Writers' Haven by Christine Wolf
The Writers' Haven Podcast
Podcast Ep. 1: Welcome to Imperfection

Podcast Ep. 1: Welcome to Imperfection

Introducing "The Writers' Haven Podcast" by Christine Wolf on Substack

Hi there, and WELCOME to The Writers’ Haven Podcast. I’m Christine Wolf.

It’s January 31st, 2022, and this is my very first podcast episode on Substack. Whether you’re a writer, a subscriber, or just curious about what this is, I’m really glad you’re here.

And, as you can hear, so far, this podcast is little more than skin and bones. In time, that’ll change, and as I’ve learned through writing — be it blogging, personal essays, magazine articles, newspaper columns, or books — we all start with absolutely nothing except the thoughts in our heads and the initial words to describe them.

Therefore, I’m launching this podcast with nothing more than my thoughts and my words. For now, there’s no music. There’s no proprietary intro or outtro. There’s no script. There’s no podcast guest (although I can’t wait for you to hear who we have lined up, including new and established authors and publishing industry professionals). And, though you’re not hearing anything but my voice in this first episode, what I AM offering to you, by way of example, I hope, are the following three things:

• 1. The COURAGE to start something absolutely from scratch.
• 2. The INSPIRATION to step out of your comfort zone.
• 3. My HOPE that you, too, will consider sharing yourself as a creative human being, even if things aren’t perfect, even if your ducks aren’t all in a row, and even if you feel like you don’t know what the hell you’re doing.

Think about this. NONE of us has a script for living life. NONE of our lives are perfect. NONE of us has all of our ducks in a row. And, especially as writers, if we allow ourselves some grace as we consider stepping into unfamiliar spaces, it’s absolutely remarkable what can happen. What happens is, we BEGIN.

And sure… We may falter. We will likely revise. We may even delete things entirely. But we may also surprise ourselves. We may build endurance. We may discover sides to ourselves we didn’t know existed. We may even unearth hidden gems that would have remained in the dark had we not tried.

And so, for this first episode of Writers’ Haven the Podcast, I invite you to consider taking one step today out of your comfort zone, and creating something completely from scratch. Is there a piece you’ve considered writing? Is there a project you’ve put away and want to dust off? Is there a publication you’ve dreamed of writing for, but don’t know where to begin? Do you have endless thoughts and insecurity swirling in your head about what you “might” write, but you don’t have a gameplan or the confidence to move forward? If so, I and many others, completely understand.

Let me point to this podcast as a perfect example of how to do what you think you can’t.

I’ve wanted to podcast for a long time now, and I even tried my hand at one a few years ago, and recorded 5 episodes, all of which were poorly produced (by ME). They were really pretty awful. If you want a good laugh, Google The Christine Wolf Podcast and I’m sure you can find some of the episodes. My intentions were all there, but my skill level and experience with podcasting just absolutely sucked. It still does…but I’m trying.

And I’m here again, starting fresh, with a stronger focus on who my ideal audience is and what I’d like to talk about.

What I want to do with this podcast is build a community of writers of all levels of experience to gather, listen, share, commiserate, and ultimately lift each other up.

I want to understand how the best writers approach their work, and how they struggle.

I want to hear the questions new writers have, and reassure them that this journey is completely worth it.

I want to create a safe and welcoming space for writers everwhere, examining our real lives and sharing them through essays, interviews, tips, and always with raw vulnerability.

And so, the best way I can think to kick off this first episode, is to read an essay I first wrote in October of 2016. I was inspired to write it during the #metoo movement, and it garnered some unexpected awards and a great deal of press. And, I wrote it, much like I wrote the words you’re hearing now, in about 30 minutes — completely from the heart and with very little self-editing or overthinking (and frankly if you’re a writer of any level of experience, you KNOW there’s nothing like getting into a flow of that kind).

So, here’s the essay that I wrote.

The Groping And The Boy Across The Hall

(Originally published on ChicagoNow, October 12, 2016)

The year was 1986. I was 18 years old, a senior in high school, on spring break with 10 of my friends.

It happened sometime between 5 and 9 pm.

Our Fort Lauderdale hotel was cheap, filled with other spring breakers just like us, room after room of young, hormonal bodies. We’d pooled our hard-earned money for a travel agent to book this place, situated between the ocean and the strip. The place was disgusting and we were in heaven.

To our group’s additional delight, there was a slightly older, very cute male cohort staying in 3 rooms directly across the hall. Whenever they were around, which wasn’t much, they were flattering and flirty.

On the evening it happened, the girls and I were killing time, moving in and out of our three rooms between makeup applications, TV shows and easy conversations. We spoke of the last couple of months remaining before high school graduation. About the colleges we’d gotten into. About our boyfriends back home. About the way things were absolutely, already changing.

At some point, the boys across the hall came back from wherever they’d been. They were raucous, engaged, and interested in everything we were up to.

Soon, timidity eased and interactions gave way, just as it is in the wild, I suppose — except this was in a carpeted hallway, windowless and dank.

Laughter was truly the gateway to it all. It’s what really led to what happened. I can see that clearly now. If you get us girls laughing…especially nervously… you’ve really got us.

Crude jokes, self-deprecation, teasing one another…those boys did it all well, and we girls signaled our interest in the only acceptable ways we knew — by laughing and giggling.

As the guys’ teasing and ribbing escalated, so did our attention. Soon, we were a blissful group of 20, spilling in and out of that narrow hallway.

I’ve never remembered what prompted several of the guys to break rank and head into one of the rooms, or why I joined them, or if any of my friends followed me. I just remember laughing hard and watching them tumble and act like idiots, not wanting to miss what they’d say or do next. And with all the doors propped open, it never felt like I’d left my group.

It was intoxicating.

Stepping over the threshold into their room, I could still see the crowd gathered in the hall.

No great shakes. I never thought twice about turning my back to the door.

But then, I wasn’t laughing.

I was on my back.

Looking up at a ceiling.

Looking up at four boys looking down at me, though not into my eyes.

“You,” one said, pointing to another.

“No, you,” said the other.

Where are my friends? What’s happening?

“Quiet,” one said.

“Stop,” I pleaded, yanking my hands.

Those grips.

But we were just laughing, I thought, still yanking from the wrists now. Why aren’t we still laughing?

“Just go!” one said, lifting my shirt.

“You chickenshit,” another laughed, like I wasn’t there.

“Please!” I said, squirming.

“Shut the door!” one yelled.

“It already is,” another chuckled.

“PLEASE!” I yelled.

And then, I looked into his eyes.

The one.

And he looked back.

“Please, don’t,” I said. I’m certain I was crying.

“Just GO!” one guy grunted, groping me as he pulled my ankles apart.

“Just don’t,” I said slowly, holding my breath, not breaking my stare.

“Come ON!” another voice urged.

“I want to go back to my friends,” I said directly to him.

“Man!” one guy yelled in frustration, “You seriously just gotta — “

“Just STOP!” the one said, standing up.

He elbowed the guy kneeling near my face, and pulled me up by my shoulders.

Then he put his hand on my back and opened the door to the hallway.

He pushed me out of the room and closed the door behind me.

The hallway was empty.

I’ve never spoken of this incident to anyone.

Not to my friends on that trip.

Not to my boyfriend.

Not to my parents.

No one.

I was ashamed.

I was embarrassed.

I thought I’d gotten myself into that situation because I’d separated myself from my pack.

I thought I’d invited their advances because of something I’d said or done or signaled or…if only I could just remember what I’d been saying before it all happened. But I couldn’t remember.

And I’ve never remembered what he looked like.

But I’ve never forgotten what it feels like to be heard.

To use my voice. To say exactly what I need.

To stare someone down. To not take no for an answer.

I found my voice that day, though I hadn’t realized it then.

And here’s to that boy across the hall, and to all who teach boys to act as he did.


Okay. So now that I’ve shared MY personal essay, I hope you’ll consider sharing one of YOURS with our listeners. Since this podcast is so new and still evolving, we’re eager to hear what you have to say. Chances are, it’ll resonate with someone, be it another writer or a listener. And so, your essay can be about absolutely anything, up to 1000 words MAX. Send it to my contact page at christinewolf.com. I hope to share some of the submissions I receive on a future podcast.

THANK YOU for tucking into this first, barebones, imperfect episode of The Writers’ Haven Podcast. I’m glad I took the leap and dove right in, and I’m even more grateful you’re here. For now, go out there and write authentically and imperfectly, and know that you’re in good company.

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Writers' Haven by Christine Wolf
The Writers' Haven Podcast
An examination of writers' real lives, shared through essays, interviews, tips, & raw vulnerability. Author and writing coach Christine Wolf hosts semi-regular episodes exploring writers' journeys.
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