alaska and started traveling internationally at the age of 16. A sailor since 2005, she and her family were part of a dramatic at-sea rescue that caused an international media firestorm about sailing & parenting. Charlotte is the founder of Women Who Sail, a group of over 15,000 female sailors. Her work has appeared in San Diego Magazine, Sammiches and Psych Meds, VisitMammoth.com, and her site charlottekaufman.com

After losing their sailboat, she and her husband moved to Mammoth Lakes, California, swapping adventures at sea for the mountains. In 2017 she founded Mammoth Women Writers, a writing group dedicated to building a community of women and non-binary writers in the Eastern Sierras. 


SCHOLARSHIPS AVAILABLE! ~ APPLICATIONS NOW CLOSED ~

We are  thrilled to announce that Amy Ferris is offering two full scholarships for our workshop!

Scholarship applications are due: May 7, 2018

Scholarships will be announced: May 21, 2018

For eligibility and application information click here.

Women's Writing Workshop with Amy Ferris | July 2017

Last weekend I hosted 17 women in my home for a women’s writing workshop with author, Amy Ferris. If that name rings a bell it’s because you either already follow me on social media (my writer/sewist page is here) and know all about this, or you remember my post about the workshop I attended with her in March of this year in Los Angeles. Amy wrote Marrying George Clooney

After attending that workshop in March, I messaged Amy about my hosting one in Mammoth Lakes and she agreed. This July seven local women and ten women from other parts of California and other states, descended on my home for two full days of writing and empowerment. The theme of the workshop was ‘Awakening to our Greatness.’ Amy is talented in this arena. She has an incredible skill of helping each woman who attends intuit what they need to move on in their lives. She helps people move past blocks in their writing, but also in their emotions; it’s an incredible thing to witness.

I prepared my house for weeks in advance. Knowing these guests were coming was the final push I needed to finish setting up our home. This August we will have lived in Mammoth for a full year and there have been a dozen or so things I’ve wanted to complete for a long time, like sewing a privacy curtain for C’s top bunk, printing out and hanging new photos for our photo wall downstairs, and buying outdoor furniture for all three of our decks.

The day before and the morning of, I channeled my inner Rich (my older brother who taught me everything I know about cooking and entertaining) and got the house ready. Friday afternoon Eric took the girls camping for the weekend so I had the house to myself to prepare. That afternoon my first house guest arrived, Kate Anthony.

Kathy Hurley, left. Kate Anthony, right.

Kathy Hurley, left. Kate Anthony, right.

She brought me the most amazing hostess gift, a T-rex cookie jar that I had been coveting but couldn’t bring myself to splurge on. She also immediately started helping me get the house ready for the workshop. Kate, thank you!

Amy Ferris arrived later that evening. She too was going to stay with me for the duration of the workshop. The three of us joined Alexia LaFortune, and her husband, Greg, for dinner in town (Alexia is the author of the memoir, Sex, Love, and Spirit). It was amazing to get to know all of them, to talk about their lives, and to share with them how Eric and I met, and more about the book I’m writing about Rebel Heart.

The two days of the workshop were magical. Each morning, Alexia opened for us and then Amy took over and we wrote and shared and tissue boxes were passed around repeatedly. We smiled, we grinned, and we laughed out loud. Sometimes we wept. At lunch during the second day, a local woman approached me,

“Are all of Amy’s workshops like this?”

I laughed, “Well, this is only my second one, but so far it's par for the course.”

Magic happens when Amy brings women together.

At the end, we all left buoyed up and inspired. I came to know new local women who became my friends, and I hope to create a women’s writing community with them here in Mammoth. I got to know Amy Ferris more too, which was a true honor. She has heard some of the pieces I’ve written for my Rebel Heart book and on the second morning, as she grabbed her coffee and headed down to her room to write her morning post (and If you don’t already follow Amy on Facebook you should follow her Post Coffee, Pre Wine page,) she looked me in the eye, unequivocally, and said, ‘Write . Your . Book . Charlotte.’

When Amy Ferris tells you to write your book. You do. I’m almost done with the first draft now. 

And the last great bit of news? Amy is going to come back. We’re going to do more Mammoth workshops, yes ma’am. I cannot wait.

: R O L L   C R E D I T S :

Thank you's go out to…

Eric Kaufman: for saying yes when I approached him about hosting the workshop. For immediately saying yes. For saying yes when I explained that it would only work if he took the girls camping and out of town for the weekend. Thank you. I love you.

Amy Ferris: for every bit and every ounce of what you do. For inspiring and empowering women. For awakening them to their greatness.

Maria VanLiew: my friend, for being the second woman to sign up. For coming all the way from Pennsylvania. For leading us in yoga. For being my amazing friend. For seeing me. For loving me.

Kate Anthony: Kate!!! You just rolled up your sleeves and started helping. You went shopping at Trader Joe’s for me. And the T-rex will forever loom large in our home, like your amazing presence. Thank you.

Alexia LaFortune: for telling me to remember to dream and to remember the dream if it came. That dream released me from what was holding me back. Your words and your mandalas and your magic did that. Thank you.

Linda Schreyer: for introducing me to Amy in the first place! For your Slipper Camps. For watching how you beautifully hosted Amy at a workshop in your own home. 

Erin Heilman: for listening to me and then introducing me to women who may be interested in the workshop, one of whom came! For not even hesitating when I asked if I could borrow your gorgeous chairs so I had enough seating for everyone and for driving them over and picking them back up. Thank you, friend!

Rosanne Lampariello Cameron: for your friendship since before I even arrived in Mammoth. For loaning me the chairs I needed to seat all the guests, both at the workshop and during the lunches. And for dropping them off and picking them up too. Thank you!

Photos: photos in this blog post come from me, Jennifer Derrick Adams, Kathy Hurley, Maria VanLiew, and Rachelle Jacobsen.

And for all the women who came: thank you for sharing your words and your spirit with us all.