Back in 2013, a conversation with a friend inspired me to write a sentence a day for a month at a time. Whether or not I had a starting game plan, each sentence led to the next so that I ended up with a cohesive story approximately 30 sentences-long each time. You can check out my first sentence-a-day month (January 2013), as well as a few other examples here and here. Most of them are embarrassing but if I omit or delete things that are embarrassing, I won’t have much of a blog. Anyway, after a few of these sentence-a-day months I decided to open up the experience to others, and the result was beautiful. Regardless of things people insist getting all emo about like talent or skill, when people really care, they create something truly enriching and wonderful. And when they share their creations in a space that is safe and loving, the experience is sacred. I do not feel that I am overstating when I say this.
I’ve learned a thing or two since 2013 about creating events designed to bring eclectic people together, and I’ve also stepped up my organizing and mobilizing skills since then. It’s tricky to get people on board a project not associated with the concrete “necessities” of life that drive calendars and to-do lists, especially when they have to stick with it for a whole month. I’ve found that success mostly comes down to planning (a spreadsheet may be involved), setting clear expectations and, most essentially, nagging. The last one takes a lot of energy and tenacity but, hey, nobody said it’s easy being mama bear.
The original group project in 2013 included eight people. This time, I sent an invitation to about 50 people — friends, acquaintances, strangers, some writers and some not — hoping for about a dozen participants. I got 23. Experience told me that the number would drop, though, and, sure enough, when we gathered after 30 days for the reading and potluck, we were down to 17. That is still a lot of people! 17 writers ≈ 510 sentences = 45 minutes of eating and hanging out + 2 hours of reading and cheering and clapping + a whole lot of beer and wine aka liquid courage. It was a time saturated with vulnerability, audacity, wit, beauty and creativity. If a night like that doesn’t make you fall in love with humanity, nothing will. Even so, I definitely needed a lie-down afterwards. Phew!
There were no instructions for the project, other than a strong encouragement to write a sentence everyday. Most people, including myself, did not write everyday. Everyone came up with their own parameters and rules which, along with the sentences themselves, provided an interesting insight into personalities and ways people process the world. No two set of sentences were alike. As with the 2013 version, many of us are continuing on with part two of the project. During the night of the reading, we drew names out of a bowl and now have another 30 days to create something, written or otherwise, inspired by that person’s 30 sentences. I can’t wait to see the results in a few weeks’ time. I’ll probably need another lie-down.
Some of the participants gave me permission to share their 30 sentences with you so I’ll be posting a lot in the coming days. You’re in for a treat!
Photos by Jon Ritner.
Read about the 2013 30 Sentences Project here.