Standing in the San Francisco living room we’d just renovated at considerable expense (Let’s make our living place beautiful! They’ll lend us the money so why not increase the beauty and utility of the place we’re living in; isn’t that more or less a given human good? Is that not what living in a city is all about?), the magnitude of what I’d done, debt-wise, was crashing in on me and I just thought, People ought to come in here and create in this space! And thus was undertaken this life-changing and priceless endeavor, the workshops.
The thing is, it was a dream, it was a gesture of solidarity with other writers, and it was also a business, something that could sustain itself. And I realize now that feeling a little desperate was a spur to action. And maybe though we complain about the insecurity of the creative life, maybe it’s good for artists like me to be a little hungry, to have to connect with others, to have to scrap a little and figure out how to make things work.
What was the point I wanted to make?!
In the instant of creation we are completely free, but our business decisions have mostly been responses to things people need. I knew intuitively that people were pleased with the aesthetic and the sentiment of my columns and would trust me enough to come here and work with me creatively: That because of the way I write, and the approach I take, people sense that I’m a decent, honest, caring person, that I’m not a bullshitter, that I care about the creative side. I knew that.
But then when people from around the world started saying, Well, I’d like to come to a workshop but I’m in Japan, or Philadelphia (which one is farther from California? Sometimes I’m not sure), we responded to what people said they wanted. So we started doing the getaways. And then when people said, it’d be nice to come to a getaway but can’t afford it, or it’d be nice if you could do workshops online, then I said OK, let’s figure that out, let’s do things online. So we started doing that.
Now we do all kinds of things. Now we live in Italy. But it’s all about what happens in the workshops, one writer at a time.