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  • Lara O'Brien

My Writing Journey to here

Updated: Jun 13

In 2006, after attending Nancy Aronie’s Chilmark Writing Workshop, I began mapping my life and gaining a deeper observation of life through writing. Over the course of twelve years I discovered a love of daily writing, writing novels, focused journaling, and connection with community through writing articles for the Martha’s Vineyard Times.


Ten years of weekly attendance at author John Hough’s Indian hill workshop guided and shaped my writing and taught me patience, structure and persistence. It also served as my creative outlet while raising four children.


Retreats, literary conferences, and summer workshops in Noepe Literary Center in Edgartown polished my craft while attending travel writing and children’s writing workshops and allowed me to study different workshop structure.


Friendships solidified and professional critiques fortified my work, both within a Martha’s Vineyard group of dedicated authors, and allowed me to begin facilitating and developing writing workshops both for teens and adults.


During the summer of 2017, I came to understand fully that some memories are never spoken, and in need of recovery. This came after spending ten years thinking about my migration from Ireland to the US in my 20’s and the events that lead to it. After six months of intense writing, I finished a novel and finally reached a memory of leaving Ireland that was hidden so deeply I could only fictionalize it to get closer to it.


After writing ‘The End” I decided to go back to the beginning. I returned to the Chilmark Writing Workshop as an observer. I watched writers reluctant to share, holding their breath and their stories so deeply buried, and over four days, they transformed, leaned in, encouraged each other, and found their memories, events, and emotions.


This is the power of the written word. Everything you need to know about your life, if you look, breathe, and are conscious of your words, comes out in your writing. Through personal writing we search out past, present and possibilities, and get to the core of our self. In the words we choose, we find out who we are.


Our journey is mapped out; our story is sealed in a narrative we have already created. The challenge is to blow it apart and see it from a thousand shards of perspective. I call it a map of life, to wander on the curiosity trail, to revisit the past, knock on the doors of what is uncomfortable, to throw down the ugly truth of self denial or sabotage, kindle the younger spirit of energy when the fire of life spirals or diminishes.


In Ireland, there is a well-used phrase: “Take a good look at yourself.” Looking at ourselves is not always kind, sometimes funny, and it is always revealing. Looking in the mirror of the page, if we are truthful, that is the way to get to your core and begin writing freely without the weight of negative emotion. It is the start to rewrite your story and move with healthier emotions towards your life’s focus.


Stack the decks and clear the way.


Writing with consciousness and conviction, takes time and practice. To begin, you must simply pick up the pen and be willing to see who you are, past, present, and all those wild possibilities.


I encourage burning unwanted writing on events, memories and relationships. Let your pages go in tall fires; let them return to ash in simmering embers.


Come write with me!







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