My Fearless Writing: A Virtual Adventure with Crescent Dragonwagon



photo by Daniel Holtz

You are walking through an avocado grove and you notice this tree stump.  AND the snake.  Do you (a) run?  (b) try to touch it?   Or do you just stand there and observe?  This handsome little guy is a baby rattle snake…he was  born this summer and is just learning to get around on his own.  On this warm fall day he came out to take a nap in the sun.  Our son found him coiled on an avocado  tree stump,  but  knew to stay clear…because a baby rattle snake is more likely to deliver a full dose of venom when he bites…and baby rattle snakes don’t have a noisy rattle that warns of impending danger.


undeveloped rattle on the end of a baby rattle snake (photo by Daniel Holtz)

Such a tiny snake would be easy for a hawk to snatch and carry away, but the bite of a baby rattler can kill.   There is  no noisy rattle on his tail to warn away those who might do him harm, as his rattle has not yet matured.   During warm weather, we stay out of the dry leaves along the edges of the roads in the avocado groves.   Best to stay out in the open…and wear shoes!

Unless you live out in the wilderness, you probably  don’t expect to encounter  snakes or other wild animals.  Just seeing a picture of a snake is enough to startle some folks out of their comfort zone!  That  deer-in-the-headlights feeling of initial panic,  followed by ‘what do I do now?’ and finally the decision to run away or quietly observe, is similar to the process of writing for many of us.  How do we get  past a frightening obstacle  that stops us in our tracks?

During this past month,  I have been participating in the very first Virtual Fearless Writing Workshop,  presented by writer, teacher, and author  Crescent Dragonwagon.  The workshop is not just about writing.

“If you’ve ever found yourself stopped cold by unexpected change, doubt in your own abilities, uncertain outcome,  other peoples’ needs, or unfamiliar economic, technological, or social conditions, Fearless Writing offers a way to stop being stopped.”


I brought an avocado from our farm in California for Crescent Dragonwagon when we met at Aldrich Library in Barre, Vermont

You may remember the post I did about Crescent’s cookbook,  Bean By Bean a year ago.   Last summer  I was excited to meet Crescent Dragonwagon in person when she spoke  at Barre, Vermont’s local Aldrich Public Library “Meet the Author” series.   We had already become Facebook friends after we connected on social media, and I had been interested in attending one of  her annual Fearless Writing Vermont weekends.   Of course, I had to bring an avocado gift  from our California grove!

It was such a joy to be in the municipal library once more where I spent so many hours during my childhood, and to listen as  Crescent  read aloud her story,  Bat in the Dining Room.

BatintheDiningroomThat night I added Crescent’s Fearless Writing Workshop to my ‘bucket list” , but doubted that I would be able to do the 4 day workshop on a Labor Day weekend.  When she mentioned that she planned to do an online version of the class,  I knew there was no way I could miss out!  I signed up as soon as the registration page appeared online.


With my phone on “Speaker” and Crescent on my computer screen, I was able to participate in Virtual Fearless Writing without leaving home!

Crescent and her partner, film maker David Koff,  offered the Fearless Writing workshop this fall for the first time  via e-mails, conference calls with online video and chat,  a private Facebook community and YouTube videos.  Instead of spending four days with Crescent in her Vermont home, Crescent came into our lives for 32 wonderful days via the internet.   Our first-time group of intrepid Virtual  Fearless writers spent a whole month exploring our memories,  creating new habits, and  discovering new ways to think about writing.   Each of us brought our own challenges of time and inclination, as well as  our own previous writing experience or inexperience.

By the end of the month with Virtual Fearless Writing, I felt as though I had spent some time in Alice-in-Wonderland’s rabbit hole, vaguely  familiar but fascinatingly foreign at the same time.    Each morning an e-mail from Crescent arrived like a fortune cookie meant only for me,  and private visits from Crescent via YouTube helped light the path ahead.  Some of the daily writing assignments were  deceivingly simple.  Others kept us engaged for hours, like baby chicks pecking away from the inside of an eggshell.


Crescent Dragonwagon’s online Virtual Fearless Writing workshop was a month-long adventure in writing and learning.

I came away from Virtual Fearless with a newly acquired determination to do daily writing.  The writing can be purely personal, or it can be something worthy of sharing.

Since my  blog is about sharing life on an avocado ranch, recipes, and stories,  I have decided to commit to blogging daily during the month of November as part of National Blog Posting Month.   I’ll share some travels, daily discoveries here on the avocado ranch, tidbits about life.   My posts will probably be shorter,  and there may be fewer recipes if I am posting every day, but   I hope you will cheer me on here at Mimi Avocado.  How can you help with this challenge?   Comment on this post, and let me know what you’d like to hear about.   Ideas for posts are welcome!  I love to  hear from readers, so don’t be shy … say hello! And I promise I’ll answer all your comments personally.

By the way, if you would like to be included in the next Virtual Fearless Writing Workshop,  join this  Facebook page now  and you’ll hear all about it.


NaBloPoMo November 2013




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