Turning Readers Into Writers

073 - How to say no with love, with Bonnie Wolkenstein

July 29, 2021 Emma Dhesi Season 1 Episode 73
Turning Readers Into Writers
073 - How to say no with love, with Bonnie Wolkenstein
Show Notes Transcript

Bonnie Wolkenstein’s journey to writing was not a singular path. Having written throughout childhood, she wanted to study writing at college but was encouraged to take a more professional degree, and psychology beckoned. 

Since then, she has made her career as a clinical psychologist, while writing in her free time for the sheer joy of it.

Bonnie is a wide reader and after taking the time to think about the sorts of stories she most enjoys writing, she realised it is internal stories. Stories that excavating what lies beneath.

She uses her psychology training on her characters, asking them the same question she might a client, enabling her to delve deeper into their psyche and discover just how complex they are!

We talk about how to submit poetry, and Bonnie says it's a numbers game. You must submit, submit, submit. After taking a lot of advice from other poets and writers, she realised she cannot take rejection personally. It is a part of the process. 

She uses the feedback she gets to revise her work, build her writing muscle, and resubmit.

She recommends you start at the bottom of the ladder, and slowly make your way up the rungs. Don't start by submitting to the big journals like The Atlantic.

We go on to talk about how she balances her work, family and her writing. Bonnie says she's happy to get the balance wrong because it's impossible to get it right all the time. 

And, she says, she's learned the magic of saying no. 

She recognises that there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything perfectly, and so is happy to be selective about what she says yes to.

This includes saying no to the people in her life but saying it with love.

Bonnie tells us about her year-long sabbatical in Spain and Mexico and shares why she decided to do it. We comment on how when you say yes to things, the universe opens up and opportunities present themselves.

Her sabbatical wars a year of change, and a year to live a writer’s life. She says it was a joy to wake up every day knowing she could write, could travel, and experience life at its fullest. 

So inspired was she by her year away that she accepted the challenge to host her own writing retreat in Guanajuato, Mexico. The retreat is entitled Writing From Our Depth and is an opportunity for attendees to dig into their own lives and writing and reach a new level of craft.

If you want to listen to Bonnie speak her poem, Becoming Sepia, head on over to my Patreon page and become a member today.

Links mentioned in episode:

Guanajuato Writing Retreat 2021 – Guanajuato Writing Retreat 2021

Bonnie H. Wolkenstein, Ph.D. | Home (drbonnie.net)

Thoughts from a Thinking Girl (thinkinggirlthoughts.com)

Wild – Cheryl Strayed

Night Sky With Exit Wounds - Ocean Vuong

Julie and Julia – Julie Powell

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Emma Dhesi:

Hello, I'm Emma Dhesi and welcome to another episode of turning readers into writers. If you're brand new here, welcome. And here's what you need to know. This is a community that believes you are never too old to write your first novel, no matter what you've been up to until now, if you're ready to write your book, I'm ready to help you reach the end, I focus on helping you find the time and confidence to begin your writing journey, as well as the craft and skills you need to finish the book. Each week I interview debut authors, editors and industry experts to keep you motivated, inspired, and educated on all things writing, editing, and publishing. If you want to catch up, head on over to emmadhesi.com, where you'll find a wealth of information and tools to help you get started. Before we dive in, this week's episode is brought to you by my free cheat sheet 30 Top Tips to find time to write. In this guide, I give you 30 ways that you can find time to write in the small gaps that appear between the various errands and tasks and responsibilities that you have in your day to day life. I know you might be thinking that you don't have any time to spare, but I can guarantee these top tips will give you writing time you didn't think you had. If you thought writing always involved a pen and paper or a keyboard. Think again. If you thought you needed at least an hour at a time to write your manuscript. I help you reframe that you won't be disappointed. Get your free copy of 30 Top Tips to find time to write by going to Emmadhesi.com/30 Top Tips. Okay, let's dive in to today's episode. Bonnie Wolkanstein is a writer, photographer and psychologist based in Seattle. Her poetry, essays and photography explore what lies below the surface of everyday moments. Her published work includes Penumbra poetica magazine, The Good Life, Kansas City voices drash Northwest mosaic 56 days of August and La presa. Featured readings include easy speak Seattle, renier Valley lit crawl poetry bridge, she is the host of the Guanajuato writing retreat in Mexico, and is finishing a bilingual book of poetry inspired by Guanajuato in Mexico. So let's find out a little bit more about Bonnie her writing and the Guanajuato writing retreat. So Bonnie, thank you so so much for joining me today. I'm really excited to have you here and and chat about your writing life.

Bonnie Wolkenstein:

Oh, thank you, Emma, I'm excited as well, what a great conversation we're going to have.

Emma Dhesi:

Yay. So I wonder if you wouldn't mind starting. So I am always interested in how am I guests their journey from where they were to writing and publishing? What was yours?

Bonnie Wolkenstein:

Well, thank you. It's a big question. And I think like many writers, it has not been a straight line. And it hasn't been a singular path. Mine began in childhood with, with writing and illustrating little tiny stories, I moved into adolescent, teenage kind of angsty poetry. In college, I had the dream that I was going to pursue a degree in creative writing. And my folks were a bit more practical. And they invited or encouraged me out of that idea, thinking that something more more professional would be of use, they thought journalism might be my path. And in that suggestion, I'd never thought about journalism before, what I realized is I have no interest in telling stories about events that are happening, you know, anywhere out in the world, that I'm so interested in the interpersonal, and the intra personal experience. And so I, I began to study psychology, and I made my sort of my career and my professional identity in the world of psychology. And I kept my writing pretty much to myself on the side poems to help me make sense of something that happened, poems that maybe helped me process things and, but never really thought of myself as a writer. So I became a quote unquote, psychologist. And the writing was, I don't know, like, we brush our teeth every day, but we don't walk around saying I'm a professional tooth brusher. So it didn't seem important. I guess it was clearly something that I would do, but You know that but writers did something else.

Emma Dhesi:

I'm writing saying I don't think I sort of specified at the top of that questionnaire that poetry was your first love. Is that right?

Bonnie Wolkenstein:

I think it was, I think it was Yes. Um, you know, over the years, I've tried a variety of different genre. It's like sometimes you go into a hat store, and you try and all the different hats and you just want to see. So I tried short stories, I tried a novel, but what I hear from my, from my writer friends who write short stories and novels, that they have a, like a cast of characters, a menagerie that live in their mind, I don't have anyone up there other than me. So. So as far as I could get was a semi autobiographical first novel that didn't go anywhere. I tried a mixed genre, like biography, memoir, nonfiction, telling the story of geriatric depression, through the basically through the lens of my maternal grandmother, who had never been depressed through her entire life, until she entered a nursing home, and then suffered from a kind of depression. And so I thought, maybe my writing could go in that direction. At one point, I thought maybe memoir or short essay is would be, would be the thing. And so I tried some of those in all the while poetry was just there, like I would always write a poem or something, trying something else. And also, like, like many of your readers, and your listeners, I just read as broadly as possible, trying to find kind of my tribe who writes like me, who interests me, how do they do it? And I ended up understanding that there was a group of people who were keen observers of their internal life, and keen, keen, keen observers of other's internal lives. So people like Cheryl Strayed, who wrote wild and then tiny, beautiful things. Ocean Vong who wrote you know, on Earth, we're briefly gorgeous. Julie Powell, who wrote Julia and Julia, the people who just could not get enough of what makes us tick. And, and I started to understand that that was really where I should be writing.

Emma Dhesi:

So being on top of it isn't a big part of our journey, I think finding where it is that we fit what because if we're broad readers, and we enjoy reading across all different types of fiction, we can get a bit confused at the beginning. And it can take a little bit of time to strategically think about Okay, well, what actually lights me up? And what my natural style, where does it fit in? And what am I actually interested in? So it sounds like you went through that and and you've come out kind of feeling like you were saying, it's the internal stories, there's perhaps there's quieter, more literary stories that are that are appealing to you. Does that be fair? To say?

Bonnie Wolkenstein:

Exactly, exactly. Right, you know, that if I was in a writing workshop, and the prompt was, you know, an astronauts journey to the moon, I'm likely to write something about what the astronaut is thinking or the memories that come up, I might miss the comment that went by, I might forget to describe the soil of the new planet. And I'm going to be all in that astronauts had because that's, like, apparently, that's where I go

Emma Dhesi:

Hmm. And so where do you get those ideas now for your poems that you're still writing? And I know you're making a move back into fiction? So where, where do your ideas come from?

Bonnie Wolkenstein:

Oh, that's such a great question, Emma, I think for me, it comes from lived experience, what happens to me or what happens to other people who I encounter? For me, art is a great inspiration, a painting or a sculpture that I can imagine the interest psychic story for it, and then I might write from there. Travel and sort of being in other cultures being around people who've lived very differently than me, starts to kind of unlock me from the sense of Oh, there's one way of being or those of you know, of course, it must be blah, blah, blah, and it gets flipped upside down. And it's like, there are 1000 of course.

Emma Dhesi:

I'm just wondering to just thinking about what you've been doing in your professional career as a psychologist. And that's definitely dealing with people and the internal stories of people. So are you ever kind of inspired by some of the experiences your clients have had, even though obviously, you wouldn't be writing specifically about them, but that ever kind of spark an idea?

Bonnie Wolkenstein:

Every now and then absolutely. I'll tell you something that I that I've come to understand about myself, which is that I think I'm the same person, when I am in the role of the psychologist as I am, when I am writing something, you know, when I'm the poet, or when I'm the writer, that I really do see the world the same way, I show up asking the same kinds of questions, right, like, okay, here's this pain, and what are we going to do with it? And how do we connect through pain, rather than feel lost in a kind of existential isolation. And often for me, knowing that the purpose of writing, I mean, there's lots of purposes for writing, but one of them for me, is reaching across that divide, to make contact with another person. And they might have a moment of feeling connected, they might have a moment of being seen, even if my words, you know, even if I didn't know anything about their personal situation like writing does that?

Emma Dhesi:

Yeah, yeah, it really does, it does. And now, I'm going to change tack just a little bit, because I've really enjoyed listening to kind of your sort of origin story, if you like, how it sort of came to be. And you've been making this move more and more towards your writing and your creative life. And as a result, you've been featured in a number of publications. And so everyone's always looking for the winning formula. How do I get published? And you've been published a number of times, do you find that there is a kind of formula or a way that you do it that gets you published?

Bonnie Wolkenstein:

And that's, that's a good question, too. I wish the answer were more exciting. I wish the answer were more I don't know, maybe even romantic, or anything that I knew, but anybody would want to write about. For me, I had to first overcome the fear of rejection. Sometimes I think of myself as a thin skinned creature, and I didn't understand that in order to publish, we really have to be willing to get all the rejections and and then how to understand that a rejection isn't personal. And I took some advice from some other poets and from some publishing workshops. And the idea that they had was submit, submit, submit, submit, again, submit, even again, take the pieces that had been rejected and boom, turning them around and submit them somewhere else. Start at the bottom in the sense of, you know, like this, don't shoot for the Atlantic Monthly or the New Yorker magazine poem. But start small and kind of just build up that muscle. And eventually something gets accepted. And you're never quite sure why they accepted that one out of the three or four others that you sent that you might think is a better piece or has a wider audience. So submit, submit, submit.

Emma Dhesi:

I think that's the same for our short story readers as well. We have I have a number of people who do write, they're not specifically poets, but who do write poetry in my audience and a lot of people who also write short stories, and when submitting to magazines for those, it's the same thing. keep submitting, keep submitting. Don't take it personally. It's such a big part of it, I think. Absolutely. Right. And you've reminded me actually of a story that Elizabeth Gilbert talks about in her book, Big Magic, and she submitted a piece to the New Yorker, and that was about it was about an animal. I think it was the elk. It was about an elk. And it was initially rejected. And then 10 years later, she submitted it again, and they accepted it and all the things that had been disliked the first time Ryan Renaud liked the second time round, was really emphasized to me just how subjects if it is often as well, it can be the mood what's in the Zeitgeist and what people are interested in at any one time.

Bonnie Wolkenstein:

Exactly, exactly. It's kind of capricious, and if we can live with that uncertainty, and remember that maybe we're writing primarily for ourselves. I mean, some people are writing professionally, they do have booked deals they have, you know, income that's coming in from it. I'm not in that situation. So so my writing doesn't have to pay a bill. So that frees me up to, to take some of that inks out of it.

Emma Dhesi:

Hmm. Do you find as well then because there isn't that pressure you can be, take more risks with your writing, try things that you might not normally try. If you you know, had if your agent or your publisher, given you a brief kind of, you know, told you this is the story we won't, do you find that the sky is your limit?

Bonnie Wolkenstein:

And yes or no, the yes for is, is that I do have that freedom. And interestingly enough, because I'm a psychologist, because I have clients, there's been a way that I've wanted to protect a little bit of my privacy or protect, in some ways protect. Like, how much vulnerability Can I show on the page, if I'm not writing fiction, if these aren't characters, if most of you know poetry has a way of, of being kind of raw sometimes, and the poet is so close to the words that are on that page, that, that I struggled for a little bit of time about how to protect my vulnerability, and, and maybe I shouldn't say or write certain things that it would expose me to too deeply. And as I've matured, and as I've, I think, gotten more comfortable in both these identities. I am a psychologist, and I am a poet, I am a writer, and I can merge these two things that, that I do have a sense now that I am taking more risks, and I am showing something deeper each time. So my risk isn't financial, but it's more of the what happens with that visibility.

Emma Dhesi:

And being vulnerable can be very, because it's forcing you to dig deeper into yourself the places you might not want to go. Exactly. So you mentioned just there that you are able to marriage these different facets of your life. So as you say, You're very busy. You've got your own clinical psychologist, psychology practice. You're a poet, you're a writer, you've got a social life, family and friends, all of these things. How do you balance that time between your professional life, your writing life and your personal life? Oh, balance. It's something I get asked a lot of how do you do ?

Bonnie Wolkenstein:

Of course, of course. My take on it, Emma, is that I'm happy to get balanced wrong. And I think often I do get it right. I think often we do. But I often get it right, as well. And for me, what became very, very useful was I don't know if you ever read the book by Oh, I might get her name wrong. Shonda Rhimes. And she wrote about the basically the the magic of saying no. Okay. And I think that for any of your the writers that you work with, or the writers, for your listeners, we are all asked to do so many things. And they all make sense. And we all need to do them. And especially the women, we are socialized to say yes. And we're socialized to do as much as we can. And to kind of be at that bottom of holding all those spinning plates. And I have to say that I've gotten better at saying no, but a true No. And also at the same time saying yes. So yes to time for writing every day, and maybe no to being on my phone or checking email or social media or things that aren't going to feed my creativity or replenish me. And so it's this, this balance, you know, is that the right? No? Is that the the right? Yes. And by asking those kinds of questions, I think no matter what I'm attending to even if it's grocery shopping, it feels like the right thing to do at that moment.

Emma Dhesi:

Because one of the questions I get quite a lot, or one of the things that I sense from a number of the people I've talked to is that it's not where they find the push in the pool is and what they find it difficult to say no to is when other people ask them to do things, particularly if it's someone within the church community or that they knew is in dire straits or is needing a bit of support and that can feel very, very difficult. It can feel very selfish to say I'm sorry, but I need to take this time for me for my writing? I wonder if you have any words of wisdom on that.

Bonnie Wolkenstein:

Um, I think that's such a hard situation for us when we're in it. And I think there's two things. One is we live with, we're going to live with regret no matter what. Because there isn't enough time for us to fulfill every role obligation perfectly. On the other hand, if we can live with a little bit of disappointing others, and live with a little bit of guilt, and live with a kind of honesty, where we can say to somebody, I love you, and I know that it would mean a lot to you, if I could fill in the blank. And then also say, and right now I met a really crucial part in my book, or I met a really crucial part with this imagery. I need to I need to pull back a little bit.

Emma Dhesi:

Mm hmm. Yeah. Thank you that I think that that will, it will help a number of people to hear hear somebody else say that. And I particularly like that. It's okay to say no, with love. And you know, say to somebody, I do love you, I do care for you. But I just need to take this little bit of time to myself. Exactly. Which is what you did for yourself, because I know that you took a sabbatical last year.

Bonnie Wolkenstein:

I did. And that was, oh, Emma that came from, you know, first off, I also want to say to this idea of, of saying nose or saying "yes", like I think that we say too many "yes" to other people and too many "no" to ourselves. And so this idea of taking a sabbatical, this idea of living somewhere else, a few years back, I've been traveling, I was in Sevilla Spain, I turned a corner and it was filled with yellows, and oranges. And just the way that severe is filled with color. And I heard myself say, I'm going to live here one day. Now, this is not something I'd ever sat before, not to any other place that I had been in that travel any other place. I've been in that. And my first thought was no, who does that? Right? And so that little tiny idea germinated for about three years. And every time it would come up, it was met with a no, like, how can you do that you're a parent, you've got your practice, you've got your patience, you've got like, You're like a regular citizen, like who can pick up in the like, No, you have to wait till you retire. A million knows. And then one day, I just started thinking, well, what if I said yes to it? What if there were a way of doing it that didn't completely topple my life, I'm also not a huge, like, risk taker, I'm not interested in blowing up my life in order to add something great into it. So over time, it things started to fall into place. And the one thing I did come to realize is that the true "yes" have the support of forces that are greater than us. We get we learn of something that says, oh, check this out, you really can do it. And oh, here's a little assistance from the universe. And here's a little assistance and sometimes the assistance comes in in that great way. I had been living in a rental house for 15 years. And my landlord said to me one day, sorry, Bonnie, we're gonna sell the house so that we can retire in Arizona. And there was this first response like clench Hold on tight to that, which wasn't, I was like, oh, if I don't have to live here. Maybe this is a little message that says, hey, Bonnie, where else could you Ah, and so things like that started to happen.

Emma Dhesi:

And I thought that serendipity when you start seeing the connections,

Bonnie Wolkenstein:

Yes, and being open to them, right, not not dismissing them, not letting our self doubt get in the way. And so I crafted a year off and I will be forever grateful to to my clients who we had about a years worth of time to work toward my being gone for a year. And I envisioned it with them. You know how in the Olympics, there might be 100 people on a Olympics gymnastic team, but the team sends maybe 10 people to the games, you know, 10 of them wear the jersey. And I thought you know, I'm gonna wear the jersey for for my team of clients. Where we talk about bravery. We even talk about risks and we talk about following something that feels or seems true or seems to draw you. And so maybe I should go do this and, and not just like talk about it, and take all those risks myself and live to tell about it

Emma Dhesi:

Is a big thing, not just do I go live in another city, but to live on another continent as well. It's a it is an X ray very, very much. And I wonder what it was that you prompted? what it was that you wanted to take from that year? What was the was there a purpose behind it? Was there something you wanted to explore? Or is it simply just to have that change?

Bonnie Wolkenstein:

You know, Emma, it was my, the last time that I was going to ask the question, am I a real writer? Or am I a quote unquote, hobbyist, which is not a lovely term for people who have actually been writing their whole lives. Because I think people who write their whole lives, whether they ever publish, whether they ever do anything with their writing, same thing with a painter, or a sculptor. You know, I don't like the idea that there's this division between if something is marketable, that makes it real. And if it's not marketable, it's not. Me, I wanted to experience what I call the writer's life, what would it be like, if that was the my quote unquote, job that I was to wake up every day and write and then have around me the inspiration, the new experiences, and basically all the structural support, so that I could write and that's the question that I that I asked, and then I set a goal, which was that I would finish the sabbatical with a book of my own poetry. And I didn't know if it was going to be anything that I had written before. I had no idea if I was actually going to write on my writing year. And so I figured the, the goal didn't matter, like I couldn't fail. It was either going to be pulling together poems that I had written since I was 17, or things that I wrote, while I was on that year. That was my goal.

Emma Dhesi:

Did you hit that goal?

Bonnie Wolkenstein:

I did.! Despite COVID despite not being able to finish my itinerary, and instead of going to for living in four different countries I lived in to it, you know, as if that's a hardship. I had thought that I was going to finish the sabbatical working with Leight Shulman, who you know, from, from the writers, I was gonna go to CELTA, and have a little residential retreat with her for about a month and pulled together the poetry and because I didn't know how to do that, I figured she would help me. But I couldn't get to Argentina, they were on lockdown, and couldn't get in the country. So at the very end of the sabbatical, I realized that I, I was going to either have to give up the goal of the book, or pull it together myself without having any idea of how to do it. And I chose B, because that was..

Emma Dhesi:

Another act of bravery. Yeah, just were saying yes, I'm going for it.

Bonnie Wolkenstein:

Exactly. It was the thing to continue to say yes to I wanted to say yes to that book.

Emma Dhesi:

Oh, beautiful. And well, that's not all you said yes to because I know that the idea for a writer's retreat to host a writer's retreat came to you. And you said yes to that. So I wonder if I'm okay. I'm never sure if I pronounce it correct. But you're you're hosting a retreat later this year in Guanajuato, one at all Guanajuato.

Bonnie Wolkenstein:

If I said it, right. I'll give you my pronunciation and it may or may not be completely accurate Guanajuato

Emma Dhesi:

Guanajuato. Okay, cool, thank you.

Bonnie Wolkenstein:

And that is where I ended up staying for the majority of that sabbatical year because I started in Guanajuato. And then I went for my three months in Sevilla, Spain, and then right before Spain closed for the pandemic, I went back to Mexico instead of going back to the states and ending the year I thought, I'm not working this year anyway. So why not just keep keep not working. And keep the the idea of the sabbatical. So I went back to Guanajuato And I continued with my writing and walking and photography, things that were still available even in, in a stay at home situation. And the last place that I was living in Guanajuato was this gorgeous compound of Casitas named Flora Sara Casitas. And the owner is Liz Mapelli. And she's a graphic designer, originally from from the States. And she's now been living in Guanajuato, I think close to 20 years. And in the past because of the way the grounds are set up, there's a big house with multiple rooms and then separate little Casitas. She had hosted artists retreats, over over the years. And one day, she just turned to me and said, you know, Bonnie, would you be interested in hosting a poetry retreat or a writing retreat here? And again, that say yes, without having any idea of what I was doing, like, of course, I will love it. And thus was born the Guanajuato writing retreat. And indeed, it's going to have its inaugural year this coming November, on top person face to face in Guanajuato. Mexico, which is, it's a magical town, I, I can't imagine that anyone who comes to Guanajuato is untouched by it. And so I think in a way that I was inspired, and it gave so much to me in that year, I'm really looking forward to being able to kind of pay that forward and inspire other writers and and help them go a little bit more deeply inside.

Emma Dhesi:

Yes, because the the the the title of the retreat is writing from our depth. And so I was wondering, especially now that I knew about your year, I wonder what does that mean for you waiting from your jet?

Bonnie Wolkenstein:

Exactly? Well, you know, and I think as writers where we're pulled sometimes to write what we think somebody wants us to write or pulled into a genre or a style of a teacher or a mentor, or, or we're distracted, and we don't have enough time. And so with some time and some exploration, what I'm hoping that writing from our depth means is that we've got some time to go in, like in in in and find out the guidance that comes from there. And when we locate those kinds of our truth, so you know, I can't ever write your characters, and you couldn't really ever write, you know, a character that I might write. But for me to give that character, its truest essence, I have to go to a place in me that sort of shakes off all those other ways that were pushed or pulled or the expectations or the fears of the not being good enough or that fear that no one's going to understand what we're doing and, and this chance to stand in our own internal landscape and right from there.

Emma Dhesi:

Yeah. Well, that sounds wonderful. And I really pleasurable way of kind of finding your voice. Because that's something a lot of writers particularly at the beginning phases, kind of battle with a little bit don't weigh in. What is righteous voice anyway? How do we find it? And so by having a place to go and retreat, like you've said, and in a beautiful place, and with that, that space of physical space and mental space to look deep within a really good chance? Yeah, that you come away knowing yourself better, and knowing your writers voice better. It sounds magical.

Bonnie Wolkenstein:

Exactly. I think it might be.

Emma Dhesi:

So it's, it's been it's taking place in GUANAJUATO And how long is the retreat? Can you give us a little few details about it?

Bonnie Wolkenstein:

Sure. I sure can. Thank you. So it's a week long retreat. And so GUANAJUATO is located in central Mexico north of Mexico City. It's an inland colonial city. It dates back to the 1500s when it was a silver mining town. It's a World Heritage UNESCO site. It's colorful. Everybody will be staying at the EPA. casita compound, it's limited to only 10 people. So this is a very intimate experience. Every day, there's a, there's a topic or a theme for the self discovery, and then an excursion where a little bit of Mexico gets to be experienced, but through that filter, and there'll be time to write individually each day. In the evenings, there'll be time for people to share their writing and maybe workshop it a bit. And as you as you might know, from from traveling, sometimes the thing that really makes a journey is to be able to meet people who live full time in the area. And I've set up the retreat to have to two times to meet local Guanajuato writers. One is there's a couple of writers that are going to come in and lead some workshops in the middle of the week. And at the very end, we're going to have basically an open mic, a community reading, so the participants will, will be reading what they've been working on for the week, but also, it's going to be open again to the local writing community. And so they will be coming in and sharing their writing as well. And that we're going to end on an evening of just this rich immersion in, in writing that's inspired by the place in the people.

Emma Dhesi:

What a wonderful way to not only get the writing done, but also build relationships with other writers who have a different perspective and tell different stories, as well as other kinds of writers who might have the same philosophy as well. It just sends a magical mix, I'm I wish I could go it sounds really good. That's only 10 spaces. So people, if people are interested, they need to look up and not miss out.

Bonnie Wolkenstein:

They do you know this early, I'm really excited where we're at 40% capacity already. So there's, there's a limited number of slots that are still open. I think that that what it offers this, you know, this combination of time and experience, and that support piece that living with other writers and hearing the other voices that you know that you know, it's sort of sparks us we we we get deepened every time we hear another person share their writing. Yeah, so I'm really looking looking forward to that. And I just want to make sure that your listeners know that it's going to be held in English. So So even though it's in Mexico, and and even though I continue to practice and work on my Spanish, that English will be the the language of the retreat and all of our activities, and anyone who comes in who is Spanish will either be well, I'll either be translating, or they'll be bilingual so well, okay. People do not have to know Spanish in Word.

Emma Dhesi:

So I'm sure our listeners are excited. And there'll be someone out there who are chomping at the bit to know how can they book a space on this retreat?

Bonnie Wolkenstein:

Well, I've got a website, Emma for the retreat, and unfortunately, it's a long and bumbly website name, it's guanajuatowritingretreat.com. And I think you're gonna post a link to it. So maybe people will get the spelling, right.

Emma Dhesi:

Absolutely. Well, yes, I'll definitely put that in the show notes. Wonderful. Um, so I'm conscious of time and keeping you keeping you for a long time. And I don't want to do that for you. You're a busy person. But I wonder, can you share with us what it is that you are writing at the moment? What are you personally working on?

Bonnie Wolkenstein:

Two things come to mind. So one is, you know, that book that I promised myself that I would write, it ended up being a book of bilingual poems, in Spanish and in English, all inspired by my time in Guanajuato. And so it just finished editing all the poems in English. And literally this afternoon when when we are done talking here, I have in my email inbox, the final revisions of the Spanish poems, there's an Ecuadorian poet, who was kind enough to offer his assistance in polishing up my my Spanish is, is functional, but it's certainly not poetic, poetic. And so he, he sent me the manuscript back yesterday. So I'm going to be in the process of basically trying to Not basically. But I'm I'll be trying to find the publishing home for that book.

Emma Dhesi:

Oh, well, I wish you luck with that. That's very exciting.

Bonnie Wolkenstein:

Thank you. Thank you. And then the other project that I'm working on is to start writing about and pulling together the poetry that I wrote when I was in Spain for those three months and

Emma Dhesi:

Will not be bilingual as well. Do you think? Or will you stick with English for that one?

Bonnie Wolkenstein:

You know, here's the best way I know how to answer questions like that these days. I'm gonna let the writing Tell me what it needs to be written as.

Emma Dhesi:

I love it. Good idea. And so far listeners who are perhaps interested, not just in the retreat, but also learning more about your writing, where can they find out about that?

Bonnie Wolkenstein:

I have a writing website. And it's called thoughts from a thinking girl. And that's thinking girl thoughts.com. And it is not well curated. It's it's chronological. And so early on, there are some some of those first person memoir style essays. And then there's a shift in the middle. And it's mostly poetry. Now, there's also my own photographs are the ones that come up through the through every page when you when you open it. And so if people want to get a sense for how I write, or they want to kind of struggle to see the development of a writer over time and some clunky stages, it's all out there. Thinkinggirlthoughts.com

Emma Dhesi:

Lovely, thank you all. Bonnie, it's been a pleasure speaking to you. Thank you so much for sharing with us about your own writing journey. And of course, the retreat. Thank you.

Bonnie Wolkenstein:

Oh, thank you, Emma, this has been so delightful.

Emma Dhesi:

Well, thank you so much for joining me today. I hope you find that helpful and inspirational. Now, don't forget to come on over to facebook and join my group, turning readers into writers. It is especially for you if you are a beginner writer who is looking to write their first novel. If you join the group, you will also find a free cheat sheet there called three secret hacks to write with consistency. So go to emmadhesi.com/turning readers into writers. Hit join. Can't wait to see you in there. All right. Thank you. Bye bye.