This was the challenge facing Milli Thornton when a student from a Denver workshop declared that he wished to come to a summer workshop in Taos.
“Michael O’Hara was not just any writing student,” Milli said. “He’d given up writing ten years ago because he couldn’t bear the angst that went with it.”
By chance, on the shuttle on his way to work one morning, Michael picked up a copy of WestWord and leafed to a tiny notice buried in the events calendar announcing the Fear of Writing Clinic.
Captivated by the name of the workshop but with no way to travel by car to the Arvada Center, Michael rode his bike from downtown Denver—an hour’s ride at least.
Thornton said, “When he arrived, Michael blurted with a huge grin, ‘This entire day is an adventure for me!’ He enjoyed the workshop, which was held in May, and later wrote me a letter saying, ‘I want to come to Taos for a summer workshop.’ Since Michael had already attended the Fear of Writing Clinic, the onus was on me to come up with something new. I also couldn’t ask someone traveling from Denver to come all that way for a one-day workshop, so I set about designing a two-dayer with all new, fresh material.”
Thornton had a vision of writers gathered in a setting replete with Taos atmosphere; experiencing sensory wonders and then writing about it from personal experience. Employing surprise visitations and writing exercises designed to release her workshop participants into realms of fun, adventure, and imagination, the Tantrick Writing Clinic was born. Writing exercises with tantalizing titles such as “Snail Mail from Africa,” “Circus Faustus,” “Swear Like an Aussie,” and “She Becomes a Goddess” are brought to life with secret sensory aids.
“Those are my surprises,” Thornton says. “I don’t give away those secrets before the workshop.”
So why Tantrick with a k?
Thornton grins. “At first I was looking for a name that would catch people’s eye on a flyer. It’s hard work standing out on a bulletin board with hundreds of other flyers. I was gambling that people would open the cover of my tri-fold flyer out of curiosity—to find out why I spelled it with a k. But the workshop itself has grown to suit that name so much it’s uncanny. People usually associate Tantric with either yoga or sex. This workshop is neither of those, but it does embrace that energy of life and creativity suggested by the word Tantric. Add a ‘k’ and you get the element of fun and cheekiness that my workshops embrace too.”
And the verdict from Michael O’Hara? This quote comes from an emotional piece written by Michael after one of the surprise visitations:
and they must return to the unadorned spaces
where they worked and tried to play?