About two months ago, I received an email from my contact at the Wounded Warrior's Wives Group asking me if I would like to attend a writing workshop in NYC for the wives of wounded soldiers. The purpose of the workshop would be to help us find our voices and develop the way we write. Really! NYC! To go and develop my writing? Hell yeah!!
June 17, 2011 I boarded the plane to NYC. I was so exited as I spent 23 years of my life growing up in NY state, but never got to go to the city. Finally, I get to see the big apple. I got in, got in my room at the Affinia Manhattan and settled in.
The next morning at breakfast all of us wives were a buzz thinking about what the day would bring. We took a bus to the Writer's Guild East building and walked in. We sat in a large conference room and were introduced to the writers who would be our mentors that weekend. To my amazement, Eric Bogosian walked in. Many of you might remember him from the movie, Talk Radio. That movie was crafted after his Pulitzer nominated play of the same title. Can you imagine sitting in the room with such an accomplished playwright and actor! He was a really nice, approachable person. Here is a picture of me with Eric.
We all had breakfast, introduced ourselves to the Guild and got sectioned off into groups to meet with our particular mentors. My mentors for that weekend were Matthew Eck and Gina Gionfriddo. Matthew is a writer who wrote a book called The Farther Shore. Gina wrote the play, Becky Shaw. She is an accomplished playwright and television writer as well. She has written for Cold Case, Law and Order and Law and Order Criminal Intent.
They talked to the other wives and I about what type of writing did we want to do and how to get started. We talked about what we have done so far and what we all hope to accomplish. Some of us had been blogging, some are quite accomplished in it and some have former news writing experience.
That evening we got to do some sight seeing and explore Manhattan. It was a blast. We were told that we were getting to go see The Lion King or Mary Poppins on Broadway. I drew a ticket for The Lion King and it was absolutely amazing. The sound was beautiful - there were 3 percussion stands (two up mid level against the sides of the stage walls and one below in the orchestra pit). Some of the characters joined the rest of the cast from different positions in the audience! It was a lot of fun to watch the "elephants" and other animals make their way to the stage. What a treat it was both visually and aurally. I sat in the front row! My friend Amy and I were giggling like little kids at our great seats.
We did more sight seeing and walked from 31st Street to 59th Street so we could see FAO Schwartz and the rest of the shops of notoriety. It was so fun to see all of the images as a New Yorker I had seen in movies and magazines, but had never gotten to experience. I never felt in any danger. The police had a large presence there and I felt safe even as it started to get dark. I really enjoyed the city.
Energized from new experiences and making new friendships with some of the wives I hadn't met before, I woke up ready for our day at the Writer's Guild. Matthew had us do a character development exercise that was really cool. We had to come up with a name for a character, then list various things that the character would believe in or have in their possession. From the bottom level up, I built a character. It was a very helpful exercise to me. We did some other writing exercises and it was an incredible learning experience.
When the trip came to an end, I was ready to return to my soldier and son, but I was happy that I had learned some new skills, met some amazing, courageous wives of wounded soldiers, and made some INCREDIBLE literary contacts. Part of me did not want to leave New York City as I had really enjoyed the bits of it that I had experienced. I wanted to see more and do more so I will definitely do that when we get to return late October-early November.
I can not thank the Wounded Warrior Project and the Writer's Guild East enough for the experience. It was incredible and I am so happy to have met such a brilliant group of writers. Thank you to everyone that made the trip possible.