Certain people that you encounter in your life will change you, alter the way you experience the world in significant and long lasting ways. The impact of their light, their nakedness, their wild love continues to ripple and shiver and quake all corners of your life, sending out aftershocks that continue long after your focused time together, making things forever different, illuminated. Laurie Wagner is one of those people.
I first heard of Laurie Wagner in the same way I heard about every other good and precious thing I’ve discovered in the past year, on Andrea Scher’s Superhero Journal, this post to be exact. Rachel Cole was also talking about her, how Laurie is an amazing teacher and writing mentor. That was all the proof, the second opinion, the encouragement and nudge I needed (I’m no dummy), so I signed up for Laurie’s Telling True Stories ecourse, the very first run of it.
The structure of the class is simple enough: “a 5-week writing course with 3 weekly lessons, writing assignments, and deadlines. Writers will share their work with the community, giving and getting feedback.” Laurie also set up a private Facebook group for those of us who wanted to play. As in every other ecourse I’ve taken, it’s really up to you how much to participate. Some of us posted something every week and shared feedback and chatted on Facebook, others never said a word–you can do as little or as much as you can, be involved or not, to whatever degree you like.
Even though this is an online course, Laurie’s energy is radiant, vibrant and raw, lighting up and electrifying the space, however virtual it might be. She is at once your favorite grade school teacher, most popular camp counselor, beloved childhood friend (the one who climbed trees and loved books), best girlfriend, and precious mother. She also is the most skilled and kind doula, every piece I wrote for class felt like I’d given birth to something magic and wild. The class wrung me out, wrecked me, in the best possible way. In a Well-Fed Woman interview with Laurie, Rachel Cole says “I know her teachings and how they can crack you open.”
Yes, crack you open and let the light in.
Laurie says in one of her latest blog posts, “If I’m about anything, it’s authenticity. That’s what I teach, that’s the edge I consistently lean into. It’s what I encourage my students to do – to trust that showing up as their natural, vulnerable, imperfect, Words With Friends playing, gorgeous bed-head, didn’t-have-time-to-brush-their-teeth-selves is all we want. In fact that’s WHAT we want!”
I’ve signed up to take Laurie’s “Straw Into Gold” in the fall, but in so many ways, I feel like I’m still in a class with her. Most certainly, her teaching hasn’t stopped. When I sit at my writing desk or stand at my computer, afraid to say what I really want to say, I think of Laurie, her support and her strength, and it gives me the encouragement I need to get real, be messy, tell the truth. Just this week, she posted “10 Tips for Telling the Truth” and #1 was “Ask yourself what you’re afraid to write about. Bingo. Write this.” See, still teaching me.
What my writing needs, adores, desires: space and time, gentleness, kindness, nature, joy, my Pentel Clarius medium point black ink pen, my blog, my copies of Writing Down the Bones and Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott’s Facebook status updates, my dogs, my yoga and meditation practices, quotes from Pema Chödrön, dharma talks by Susan Piver, Mary Oliver poems, friendship, a camera, music, long walks, enough sleep, and now, the beacon of Laurie Wagner’s wild love, her insistence that I show up as I am and speak my truth.
If you are someone considering taking Laurie’s upcoming Telling True Stories, let me tell you, first hand: take this course, do not hesitate, run don’t walk, just do it–you will not regret it. Rachel Cole said it perfectly, about how Laurie and her teachings can “crack you open.” And yet, you will feel utterly safe and protected reaching down into the darkest, most raw place and be willing to roar like a lion about what you find there, will discover a wild power that you didn’t even know was there. Life altering…no kidding.