Miss Pamela’s Writing Workshop

I got to write with a rock-n-roll legend!

Pamela Des Barres is a force of nature, so it only makes sense that her arrival to Tulsa would inevitably result in emergency-level foul weather.

I have been wanting to take a writing workshop with Miss Pamela (as she’s known) for years, so when I finally lived in a city she was visiting and found out that she had a workshop coming up, I absolutely could not pass it up.

Except that first time was scheduled in May of 2019. If you’re a Tulsan, you know that as the month we were inundated by near-constant flooding and tornado watches for weeks (oh, and a couple of earthquakes, too). When I say flooding, I mean catastrophic flooding. That month was spent in a true state of emergency, with the army corps of engineers facing the horrible decision of releasing the nearby dam at higher and higher rates knowing that it would devastate our city, but having no choice otherwise.

So on the night of Pamela’s first workshop in Tulsa, I was huddled in my bathroom with my husband and cats, listening for the tornado sirens and sending her regretful emails that I wouldn’t be able to make it after all. I wanted to attend her class more than almost anything, but I wasn’t willing to put myself in mortal danger for it.

Miss Pamela and me!

Fast forward to a couple of months ago: I got an email from Miss Pamela herself letting me know that she was coming back, and my second chance was official!

(Of course, it almost didn’t happen again due to flash flooding and snow, but I made it all right.)

If you’re unfamiliar with Pamela Des Barres, let me give you a bit of background: she’s no ordinary writer, for more than one reason. First of all, she’s an extraordinary writer, but on top of that, she’s also a legendary groupie.

Being a 60s and 70s freak, it was inevitable that I would eventually discover her book I’m With The Band, and once I did, I fell in love. This book is a memoir of Miss Pamela’s absolutely fantastical life filled with dozens of the rock artists I idolize: Jim Morrison, Gram Parsons, Jimmy Page, Frank Zappa, Mick Jagger, on and on and on. If I’ve got their record, there’s a good chance that Miss P hung out with them, dated them, or slept with them.

It would be easy to pass off I’m With The Band as a salacious groupie tell-all, but I will die on the hill of insisting that it is SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT. What Pamela captures so eloquently and heartwrenchingly in her book is the sublime, tortured feeling of being a fan, especially as a young girl. I went through my own preteen and teen years kissing my John Lennon poster goodnight and almost hurting with the force of my yearning, and until I read I’m With The Band, nobody had ever put it into the right words before. It was exactly my experience, just a few decades before I went through it. (Of course, Pamela then moved on to actually being friends and lovers with the rock stars she adored, but I digress!)

I knew that the writing workshop would be fun – how could it not be with Miss P at the helm? – but I was still floored by what a beautiful good time it was. Twelve women were gathered in the host’s living room, drinking wine, eating snacks, and following the writing prompts that we were given. Miss Pamela creates a totally safe space for self-expression. There’s no self-editing, no qualifying, and no criticism; we get a few minutes to pour our words onto the page as unfiltered as possible, and then we go around the room and read our pieces aloud. We all laugh and cry with each other, discuss what we’ve written, and best of all, build each other up.

Miss Pamela always drives home that the most important thing in writing is to get your ego out of the way, and that is completely aligned with my own theory of writing. I’m one of those woo-woo writers like Elizabeth Gilbert or Stephen King who elevate the act of writing to a spiritual experience, a practice of channeling from the ether, and the only method to my madness is to let the muse grab hold and come through me. By repeatedly writing in a short period of time, then reading it out loud, then doing it again and again each evening of the workshop, we’re given the opportunity to develop the ability to get over ourselves and let it flow, first onto the page and then out into the circle of attendees.

Miss Pamela’s Tulsa Dolls!

The other exceptional thing about Miss P’s workshops is the kind of people she attracts to her classes. I mean, think about it; this woman has inspired generations of groupies and music lovin’-ladies with her style, sweetness, smarts, and sass. There’s not a more open-hearted, independent, supportive, rockin’ group of women you’ll ever meet than the ones who aspire to be one of Miss Pamela’s “dolls.” (That’s what we call ourselves once we’ve been to one of the workshops. I am proudly one of Miss P’s dolls now!)

If you’re looking for a low-pressure, super supportive, and highly fun & giggly girl power-infused writing experience, please check out one of Miss Pamela’s writing workshops near you! You will absolutely love it!

You can find I’m With The Band here.

You can find Pamela Des Barres’ other books here.

You can find Miss Pamela’s writing workshop schedule here.

By Eliza Gillie

Writer. Not that kinda Virgo. Living in the 70s. Cats, rock n roll, aliens, and a lot of talk about The Office.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s