Step 9: “Resisting plot is a political act”

When Lidia Yuknavitch spoke these words at her workshop last May, I scribbled them in my notebook and something broke loose. My entire life has resisted plot, and seeing my writing life in this context was more than pivotal – it’s become a daily mantra. (If you’re nodding your head, you know.) Art as an act of political resistance is the theme of Step 9, but first, a quick announcement:

melidleighIn November, I’ll be joining Lidia Yuknavitch as an online workshop leader for Epistemologies: Writing to Unmake and Remake Meaning. Over the past year, I’ve been a columnist and the curator of Corporeal Clamor, a curated series at Corporeal Writing. Part of the CW philosophy is “leading people into new and unknown territories from which they can make art,” and because I so love collaborating with other writers, this new role at Corporeal Writing sets my heart on fire.

Class begins November 4.

Over the past two years, the writers I’ve met through Corporeal Writing are part of a revolution. They’re publishing pieces like this one by my friend Marissa in Harper’s Bazaar, and last week, NPR featured artist Laura Gibson’s song “Domestication.” Laura was working on lyrics to the song when she took the “Exhausting Metaphor” workshop at Corporeal Writing a year ago. As an added bonus, Anya Pearson, who she met at the workshop, plays a character in the video.

This is what Lidia means when she calls Corporeal Writing “a creative process that values participant collaboration.” If this idea sets a fire inside of you and you’ve got something to say, come write with us.


Step 9: Leaflets, Pamphlets, and Books

Step 9 in the “blueprint” From Dictatorship to Democracy emphasizes the critical role of artists and intellectuals in making political and social change. Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Book of Joan was released just after T– entered the White House, and the post-apocalyptic nature of the work struck a chord with the public.

From the New York Times Book Review:

“Telling the truth with precision and rage and a visionary’s eye, using both realism and fabulism, is one way to break through the white noise of a consumerist culture that tries to commodify post-apocalyptic fiction, to render it safe.” – Jeff VanderMeer, A Brilliant, Incendiary Joan of Arc Story for a Ravaged Earth, The New York Times

Throughout history, times of political turmoil have been influenced by works of art. My project 3.5% was inspired by a pamphlet by Gene Sharp that has been passed around the globe since its release in 1993. Others on the list of transgressive game-changers:

The Republic – Plato

Liberty Leading the People – Eugène Delacroix

A Room of One’s Own – Virginia Wolfe

The Jungle – Upton Sinclair

1984 – George Orwell

Beloved – Toni Morrison

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

When Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe

50 books that changed the world.

15 Banned Books

What’s on your list?

Share it in the comments.

“Over Everything” (Short Fiction)

My most recent piece, “Over Everything,” is up at Corporeal Writing. Read the full essay here.

Coming on Monday: If you’re a writer and you’ve been looking for feedback and community, join me online for “Transformative Storytelling” at Viva Institute. Class begins July 17.

“I’d studied with Leigh before and found her as kind and compassionate as she is industrious, witty, and gifted at bringing out the best in everyone around her. Interesting, thoughtfully-planned lessons led to assignments that hardly felt like work at all. As I participated, it was fascinating to discover not only that my story had a way of telling itself and I was just its ‘keeper,’ but that my voice seemed to simply be awaiting my call for it to venture out. I was truly surprised at just how uplifted and inspired I felt receiving the positive, helpful comments and feedback – and respond with a very heartfelt thank you.” – Kelly, Minnesota

Excerpt: “Over Everything”

She rolls over. Summery skin soft and dark against the curved line of shirt sliding beneath sheets. Before morning pulls me under lushdelicious, I push my mouth against her shoulder, wrap an arm and drape a leg.

“Morning,” she mumbles. Her skin shimmers warm in the morning light.

“You glow,” I sigh, and go under.

When I open my eyes who knows how long later, the dog has weaseled his way onto the bed, curled between us. At the low rumble of thunder, he gives a convulsive quiver and tucks his nose beneath his back leg. I scratch his ears and Kabob untucks and gives me a grateful look. Before he tucks back in, I notice a bright smudge, glowing on the bridge of his nose. I rub my eyes and lean forward, spreading the thin fur on his snout with my fingers, like I’m looking for ticks. Where the fur separates, the glow follows. [Read more]



Test Tank, Corporeal Writing.

You say, write something hopeful, Corporeal Writing.

Make a Little Birdhouse in Your Soul, Corporeal Writing.

You Can Do Anything, Corporeal Writing.

The Right to Bare Arms, ENTROPY Magazine.

Still Gonna Do (#ShePersisted), The Manifest-Station.

Upcoming Classes

Online Writing Workshop: The Illuminated Narrator – begins July 17



PO Box 27771

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Postage from Anne

Anne, yesterday I saw my first robin, so imagine the happy discovery of your card! You sent it long ago, and I received it just in time for spring. Thank you for sending it. My only excuse is that I’ve been writing, writing, writing. If it’s possible to read too much, I’ve been doing that, too. Letters get slipped inside books and between manuscript drafts, the happiest places I know. If you’re reading this, leave me a comment and tell me what you’ve been up to, and please – come back and visit us at Viva anytime. It’s full of feathers over here.

New here? Are you wondering, “What’s Postage?” Write to me here.

There are just 2 spots left in my Online Writing Workshop here.

Online Storytelling Workshop – class begins tomorrow

Instructor: Leigh Hopkins
$125 for 3 weeks
Begins March 20

If you’re a blogger, memoirist, or storyteller and you love community, join us. Using a simple new online platform, you’ll blend creative writing and storytelling with the mystic traditions of other cultures. Join us for this supportive and dynamic online workshop, including:
  • weekly writing prompts
  • guided journeys and meditations
  • videos and TEDTalks
  • weekly “critiques” (feedback from instructor and peers)
  • an open discussion forum
  • private community
  • suggested websites and magazines for submitting your work
“Sometimes telling the story is the thing that saves your life.” – Lidia Yuknavitch, author

About the Instructor

Leigh Hopkins is a writer, educator, and seminar leader. In 2010, she left a career in social policy and education reform to move to Brazil, where she launched Viva Institute by rigging a satellite dish to a boulder in a banana field. An avid blogger, essayist and poet, you can find Leigh’s work in Elephant Journal, ENTROPY Magazine, Manifest-Station, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Today, Leigh lives and writes in Philadelphia, where she is completing a novel.


Postage from Alaskat / A Card for Humanity


I received this postcard from AlasKat almost a year ago, and I loved it so much I used it as a bookmark. A few weeks ago, it reappeared in a stack of my many books, along with more postcards and letters from blog readers. Thank you – I’ll be posting those soon!

To AlasKat in Arizona – a garden of gratitude for the timelessness of this message.


Ask Yourself:

“Is this in the best interest of Community?”

If we feel we don’t have the energy to do it – we don’t.

If we begin & trust & ask … Help will arrive.

And who knows what unexpected beauty & dreams they will bring?

Inexhaustible resources & energy wellsprings exist, when intent is grounded in LOVE.


Tend the Garden.

Starting soon…

Online Writing Workshop: Transformative Storytelling

Would you like to make a comment?

Every woman I’ve met carries a story inside her. Stories about loss and love, of adventure in far-flung places or the longing to create new ones, of the ache to return home or to make a new one. Stories of shame and rage and desire – the kinds of stories that climb the walls just to make themselves heard.

Stories that carry whole worlds.

I carry them, too.

I’m a woman who has to sit on her hands to keep the stories in, because that’s where I carry them. In my hands.

Sometimes our words don’t know the stories they’ll tell until our hands let them speak.

Put them on the page. Speak them or sing them just to find a place of truth outside yourself. Loose them to the wind.

Sometimes the very brave act of telling gives a thing new meaning.

Make a new story.

Words welcome change.

Writing Workshop: Transformative Storytelling – begins March 20, 2017.

Would you like to make a comment? Write to me or make your mark below.