Finishing School: The story behind the workshops … and the book

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In 2004 I was finishing up an article for Salon.com about George W. Bush and the upcoming presidential election, when I thought I was having a heart attack. I hit “send” and then I dialed 911. I called my wife from the ambulance. I spent the night in the hospital.
Tests showed I was not having a heart attack. I was having a panic attack. That whole episode got me thinking: Maybe I was a little too stressed out.
I needed to find a more humane approach to creativity, that would stress community. So I read Pat Schneider’s book Writing Alone and With Others.
By 2007 I was leading Amherst Writers and Artists style workshops, using the method describe in her book. And that kind of saved me. But I was still driven to write for publication and that meant finishing big projects, and putting pressure on myself. So I came up with a workshop style that was a twist on the AWA method, and also borrowed from something I’d had experience with called Artists Anonymous, which was a 12 step knockoff. This workshop I created kept a humane foundation but it focused not on creating work in the present but focused on finishing writing projects and for that matter finishing all kinds of projects.
I called it Finishing School. And it got results.

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