“I found the real me in Lancaster when I created Write From The Heart.” – Melissa Greene
Melissa Greene grew up in Los Angeles with a show business family. Her father was an Academy Award nominated writer (film lyrics), and wrote with Johnny Carson and Red Skelton. Her mother was an actress who appeared in Citizen Kane, Stage Door with Katherine Hepburn, and other films. But it wasn’t until moving east that Greene genuinely discovered herself as a writer. “My writing blossomed when I lived in Williamstown, MA for 13 years, on the campus of Williams College. I had the privilege of being mentored by author, Jim Shepard, professor of Fiction at Williams. I was able to hear readings by some of the greats: Updike, Bellow, Malamud, etc. and to practice my craft in a serious, artistic environment,” she said in a recent email interview.
This supportive, artistic environment is what Greene is working to build through her Write From The Heart workshops and retreats held in Lancaster, PA. She’s been teaching men, women, children, and teens since 2001 through group workshops and one-on-one coaching. Her philosophy stems from the idea that an artist doesn’t necessarily become an artist through schooling, but rather through unique experiences. “An artist lives, and writing comes out of that life…Experience, of all kinds, is what makes a writer,” she said. Greene relies on the psychology of creativity (how we write, stay focused, and remain excited) to assist her in helping people write freely, happily, and without fear. She refers to Write From The Heart as a “school without walls,” where participants can escape the standardization of cookie-cutter prompts and regimentation of grammar and spelling. Instead, they can spend time focusing on topics they love–topics that have personal meaning and can fuel creativity rather than stifle the urge to write.
While living in Hollywood, California, Greene longed for a more poetic, contemplative writing life. She journaled as a child and moved on to writing poems and stories before working as an ad copywriter. Today she is a published fiction writer and poet, with work published in literary quarterlies including the University of Oregon’s now defunct Northwest Review. She has also followed in her father’s footsteps, writing song lyrics that have been performed by singer Michael Feinstein.
Why do you think workshops are an important part of a writing community?
“I created my particular workshops with one thought in mind: to support the writing process, not the goal of publication. As a long suffering perfectionist, myself, I wanted to help new writers work without self-consciousness, without any of those pesky voices that often stop us, from inside (so many, and varied!). Today, we battle the pressure of time and distraction, so writing becomes an even more valuable outlet, a tool to relax and regain emotional and spiritual focus. It’s one of the last frontiers of the soul. There is – quite simply – no great writing without reflection. I’ve had the privilege of seeing so many new writers, who thought they couldn’t write, for various reasons – become relaxed and fluent. Perhaps we all need to be given a certain permission to set sail into the imagination?”
What about our local literary community would you like to see more of?
“I’m always in favor of a relaxed forum, where writers – veterans and newcomers – can gather with questions and thoughts, eye to eye. Where laughter is a given. And intelligent discourse bucks the anticipated, the expected, the way the world thinks it must be. I support fellowship and discussion about the writing process, and would love to see more of it, and be part of creating it, here in our town.”
Where did the name “Write From the Heart” come from?
“It came from my deep believe that writing has a way to console, illuminate and heal. And it has come to mean more and more, I believe, as our world has sped up, and begun to lose touch with the senses. I might as well have called it Write from what you see, or Write from what you smell, Write from what you hear! Writing has so much to do with the senses and how we observe the world around us. I believe those intuitive responses come first, then writing –from a sincere and thoughtful place within – follows, naturally.”