Elemental Writing: Decompose
we are the unwritten
a six-month adventure into the heart of fall and winter
September 21, 2023 – February 28, 2024
Registration opens August 16, 2023
A decomposition declaration:
I’m not the writer I thought I was. I’m not the writer I was supposed to be.
I’m not interested in “good” writing. I long to write that which is true. Even if it’s messy. Especially if it’s messy.
I do not write from a sterile lawn devoid of weeds. I write from wild vines and blooms and the fecundity of rot. I am the weed that rises unbidden, decays in place, and makes the neighbors gasp.
I do not shy from matters grave.
I dig for the secrets of bones. I face and embrace my own mortality, my part in the ongoing cycles of life and death.
Most often our focus as writers is composition. What are we going to make? How might we put it together?
In this adventure, we’ll ask: what are we going to unmake—in our writing process, in what we write about, and how we write about it?
This question and others will pull the thread of our holy unraveling.
How have we already been undone, and how do we live with that?
What are the gifts of being undone, of decomposing?
What can discombobulation teach us not just about editing, but also starting fresh? Is starting fresh an illusion?
What would it be like, instead of resisting it, to surrender to losing all sense of who we were or what we thought/assumed made us alive? When we decompose, what are the parts revealed in our selves and stories?
What do we know about being unmade, undone? How does it happen all the time and not just once with death? What can we learn about decomposition from the animate earth around us?
How might all of this fertilize our writing – process and content? In what ways can learning from decomposition reinvigorate our creative lives?
Elemental Writing: Decompose starts at Fall Equinox. A seasonal crossroads. An invitation into six months of delicious descent and discombobulation. A chance to dig deep with a small band of writer-seekers. If you feel the summons in these words, these questions, this invitation is for you. Read on.
I love the Elemental Writing sessions. I feel held and inspired, and my writing pours through me. Jen’s skillful, humorous, inventive space-holding has sparked a renewal of my creative flow.
Elemental writing means:
- infusing your words with vitality through connection and relationship with all the elements—water, earth, fire, wind, and more. Through connection and relationship with everything in the animate world.
- remembering the life in the words and in the act of writing.
- writing not as a brain product or even a heart product, but rather writing as a wholly embodied act of a wholly embodied being.
I was seeking some inspiration and support to boost my creative writing and Elemental Writing was exactly what I needed. Jen combined ritual, community-building, and coaching to create a beautiful writing program and experience. I was able to unlock my creativity to put words to some stories that I’d long needed to write and share.
Elemental Writing: Decompose Monthly Breakdown (pun intended):
Month 1: Falling Apart
Atrophy. Morbidity. Dis-ease & doorways. Discombobulated drafts: letting a piece of writing fall apart. Letting a writer-self fall apart. Voice and the illusion of composure. Denouement in process & content. Falling apart as refinement & revelation. Gothic literature. Becoming a writer elder.
Month 2: Magic in the rot
Rot & mold. Story bridges: the sacred art of transitions. What’s spoiled in your story, in your process? How might you find the treasure in the turning? When and how “going bad” yields gifts. Dancing with ghosts. Telling ghost stories.
Month 3: Compost
The composure of compost. Invertebrates & fungi. Scraps as scripts. Compost as return. Return to the underground. Plutonian patronage. Underworld-building. Plot: tying together all that’s been pieced apart. Hybrid forms. Speculative elements.
Elemental workshops have been a place where I can be myself in a completely nonjudgmental circle of other writers…which gives me the opportunity to expand, take risks and land on my feet! It’s rare to find an inclusive and fun vibe such as this in our critical world.
JD-One, Cartierville, CA
Month 4: Mourning
Funeral rites & mourning history. Demeter & Baubo. Tears and laughter. How animals grieve. Wakes and word vigils. The art of the pause. Honoring and crafting endings. Final chapters. A funeral for the writer I was.
Month 5: Remains
Bones & ashes. The valley of bones & the fiery phoenix. Archaeology and excavation. Character skeletal systems. Fictive fossils. Story bones and structure. Outlines as containers. Essence and theme. Hekate as guide.
Month 6: Going to Seed
Resurrection plants & regenerating creatures. Torpor & hibernation. Writer hermit cycles. Persephon-ication. Goddess of Springtime & Queen of the Underworld. Deterioration as incubation. Life after death. Harvesting story seeds. The art of reinvention. Sequels and sifting.
These classes have gotten me through the year, as the world opens up from these last few traumatic years. Your instructional style is different than any other class I’ve been in. You’ve gathered wise and wonderful material each week and you provide an optimal environment for the kind of free creative expression I’ve been craving.
Kerry Kijewski, Ontario, Canada
What’s included in this six-month adventure:
- 1 recorded lesson a month (approx. 1 hr.) Introduction to and unpacking of the theme of the month, including a guided meditation and embodiment practice and simple opening and closing rituals, accompanied by reflection sheets, resources, and other handouts. Sent on: September 21, October 19, November 16, and December 14, 2023, + January 11 and February 8, 2024
- Two 2-hour writing retreat opportunities per month—one Monday daytime, and one Wednesday evening, intended for you to come to either or both, with awareness that one of the two options may work better for you. Regardless, each Monday and Wednesday writing retreat will offer different doorways into the month’s theme and tap into the rhythms of different times of day. Awesome if you attend both each month; awesome if you attend one. Part of Elemental Writing is trusting and knowing the rhythm of your own timing. Each retreat will be a chance to go deep into writing and reflection on that month’s theme. Always framed by ritual and including embodiment practices. To write, share work with other participants, be witnessed and offer witnessing, and receive & give generative feedback. Not recorded, but prompts & practices will be available to all participants.
- 6 Mondays daytime. 11:00 a.m. to 1 p.m. PT: September 25, October 23, November 20, and December 18, 2023, + January 15 and February 12, 2024
- 6 Wednesday evenings. 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. PT: October 11, November 1, November 29, and December 27, 2023 + January 24 and February 28, 2024
- One office hour session per month, 5 on Fridays 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. + 1 alternate day session to be announced. A chance to bring your questions, challenges, insights, breakthroughs & breakdowns. Simple opening and closing rituals. Always opportunities to remember and care for our bodies. Recordings made available to all participants. October 6, November 10, and December 8, 2023 + January 5 and February 2, 2024
- A password-protected web page with all course materials—prompts, practices, rituals, reflection sheets, resources, links to recordings—and a place to engage in discussion with other participants.
- A special decomposition care package mailed to you in advance of class to support your six months of deterioration and descent, your excavation and reinvention. Treats and treasures for ritual and exploration. (Note: If you live outside the US, contact me before you register because I may not be able to ship to you. If that’s the case, we’ll arrange for some other magic in lieu of the care package).
Elemental Writing: Water turned out to be so much more than I expected it to be–not only did it include time and prompts for generative writing, but also elements of writing craft like voice and narrative arc introduced through water metaphors. Jen is a sensitive facilitator, and she attracted a group of writers who inspired and supported me. I am eager to sign up for the next in the series.
Andrée, Portland, Oregon
At the end of six months, you’ll have
- a rich collection of craft and process tools, lessons, activities, reflections, and resources to take with you and use in all phases of writing: dreaming, generating, revising, shaping, resting.
- deepened your relationship with your story, yourself, and the fullness of the cycling of life and death.
- excavated the underbelly of your creative process and located the magic in your own beautiful decay.
- accumulated ample creative fertilizer and fodder for new writing as well as revitalizing what you’ve already created.
- written in community, fueled by community, witnessed and fed by generative feedback.
- incorporated ritual and embodied awareness into a regular creative practice.
- cultivated relationships with a wondrous group of other writer-seekers.
- a chance to share your writing at an end-of-year public reading and celebration in November 2023 (and again in 2024).
Elemental Writing is not just an intellectual exercise in writing. It is an immersion in the depth of connection with the world within and without! Jen beautifully weaves ceremony, writing exercises, and wisdom about writing, prompting inspiration, insight, and opportunity for novices and experts alike to hone their craft – whether for publication or self-reflection. Each class of the Elemental Writing course on Water was fully engaging, stocked with thoughtful and thought-provoking experiences, and opened me, heart and soul, to a new way of being in relationship with writing and with water, in me and on the Earth.Mary Reaman, Dayton, Ohio
Twenty spots available. Registration closes September 15, 2023.
Investment: Full price for Elemental Writing: Decompose is $1,692 USD. This takes into account all the time, effort, care, education, and experience that goes into it, as well as that it’s offered not by a corporation, but by an individual who handles all components. Knowing that financial situations/privilege are different for each person, and with the intention to make this course accessible, I’m also happy to offer three tiers for payment. I trust you to choose which option is right for you.
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I was drawn to Elemental Writing with Jen after hiring her to coach me on a book I’m working on where she guided me to more deeply consider the elements and role of nature in my writing. Jen is so beautifully attuned to the changes in season in the world and in the self, the ebb and flow of sensory experience, and playful ways to access these in writing. Her prompts are the best, and her writing programs always encourage confidence in expression and sharing. Plus, they help me connect more fully with what’s happening in the natural world of which I’m part.
An Elemental Writing adventure is for you if:
- you want your writing to come alive with sensory awareness.
- as a writer, you understand or want to understand yourself as one voice amidst a chorus of many animate beings—plants, mountains, oceans, eagles, stone, starlings, desks, foxes.
- you long for a deeper connection with yourself as part of the animate earth.
- you thirst for something simple, essential, deep, and true.
- you’re hungry for a new vital way to work through or into your writing project.
- you need a course that acknowledges, engages and supports your embodied life as a writer, that puts your work and play as a writer back into your body rather than severing your imagination and your mind from the muscle and breath and blood and bone of you.
- you know or want to know your stories as living beings.
Add your name to the Elemental Writing ecosystem list for updates and information on all Elemental Writing offerings.
I signed up for Elemental Writing because I was looking for nurturing accountability (my creative impulses to write are there – if left to my own devices, I don’t always act on them). I didn’t want a lot of rules – I wanted space and safety – and a touch of magic along with it. I wanted to share my work in a community of writers where we all honored the vulnerability of writing and sharing and being in a container together. What I got was all of that PLUS SO MUCH MORE. I felt seen, heard, held, accountable, inspired – my whole body engaged with the program and it was exactly what I needed to get myself reacquainted with my voice again. This program is for you if you’re looking for a whole mind, body, spirit experience with your words, your voice, your life – it is pure magic in a bottle that gets better each week as you feel yourself expanding into the space, onto the page and into the world that surrounds you.
Stacey, Baltimore, Maryland