Today, I am honored to share with you someone I admire greatly, Dave Ursillo. Dave is going to chat with us about life as a writer, his latest project—The Literati, and some fun facts about himself. When thinking about how to introduce Dave, I kept returning to a simple reminder for myself: do not simplify, do not create a box for the sake of a neat and tidy post.
Dave is different (in a good way!) than a lot of bloggers I’ve had the pleasure of “meeting.” We’ve known each other online for awhile and through this time I’ve watched Dave truly evolve. He has become a compassionate and genuine leader—meaning he is wholeheartedly involved in the community online, communicating with vulnerability and presence; yet, at the same time, his message of leadership is woven throughout his work, through words he is able to powerfully connect with others—to gently turn on a light within you that sparks a ripple effect. His blog posts are mini theses. His dedication and love for the community that has gathered around him are etched in his actions. And so a bio will not suffice. I urge you to read his beautifully candid words below and then spend some time within the pages of his blog (you may want to start here).
1. In 140 characters or less (twitter style), what is The Literati?
The Literati is a digital writers’ group that empowers its members to create new freedom in their lives through their writing.
2. What prompted you to begin the Literati?
The Literati was born in response to a dangerous false-perception that afflicts so many writers and creatives. I call it “The Tortured Artist Routine.” The tortured artist routine is the stereotype that claims the creative journey is one of struggle, hardship, “writer’s block,” and being misunderstood. It’s the one that makes a writer think her journey has to be lonely, confusing and even painful. The tortured artist routine reinforces negative personal habits and detrimental thinking that leads to perpetual self-sabotage.
I thought, why don’t more writers treat the creative journey as one of deep experience, artistry, and fun? Why is it such a ridiculous idea that the creative journey can’t be treated as a reward, in itself? I knew that I wasn’t alone in that thinking, so I decided to formulate the Literati as a digital writers’ group that would bring like-minded writers together and help them “live and love the creative journey” while shattering that old, outdated and negative misconception.
3. How did you come up with the name (which I love!)?
I wrote a poem in my book God Whispers on the Wind last summer in which I referred to beautiful writers of old like Rumi, Thoreau and Emerson as “Those Loving Literati.” One month after I published that book, I was creating my writers’ group. That term “Loving Literati” was still on my mind. I don’t know where I first heard the term, but I realized that it could become the perfect name for what I wanted to create: a writers’ group for writers who love the journey, value artistry and want to really enjoy the creative experience.
4. I know there are a lot of people, especially people who write, who are scared of the term, “writer.” How do you keep the group from feeling intimidating for people who aren’t yet comfortable calling themselves “writers?” [This would include me.] Are most of the people in the group seasoned writers or is there a mix of people who may just be starting out on the writing journey in addition to those who may be a bit further along?
Never be afraid of what you have to say.
That’s what I tell a writer who feels uncomfortable or afraid of the term writer. We are, in essence, all writers in this life: we’re constantly writing the stories of our lives; we’re creating possibility and visions of our futures in our dreams. I don’t care how anyone else defines it: a writer is somebody who writes, and no writer should place an asterisk or disclaimer by that title.
I believe that writers are artists and creatives, regardless of whether you’re a hobbyist, maintain a journal or diary, or write epic novel trilogies. That’s the great part of the Literati: our writers vary from part-time poets to web designers, photographers with a writing passion or full-time freelance writers. What unites us is the belief that writing is a form of artistry; that the creative journey is the reward; and that our artistic experiences honor our wants for purpose, fulfillment and freedom in our lives.
5. How will being a part of the Literati group help people beyond the group setting with practical items (ex. tips for getting freelance writing gigs, publishing a book, starting a blog)?
I personally help every writer in our group with their practical needs and goals, such as finding gigs, publishing a book and starting a blog.
The Literati will teach you exactly what you need to learn because our curriculum is catered to your personal wants and needs. As a big proponent of self-discovery and personal leadership, I use the unique method of helping you discover what your writing goals are—and what the tactics ought to look like—through guiding you through an exploration of your life, personal goals and your dreams. Because there are so many different ways to achieve goals, a personal exploration will help you understand what “How To” aspects are right for you.
6. What types of writers are in the group or have been in the group?
Most Literati writers already have “self-starter” tendencies: they have a blog or two, they’ve done some freelancing before, or they have small businesses already. They join the Literati to recommit to their love of writing as they get deeper into their writing careers or because they want to take their “passion” more seriously.
Many of our writers are bloggers, self-employed copywriters, freelance writers, novelists (including several NaNoWriMo winners), even writer-photographers and writer-web designers. The great part is that no matter where you are on this scale, you’re never being judged or compared against fellow writers—what unites you is a love of writing, learning, sharing and growing.
So all you need to have is an interest in honing your focus and direction, and upping your game to create even higher quality, higher level work, whether books, projects or services. Our writers stick around because they love the community that supports them throughout their many ventures and exploration of new ideas.
7. What do you think is the most important thing people take away from being in the Literati group? [one thing!]
A FEW FUN FACTS
… 5 Things Most People Don’t Know About You (and you would be okay keeping that way!)
1.) I grew up never liking literature, English class or poetry. I treated reading like it was pulling teeth. I remember distinctively scoffing (out loud) when I heard one my high school teachers describe transcendentalism and the stories of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Since then? I made Walden Pond into a day-retreat to read, hike and meditate away from the Boston city commotion; I published a book of my own free-form poetry in 2012; and I teach writing, artistry and creativity for a living.
2.) Becoming depressed was one of the best things to have ever happened to me. I was 23-years-old. Falling depressed and feeling “out of answers” made a difficult decision seem easy, like it was the only choice I had to make: to quit my job, abandon my young career path, forget everything that I had planned and begin all over again. I started writing to explore myself, understand who I was and make sense of my place in the world around me. Depression helped me get from a place where I knew I couldn’t remain to a place of chance, possibility and hope — one that would eventually lead me to flourish.
3.) I once paid $650 for a bottle of vodka in Las Vegas when I was younger. I’m still trying to make up for that deep a level of “douchery” and hope the $1,000 I helped raise for charity last October (by wearing a school dress in public) starts to make up for it.
4.) I moved to Washington D.C. to be a White House intern in 2008 and I quietly dreamed of becoming a Presidential speechwriter one day. Rhetoric is a natural passion of mine as a writer. I think that today, by contrast, I certainly now prefer writing for myself than I ever would writing words for someone else—even a President.
5.) I always sleep next to a book, notepad and pen. I make sure to keep a book near from a divine writer like Gibran, Thoreau, or Rumi whose words are truly worthy of sharing that sacred dreaming space. I also have a habit of writing a poem, essay, note or short prayer right before sleep. What’s great is that I often forget what I write (since the brain is already powering down), so it’s pretty interesting to look back on them the next morning or even months later.
… Favorite writer (ONE!)
These days, it’s Rumi, the great 13th century Sufi poet and writer.
… Favorite writing resources…
I’d be a shameful entrepreneur if I didn’t give my digital writers’ group, the Literati, a shout-out! Other than that, I believe our best writing resources come from organic, authentic experiences like writing more, reading lots of different modern day and historical writers, as well as simply living out in the world. The best writers have experienced profound depths of life itself, spanning stories, hardships, successes and ordinary faces in the street. Live more, and watch the writing follow…
–> JOIN THE LITERATI
The Literati has officially relaunched and is accepting new members for the first time in over five months. You can join throughout the month of January!! Learn More and Join. [This is an affiliate link which means if you decide to join the writing group, I will be given a small referral fee. I like to keep things transparent :).]