jenn farrell

Writer. Editor. Teacher. Public speaker and professional cheerleader to writers of all stripes.

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Intrepid Adventures

Posted on January 29, 2012 at 5:45 PM

Writing is a lonely business. January is a bleak month. Add in the post-holiday doldrums, and you’ve got a recipe for a crabby, dejected writer.


So yesterday was a real bright spot. I went and spent a few hours with the gals at Intrepid Pens, and emerged feeling better about my work than I had in weeks. Intrepid Pens, for those of you who don’t know, is a creative writing and reading group for women in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.


I went there with some writing exercises and “lessons” in hand, but also with a new story to read and just some general ideas for discussion. I love presenting for a lot of reasons—I like to be useful, I like to hope that I can motivate or inspire people, and I like to swap ideas with like-minded individuals. But what I got yesterday was so much more. I can’t tell you everything, but let’s just say that I think I selfishly took more away than I gave. It’s not very often you find yourself in a group of people who are so generous with their support and their stories.


Here’s what I took away: Our stories are all we have. When we die, everything dies with us: our petty disagreements, our unfinished business, our grudges. But most of all, the history of who we are as only we can understand it. When we slip from this world, that unique experience, that one-of-a-kind mind goes with us. (I knew this to be true when my mother died. It made me realize how little I really knew about her life, and her experiences, because she wasn’t able/willing to share those things. In the absence of our shared battles, what was left?) All that we can truly leave behind for others are our stories. Our stories are how our children and our friends will remember us. We are obliged to share them as best we can, and as honestly as we can, and in the medium that makes sense for us. It could be writing, or painting, or talking, or whatever works.


Organizations like this one are the reason I keep on teaching and presenting and doing what I do, even when I get disillusioned in the dark of it all.


I urge you to learn more about Intrepid Pens and find a way to contribute: with your time, energy, connections, or money. It won’t be wasted. Thank you to the fine ladies of Intrepid Pens, and to Amanda, who puts the whole thing together and is the coolest. I should have been the one bringing you ladies flowers!

Categories: Events, Jenn Farrell

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