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Notes from a Writers Workshop in Paradise!

13 Jan

Sign up with Phanganist at the registration form and receive a 50$ discount! 


That was one good week of Writers Workshop in the Sanctuary back in September! 

A new workshop led by Gruber will be held at the waterfront Mermaid Villa 20-25 February, 2018. 

More details follows here and below. Registration form at the bottom. When you sign up with Phanganist.com you receive a 50$ discount!

Big thanks to Brian Gruber and Kate Evans for organising this brilliant week of writing in Septemeber! Thanks to the Sanctuary for having us and thanks to everyone who attended. You all made it to be the week it was! Thank you!

Phanganist are proud to announce that the workshop will continue in a series of workshops here on Phangan! Koh Phangan Writers Join Forces to Launch Writing Workshop Series!

“The Tropical Writer’s Tool Kit” to provide in-depth training on social media writing, online promotion, personal storytelling, creative development and monetization.

Koh Phangan is known worldwide as a destination for exuberance, spirituality and lush tropical beauty. Add creative growth and development to that mix and you have an exciting new Phangan retreat experience.


Island writers Brian Gruber and Kaila Krayewski promise a unique, immersive five-day experience of writing, classes, sharing and creative exercises to advance your literary and commercial aspirations.

Fresh off leading their own memorable workshops at The Sanctuary and Phanganburi Resort, Kaila and Brian will bring years of experience as authors, content marketers, journalists and coaches to the event. “We will deliver a mix of
hard-core content marketing tools and spiritual creativity exercises,” promises Krayewski. “Anyone with an interest in advancing and practicing their writing skills will have a ball, leaving with a practical, usable set of new
tools.” 

“There is growing interest among digital nomads, expats and travelers to create captivating content that will engage audiences,” suggests Gruber. “Whether for personal expression, for commerce or effective digital
communication, we are all now content creators and we all want to tell our stories with refined style and impact.” 

Session themes include memoir writing, self-publishing, funding your projects, writing attention-grabbing headers and content for social media, how to edit and proofread, how to make your blog post stand out, how to master the art of observation, interviewing skills, how to tell your story, and much more. 

Mermaid Villa will be the scene of the experience, a lush waterfront, poolside home in Sri Thanu. A Thai chef will handcraft meals, and one of the island’s most esteemed yoga teachers will lead relaxation, breathing,
meditation and creative visualization exercises.


WHEN: ​20-25 February 20-25, 2018.
COST:​ Workshop with luxury beachside accommodation is $1,350 USD, and without accommodation, $750 USD.
WHAT NOW?​ Sign up here below for registration details and preferred lodging for early registrants..

WHO WE ARE:
Brian Gruber began his media career as the first marketing director of C-SPAN, where he hosted national call-in shows with politically prominent guests such as Cesar Chavez, Nancy Pelosi and John McCain. He
founded FORA.tv, which brought the world's leading public forums (Chautauqua, New York Public Library, Aspen Ideas Festival) to the web, conducting interviews with writers and public intellectuals such as Norman
Mailer, Malcolm Gladwell, Christopher Hitchens and Robert MacNeil. He also founded ShowGo.tv, an automated platform livestreaming the world's elite jazz clubs.

He is the author of two books, Dauphin, Dorian & Dead and WAR: The Afterparty, a Kickstarter-funded global tour of the scenes of the last half century of U.S. military interventions. He co-hosted a writing workshop at The Sanctuary in September and has led workshops
on personal visioning and storytelling for individuals and groups for four years. He is currently working on a biography of jazz fusion great Billy Cobham. Visit his website at grubermedia.com.

Kaila Krayewski kick-started her writing career with a degree from the prestigious Carleton University Journalism School, before moving on to a Master’s degree in International Relations in the UK.

Her feet already starting to itch, she ventured to Asia, where she began a career in content marketing. She swung from magazine editor to university marketing professor and many similar jobs in between until she finally started her
content marketing company. Kaila’s company, Archipelago Communications, works with high-end brands like the Shangri-La Hotel Group, Momondo, Calvin Klein, Nine West, AIG, and more, helping them deliver the most
engaging content to their fan bases both on and offline. She recently opened The Content Castle, a haven for writers’ on Koh Samui.

Excellent teachings in writings. Tools and aids in many forms! Very helpful for any writers! Community fun and good stories all over! Sanctuary also offers a wide range of services, like massages and healthy workshops with Yoga, belly dancing, fire dancing, Macrame makings, cooking classes etc!!

The group was under good supervision and mornings began with a writing excercise which was followed by a group session. Afternoons was mostly for personal writings and the evenings for sharing what was written in the day. Tools and aids would be given in the morning and the day would then continue with practises and excersises to help the group implement the tools into their dayli writings.

Among the members of the workshop was Mark Phinney! A characteristic dude with lots of funny life experience, a heart of gold, open mind and awareness and always with a loving smug smile on his face that you would grow to love.  Looking for a good story for the magazine about the workshop my ears fell on Mark Phinney!
"Yeah I got a story or two about the "Write Your Story In Paradise" retreat. Not winkadee-wink stories no, though I got some of those, more thinkadee-think." he said.

"As I've mentioned, mostly women writers in a boat-in-only paradisiacal wonderland tucked on the backside of Koh Phangan, a tiny island in the Gulf of Thailand. The Thai nation is still in year-long mourning for their deceased king, one of the longest-reigning monarchs in world history."

Many writers came to Sanctuary Beach Resort with open hearts. For the rest of us, this remote tri-bay area worked like the Jaws of Life - pried our hearts right outta their hidey-holes. Very magical place. More so, when you arrive with magical intent.

Our meeting space is a hundred stairs or more from my unit which is already a hundred stairs or more from the beach. Not stairs at all really, more like geomorphic anomalies that, over time and erosion, chanced into stair-esque abominations. The space itself is initially hard to find, on purpose. It belongs to the owner. First time up I miss it six times. An extra ninety stairs, give or take. My laptop now pasted to my shirt by a solid sheen of forearm-sweat. I can SEE the damn place, I just can't get to it. Well worth the effort though, such a lovely spot.

Old ceramic urns filled with lilies, alive with the croaks of small frogs, a tiny storybook meadow sprinkled with storybook flowers. A raised breakfast patio with table and two chairs and inlaid ceramic tiles, a narrow wooden walkway leading to a thin, doorless portal. And once inside you are immersed in warmth and openness. High canted ceiling, off-white walls, sparse, lively modern art, floor-to-ceiling windows, warm wooden floor and mouldings, and just the right size for our group. It felt like a fairy tale.

And there you have the set-up.

So get this:

Day three and I'm really digging all the material and the sharing and the people and everything. So I've decided that I'm going to "entertain" everyone with my next writing endeavor, I have a funny story in mind.

Since I've anchored my ongoing path of heart-opening with a new therapy of "heart-centered entertaining," I'm afraid I've bought into a rather questionable merger. But of course I'm totally stoked and words tumble out my brain onto blue-screen like popcorn rain. Twenty minutes done and edited. Ten more chuckling how I'm gonna crack up the room.

Evening is sharing time and I'm more than ready, "I've just got the funniest damn thing here that poured right out of me this afternoon, mates...

Ahem...

LSD experiments. Acid culture.

Dr. Les Festerhaven, dressed rather drably in a brown suit and white shirt centered by a thin un-patterned tie of a darkish hue, returned to test room five and asked Mrs. Eliot Hayes how she was feeling.

Mrs. Hayes, an extremely pleasant suburban housewife who had scored abnormally high on the Institute's Normalcy Index, thereby securing her a place in the experiment and fifty bucks for a new dress, sat on a standard-issue metal chair with a 3" seat cushion and 1/2" padded backing dressed in a long-sleeved white blouse and black skirt and smiled a rapturous smile and replied,

"WONDERFUL! Everything is so A-LIVE!"

"Can you describe the sensations?"

Dr. Festerhaven edged a small microphone, secured to a tiny stand and attached by a thin white cord to a quarter-inch Sony reel-to-reel tape recorder which sat before them all-by-itself on a standard three-by-six metal meeting table, a bit closer to the wife of Eliot Hayes.

Mrs. Hayes gave the Sony a sidelong glance, her face remaining radiant.

"Oh my goodness it's...it's so....beautiful!...I...uh...everything...uh...everything is repeating...forever, backward and forward but...it's...it's also...uh...very...uh...still...standing still!"

"Are you experiencing any unusual visual phenomena? Are you seeing things?"

"Oh YES! The colors they...they're alive too I think, doctor, they...they can make music, beautiful music...every color has it's own music!...every color...ALL the colors they...they're DANCING!...I feel they're...they're happy!...I can feel it!...I'm with them and...and...they're WITH EVERYTHING! I...I...it just keeps on, you know, it just keeps spreading...OH!...like a ripple...but also...uh...an OCEAN! The ocean is made of ripples, tiny ripples all...I...all LAYERED, uh, forever! It's...I've never...I've never seen anything so beautiful and me, ME! I'm IN it! I can ripple (giggles)...I...I AM a ripple, there...uh...there is no...uh...me though, I don't...know, uh...how to tell you, doctor...there's...NO ME!"

The stalwart Mrs. Hayes struggled desperately to find words - as a highly normalized individual she felt a deep responsibility towards the experiment and her commitment to it. She continued to try to explain what was happening but her frustration grew. Finally Dr. Festerhaven glanced down at his notes which he'd written in a clear steady hand inside of a standard spiral-bound notebook containing fifty sheets of yellow eight-by-ten-inch paper delineated by twenty-six light-blue horizontal lines and decided on redirection.

"Mrs. Hayes, is there anything unpleasant about what you're experiencing? Are you in any discomfort?"

Her face darkened slightly, then took on a look of surprise. Her eyes lowered. She spoke.

"No doctor...it's wonderful."

Her former enthusiasm had noticeably declined. She held her gaze on the floor, glancing up shyly now and then. She was obviously engaged in some internal strife. Dr. Festerhaven, noting this marked change in Mrs. Hayes' demeanor, proceeded with the line of inquiry. He smiled,

"Mrs. Hayes, please remember that this IS a clinical experiment. Anything you say will be entirely confidential. I must urge you now to try and be more specific. You seem agitated. Can you please try to explain your discomfort? Remember, just a minute ago you were in a VERY good mood."

"It's hard, doctor...uh...so hard to uh...everything is sooo beautiful and...but..."

"Please Mrs. Hayes," the doctor said steadily, "your insights into the effects of lysergic acid 25 are extremely important to myself and my staff, I encourage you to try your best to explain your discomfort."

At this plea Mrs. Hayes sat upright and adjusted her skirt, wiggling a bit in her chair to do so. Her eyes remained fixed on her lap as she thoughtfully, lovingly smoothed her skirt with both hands.

Dr. Festerhaven waited, his gaze intent on Mrs. Eliot Hayes, test subject number four.

With obvious effort Mrs. Hayes began to answer. Staring the doctor straight in the eye she finally said, in a tiny voice,

"YOU'RE in the room.""

I get zippo, nada, blank stares. I embrace the Goddess of Entertainment and she backhands me across the kisser. My career in comedy-writing implodes. Painfully. I'm not even hiding my shock, my bewilderment. I say to the room "Huh? It's a JOKE! What the heck is wrong with you people?"

And the punchline of this little joke-within-a-joke?

This open-hearted, curious, thoughtful, evolved bunch of humans, bunch of seekers - you know what they wanted? What they expected? Indeed, what they were waiting for?

More descriptions about the LSD!

And all they got was a rimshot. Ba-Dum-Tssshhh!

Set and setting, boys and girls, set and setting. Crucial for tripping, yes, but I had no clue the concept can apply to the clinically sober as well. Had I told this story in a comedy club I'm sure my intended reaction would've held sway. Or not.

And I ain't done yet. Later in the week we're asked to create a "setting" in 45 minutes. This I DON'T plan, and get the unintended intended reaction:

By flickering candlelight the be-robed Guardian lifted the instrument to my left nostril and blew a sharp puff of tobacco and ground tree bark deep into my nasal canal. Before having a chance to recoil she blew another into the other.

The darkness that had enveloped me suddenly explodes, catapulting me into skies of pure loving sunshine. I sail across vast flowered landscapes drinking in Life wallowing in Love. Other souls are with me in the dark of the room, some are in distress. Reaching out speechlessly I am desperate to share this blazing Love.

It aches, oh it aches...

The song starts slowly, rising out of the pitch black, an embrace. A devotional song to Mother Ayahuasca and, though deep in my Love reverie, I feel a grin breaking across my face, tickling my ears. A knowing grin. Lifting my heart. Up up. Rhythm joins the exalting voice and I open my eyes wide, and slowly rise and begin swirling about the space. Others too are dancing, slowly, rapturously, others huddled deep within themselves, rocking on their haunches.

The five members present of the Chalupa Tribe solemnly gather in a circle, their voices joining in with the shaman's in a beautiful intertwining crescendo. Like they were weaving a sacred basket over our very heads. Then back down again to a call and response:

"HEALTH IN THE BODY, health in the body, PEACE IN THE SPIRIT, peace in the spirit, LOVE IN THE HEART, love in the heart."

Everyone joins in the circle and chant faster and faster it seems, and childhood memories rush back at me - those tigers on the menu at Sambo's politically-incorrect Pancake House in the 1960's, those tigers ran faster and faster til they turned into butter.

My body is stiff, I've been up all last night and tonight, and I struggle to achieve a comfortable cross-legged position. Hardly matters, the pure love bursting out of this group at this moment is blinding, to all senses.

The Chalupas begin singing traditional tribal songs, old and new. Three men and two women, all with professional yet utterly heartfelt expression in delivery and tonal quality. I've been in the music biz thirty-five years and I ain't NEVER heard nothin' like this! My entire attention shifts from the psychological issues that I was working on to what was essentially one of the best concerts of my life!

Luckily, later in my van after Ceremony, the sun out, I pulled a ceremony no-no - that's what it said online anyway - I ate a big ugly meal and smoked a fatty.

Well fuck that no-no shit AND the horse it rode in on. Mother Ayahuasca is sooo considerate - she waited until I was finished enjoying the concert and I had returned to my comfort zone and pumped MY favorite plant medicine into my lungs before making the scene and showing me a compilation of my entire life and the way the issues I was working on had affected it. Clear as a bell! Magnificent!

Excelsior!

The singing, no instrumental accompaniment now, begins to hyper-resonate, fill out beyond music itself. The most pure feeling - no - the most pure BOMBARDMENT of Love I've ever felt, hit me like a train. Blinding, I tell you. And I have revealed to you that I have not loved well in my life and now the full force of this fact is just too much for me. This love I'm being bombarded with is just too much. I begin to experience actual physical pain throughout my nervous system, this love energy is too overwhelming, too powerful, overwhelming my body and my exhausted mind and tattered emotions.

It's finally too much. I slowly crawl back to my bed roll, prop myself up and watch the burning circle of love from afar. Well, fifteen feet anyway.

I can still feel it, but now am detached, out of the loop, unconnected. I send my love out to them so they know I'm still present. We are ALL each others' medicine. I am by far the oldest person in the room.

So I'm thinking maybe it ain't so much pure undying Love that pains me, maybe it's just arthritis."

Thank you Mark Phinney! - and Brian and Kate for making the workshop possible!

We offer you a chance to get some of your own writings down with our new WorkShop in February!

When you sign up with Phanganist you recieve a 50$ discount!

Sign up here with the registration form - or if you have any inqueries regarding we are happy to assist!!

 

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