You must change your life. — Rilke

Lisa Hartz

Seven months ago (seven! there’s that number again) I was forced out as co-director of a community writers’ center that I co-founded and nursed into adolescence over the course of nine years. By my business partner. It turned out money was important to one of us. It wasn’t me.

Acquaintances kept referring to this as a sort of divorce. It wasn’t anything like a divorce. This was larceny. This was grand theft. This was breaking and entering and making off with someone else’s identity. I was devastated.

It took some time to process. First, the rage. Then, the sadness. Finally, reality dawned.

I hadn’t felt fulfilled in that role for a long time. I’d resented my business partner’s lack of vision and imagination and the power he had to stand in the way of my ideas. Which he did. Routinely. The hours away from my family were hard to give up. The income was microscopic. The one good thing? The people I helped. The ones who found an opportunity to express themselves in a safe and supportive environment. And the friends they made there.

Lots of conversations with my very patient husband followed. Mostly beginning with him saying: You need to decide what it is you want. What a concept. I hadn’t considered that in years. What did I want? I had served the people I set out to serve and served them well. I wanted something more now. Something even more meaningful.

I wanted to take my writing and teaching skills to people who couldn’t get to or couldn’t afford a literary center. I wanted to help people who are rarely asked to tell their stories. I wanted to be the writer lady who shows up at the shelter once a week and says, Let’s write. Together. And I’ll make it not scary.

And in this way, Seven Cities Writers Project was born. I gathered around me the best and most generous writers and teachers I had the privilege of getting to work with over the years. They became our board. Each of them brings her own passion to the mission. Each will design and direct a project that has special meaning for her. We’ve incorporated, applied for 501c3 status. We’re on our way.

I hope you’ll follow us as we realize this vision. Cheer us on. Give us ideas. Connect us to organizations in the seven cities that could use our skills. We’re your writer ladies. Let’s write. We’ll make it not scary.

6 thoughts on “You must change your life. — Rilke

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