Tag Archives: inside passage

Inside Story on the Inside Passage – Part Three

NOTE:  It is harder to blog on a cruise ship than I anticipated.  Internet Access is not only expensive, it’s spotty. This entry was written during my cruise, but I didn’t get a chance to post it until I got back.

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Today we’re in Ketchikan, Alaska, our first stop on the journey. There are three cruise ships docked here, dwarfing the town. It’s a lovely spot, isolated and friendly. They obviously cater to cruise ships because there’s no shortage of art, clothing, jewellery, and tourist attracting goodies. Ketchikan_20090831_0042

I asked a local how she felt about it and she said she liked that it brought more people into town. The only way anyone can get here is by boat or plane, the mountains and glaciers are impassable, so I can see how for many months out of the year, it could feel a bit lonely.

The only thing she doesn’t like, she said, was when tourists from the U.S. ask her if they take American dollars there.  Doh!  Sadly, she explained, it happens more often than you might think. Yes, Alaska IS part of the U.S. folks.

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Yesterday afternoon we started some of the real workshop work. Dara has a PhD in mythology and uses myths to get to the heart of the Feminine Heroic. According to Dara, and I wholeheartedly agree, one of the reasons we have become so dissatisfied with contemporary films is that they have become unbalanced, over-stressing the Masculine Heroic – the external journey.

The masculine heroic journey is about the ascension to greatness, the individual staking claim, standing up to power structures, etc. The Feminine Heroic is about the internal transformational journey, going deeper into the place we call “soul.” And just as our own abductions into the underworld are essential for personal growth (i.e. our “dark years” – points of grief, sadness, depression), so these abductions are vital in creating authentic characters and stories that stay with us.

Dara’s lecture was supplemented by Deb’s writing exercises. Deb uses a combination of exercises to recall personal stories and physical sensations (i.e. where on our bodies do we feel our memories). As you can imagine, sharing these stories was quite emotional for several of us. Did I mention that we each got a pack of klenex at the start of class? I think everyone had theirs open by the end of the day.

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Inside Story on the Inside Passage – Part Two

I’ve never been on a cruise before. If I had been given a choice of vacations, it’s not the one I would have picked. And ironically, this was the year I was going to go to Burning Man. A cruise to Alaska is about as far away from that as I could get. Dara Marks thought it was funny, Burning Man vs. The Feminine Heroic (the name of her workshop on the cruise).

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To tell you the truth, I find all this to be a bit surreal. Right now I’m sitting in the deck chair of a moving city, levitating above the ocean, staring out as the Canadian coast rolls by. When I’m in the belly of the ship, I feel like I’m inside an enormous hotel and easily forget we’re moving. I mean, there’s a casino, a library, a huge theatre, cinema, and miles of long halls that remind me of The Shining.

I’m in an inside cabin; not the original plan. The group did some trading around of rooms yesterday and I just said put me anywhere, I’m easy. If I ever in my lifetime take another cruise, I will not book an inside cabin. I realize some people get sick watching the world move by, but I get claustrophobic in a windowless room. So, a note of caution if you ever book a cruise and you’re at all uneasy in small spaces.

In any case, it was so dark and disorienting when I woke up this morning that when I hit deck 10 and saw the coastline, I started to cry. Okay, I tend to cry at the drop of a hat these days being pre-menopausal and all, but it was just so stunning. So much wild, untouched land. I was reminded, once again, that I’m part of something much larger than myself.

We all met up for the first time last night. Fourteen women workshop attendees and our fearless leaders: Dara Marks and Deb Norton. As we each introduced ourselves, Dara handed us a present: a workshop binder, journal, pens, crayons, coloured markers, and chocolate – all inside a beautifully decorated gift bag. We’re loving it already.

Most of us are over 40, but we’re not all writers. We have a few brave visual artists along for the ride. And even as writers, we have differing backgrounds. Dara’s background is in story development for screenplays and Deb is a playwright and theatre actor. The title of the course is Engaging the Feminine Heroic and the idea is not to negate the masculine side of story-telling, but to understand the differences and how to use them together for a fuller, deeper, richer story.

More on that later… right not it’s time to do my homework. :-)

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The Inside Story from the Inside Passage

It’s almost 11 pm and I still haven’t finished packing. I’ll be out the door at 6:45 AM to drive down to Seattle to catch the Celebrity Infinity cruise to Alaska.

photo of Alaska's Inside Passage from shipshoretravel.org

photo of Alaska's Inside Passage from shipshoretravel.org

I’ve never taken a cruise before, and frankly I’d never wanted to until I found out about Dara Mark’s class Engaging the Feminine Heroic, which takes place on the ship. It’s billed as a “7-Day Women Writers’ Retreat at Sea” and it’s going to be a blast.

Dara Marks is the author of The Inside Story: the Power of the Transformational Arc. I highly recommend it for those who’d like to develop authentic, character-driven stories.

A dozen women, mostly over 40, hanging out for a week at sea and taking a class with Dara Marks. How cool is that.

I will be posting every day along the trip about the cruise and the class.

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