What I learned on my writing retreat

Let’s explore the art of storytelling in writing. After heading to her first writing retreat, Dia discovers the concept of Prescriptive Memoir and takes on the challenge of content creation through adopting a scene-focused approach. Dive into the conversation about starting with "One true scene" vs her old “one true sentence” approach. Listen now.

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Let’s explore the art of storytelling in writing. After heading to her first writing retreat, Dia discovers the concept of Prescriptive Memoir and takes on the challenge of content creation through adopting a scene-focused approach. Dive into the conversation about starting with "One true scene" vs her old “One true sentence” approach. 

Writing with actual craft isn’t easy and finding your voice in that craft is a slippery fish.  And while this doesn't just apply to the craft of writing, writing is a good way to tease out and forward your own voice- not once, but as a lifelong journey. And we’re up for it because …. it takes a lifetime to sound like yourself. 

Show Notes:

  • Dia explores the importance of details and resonance in storytelling, encouraging a balance between impact and specificity.
  • Learn about Prescriptive Memoir and how your life experiences can become valuable lessons for others.
  • Dive into Dia's new challenge of creating Litsticles, Lessons, and Longform blogs with a focus on scenes.
  • Understand the transformative power of starting narratives with "One true scene" instead of the traditional "one true sentence."
  • Gain insights into the lifelong journey of finding and sounding like your authentic self.

Get Dia's Book HERE- (which we hear from readers who’ve been in her audience that it sounds “just like her” so maybe she’s closer than she thinks…)

Check out all things Dia Bondi here.

Dia Bondi  00:03

I mean, there's one point we had, whatever 10 or 15 people deep in line to buy books for me, which you guys are listening are probably like, whatever. There's 15 people at my local taco joint on a regular basis, but it's a big deal for an brand new author to have more than one person at their book booth waiting patiently to buy a book from that, like, big deal.


Arthur  00:21

I've seen footage of famous authors and stuff at tables with no one no one lining up so you know, yeah, 15 people's great.


Dia Bondi  00:46

Hey, everyone, this is Lead With Who You Are. I'm Dia Bondi, and on this show, we explore and discover what it truly means to lead with who you are. And so am I. Let me just say, and so am I. On this episode, I'm going to talk with you a little bit about what I learned on my writing retreat. And what I experienced and learn on my first week of my book tour for my brand new book asked like an auctioneer, which will be in stores November 14, 2023, just a week away right now from that date, and I'm excited and nervous and all the things that you can imagine and today I have with me, baby A. Hi, baby A.


Arthur  01:21

Hey, Dia. I was gonna just jump in there and say that this episode is likely going to come out several weeks after your book comes out.


Dia Bondi  01:27

Oh, so recording it beforehand, but it'll be live. Yeah, maybe you'll see it in your local bookstore. Maybe you'll see it in your local you know, Barnes and Noble. It might even be in target. They say that it's available on target, but I wonder if it'll actually be in stores? I don't know.


Arthur  01:45

 That's cool.


Dia Bondi  01:46

I have never bought a book at Target. Have you? I have. You have? What did you buy?


Arthur  01:51

I bought ICE T's autobiography.


Dia Bondi  01:55

Did you go there specifically to buy it?


Arthur  01:56

I was just in target one night walking around, And it just was like, What weird books do they have here? And I just saw that one. I was like, I want to know about ICE T's So


Dia Bondi  02:06

did you buy it? And did you actually read it? Sitting on your ... Is it interesting?


Arthur  02:11

Yeah, it's written,  It just sounds like his voice. I mean, I'm sure he had a co author, you know.


Dia Bondi  02:17

You mean ghost writer. Yeah, that's good. Okay, so two things, Baby A.


Arthur  02:21

Tell me about your book tour.


Dia Bondi  02:22

Okay, so we're a week into the book tour. By the time folks who are listening to this. It could be yours from the book tour. But the very first week, I got to do well, we have the book launch party at kala Art Institute, which was awesome. We did our five song dance party. Thank you so much, Mr. DJ.


Arthur  02:35

Oh, yeah, no problem. That was fun.


Dia Bondi  02:37

It worked out good. I was like, so happy and so funny that I'm so I don't know, tired and old. Now. I've added to the note when we're inviting people that like, Come, we're going to do have some food. And we're going to have, you know, a little book program. And then we're going to do a five song dance party and everybody's going to be in bed by nine. Yeah. I had more than one person say you had me at imbed by nine.


Arthur  03:00



Dia Bondi  03:02

So, um, a couple days after that I got on an airplane and went to Florida, and did a keynote there for a large law camp like legal community. Bunch of lawyers and their various associates as part of their offices, and did a few in home, which were not ended up being in home. They were in venue but they were meant to be in home salons with a couple of women's groups in Florida. So for folks who are listening if you want to host one of the things that we do our host in home salons or like book conversations, where folks can have a meaningful conversation about what it means to ask for more and get it learn about the idea of ask an auctioneer and sort of debrief you know take a look back in their own lives and then look forward in in their lives to see when have they in the past made asks that had changed everything and what might they ask for now that helps accelerate them to their goals. And on we did two events in the week and then on the weekend. I was going to spend the weekend over because I had the last event on a Monday and I booked myself a really nice you know, I was going to be in Delray Beach I booked myself and Airbnb that looked very cute was fine very cute. And I had an Airbnb the earlier in the week at West Palm Beach was just up the freeway and other 25 miles from there or something and it was lovely just like this one little one bedroom studio type apartment in this like three complex with a pool and nobody was there with me and it was just this overwhelmed lush garden. It was just beautiful. So I was like, Okay, I got this like South Florida. I got this. This sounds good. So I picked another one for the weekend that I had to spend over and I booked it and literally an hour and a half later the guys that I've been chatting with next to me in my at my book booth at the at the lawyer's conference. We've been talking about all kinds of stuff that was so fun. They were really like hot on the idea of ASIC and auctioneer and just major like I gotta get you connected with a group of women in Las Vegas. So we're thinking about amplifying, you know, women in hospitality and like, they were just like, such they look like these lawyer tough guys, you know, but they were, they were such like champions for advancing and accelerating women and super enthusiastic about the idea of as like an auctioneer, and we're thinking about how they could use it themselves. It was so great. So we had really like generated conversations, just kind of shit talking with each other for the two days that I was at my booth, my book booth, and I'm slaying it like, I mean, there's one point we had, whatever 10 or 15 people deep in line to buy books from me which you guys are listening probably like, whatever. There's 15 people at my local taco joint on a regular basis. But it's a big deal for an brand new author to have more than one person at their book booth waiting patiently to buy a book from them like a big deal.


Arthur  05:46

I've seen footage of famous authors and stuff at tables with no one. No one lining up so you know, yeah, that is Yeah, right. 15 people is great.


Dia Bondi  05:57

It felt really good. And I was so I don't know, it just felt very, I was so grateful for everyone's enthusiasm and support. And it was really cool. So I'm chatty, chatty, chatty all all week with these guys are from these two days in middle the week. And he goes, Oh, were you one of the guys goes, Hey, where are you going? Next? I said, I gotta go to Del Rey is like, my office is in Delray. And I said he's where you stand. So I just booked an Airbnb. He's like, I wish I wish he told me because he has a home that is convert large old like historic home converted into a law office and in the back in what you think of as like a carriage house or whatever. There's a two Airbnbs that are, you know, his partner that was at the table was like too big to get those because they're really beautiful. Anyway, I was I was like, Hey, I just booked this other one. It's too late to cancel thank you so much, but and he was like, alright, well next time so he heads out, I head out drive three hours to get to the to the to the Airbnb, I follow the directions to get into the door, which is just the security secure, secure. circuitous, is that the right word, circuitous path around to where the quote unquote pool is, which looks like. I mean, it's full of stuff. So it looks like there's a couple of dead bodies, the bomb, the pool, nobody's around, the wind is blowing, it's dusk, I opened the door to the place and I start looking around and there's like, one fork, all of the pillows on the couch have like exploded at the seams. The the boxspring is like stained and crooked. The bedspread is got a big bite out of it. I don't know why it has a big bite out of it. But a big tear on the side, the walls, the walls have been patched but not completely. There's the the, the the wood of the stools at the little center island in the kitchen are just stained and gnarly. And there's no extra blankets. And I just that I started to look around the just the walls are beat up and the baseboards are gross. And I just went I don't think I can get in that bed.


Arthur  08:04

Oh, yeah. How I don't understand how people get away with that. Like, the photos on the website must look fine. looked fine.


Dia Bondi  08:15

And you know, I had corresponded with the with the with the owner or the host, you know, beforehand. So anyway, saying like, Oh, I wanted to get this one of the there's three units. It's like a house is broken into three little you know, it sounds like great. That's like the one the other one I stayed in earlier in the week, which was lovely, beautiful, perfect. I mean, it's an old building. So there's old building things, but it's like, super clean. Like, everything's like bright white. And it just it has like a, you know, it has a like, welcome feeling. Yeah, this place was more like, I don't know, like your grandmother's storage room. And she hasn't been around for a while. Right? And I'm like, it's like 730. And then it's like, I'm standing there going, am I guess? Like, am I seeing this right? Am I being picky? Like I totally was talking myself out of wanting to leave, you know, and then I was corresponding with the person that was owning it and, or, you know, the host. I'm like, Hey, because they put in the Airbnb listing. If there's anything beat up, please let us no so we can fix it. Well, I start taking pictures and I start taking and I'm like, I'd sent them a note. I was like, You guys this place. I know. You said please communicate things that aren't right. And I just I felt so weird. Sit calling them out on something was so gross. And they were like, thank you so much. That's exactly what we want to know. I'm gonna have an extra blanket dropship to you. It'll be there at four o'clock in the morning. I'm like, thank you that doesn't really help. But like other stuff is broken. I mean, in the stained mattress was just like, come on. Yeah, eight and then I call my family and I'm like, Am I crazy? Or am I being too picky? You know, because I'm an I'm the one that's going to muscle it right I'm as fine as friggin muscle it but I'm not a spring chicken anymore. And I just you know. So finally, I remember the guy at the booth next to me He was like, Come stay at my, so I texted him. I was like, are you awake? Right? Anyway, this guy who shall remain nameless, he was like, hey, the answer is yes. Let me get back to you in a minute. And I'm like, Okay, I had already unpacked like all my groceries and stuff. So I was like, unpacking he's like, I'll send you the text. I'll send you the location in a minute. And I was like, great. Can you tell me where the address is? And what are you going to charge me? And he was like, Here's the address. I usually charge this I'll give you this other you know, rate, which was still going to be like, I'm still gonna be being like, twice, you know, it's like booking something twice spatially for the weekend. You know, which, whenever and


Arthur  10:40

There must be some kind of clause though. If things are really bad in a place.


Dia Bondi  10:43

there is but how do they define really bad I mean, like the Airbnb coverage is like, Oh, well, you know if it says it has a kitchen and then it actually doesn't that counts is refund, you know, and I didn't want to talk to the to the host, because I felt so weird. So I just went through the Airbnb customer service, which was pretty, like they kind of they'll respond, and then they ghost you for a long time. And you don't know where the status is. It actually canceled. I don't know, look at all this consternation. I'm having over like hardly anything. I don't know. I think I was just so concerned about people feeling rejected. But I was embarrassed to be like, This place sucks. I can't stay here. Anyway. This guy texts me 15 minutes later, he's like, keys under the door lights are on, you know, let me know when you get here. So I pull into this place. And it's like this gorgeous building and I'm just dealing with like, I'll figure out what I'm gonna pay him tomorrow. I just want to get unpacked and shake off this yucky feeling of like, having to just say no to this place. Yeah. And I opened the door and baby. It's like, pristine. You know, it's just like a one bedroom cottage type extra house. And it's like pristine and beautiful and new and perfectly clean. And just like I was like, Oh my God, thank God knowing I was gonna spend bites out of the bedspread. No big chomps out of the bedspread. No stains on like, yeah, various sleeping apparatus. It was just like, so nice. And I texted him. I said, Hey, I'm here. Thank you so much beautiful. Please tell your wife, you know, and he you know that this, this was like, I'm so grateful that you were extended this to me. We'll figure out details tomorrow. And he was like, we're having dinner around the corner. I'm so glad it's comfortable for you. And my fee is $0 and one signed book for my daughter Stella, who's a sophomore in college. Oh, that's great. It's so this is like a really long story to get to like the point which is I was it was really in that moment when he said that to me. There was this you know, in the book, I talked about this idea of Zoho, you know, there's there's Zona freaking out when you ask for more than you can get Okay, or more than you think that you can get. And it was so foolish for me to reach out to him at eight o'clock at night and say, can I take you up on your offer? Like I know is inconvenient. Probably home already with your shoes off? Like, is there a way I can get into this place? And he said yes. And then over and over and above. He was like, I'm not going to charge you please just leave a signal, sign a book for my daughter on the table. I was like, it was a different kind of Zofo, of like, actually accepting somebody's generosity, and not batting it away and be like, Oh, no, no, you just tell me how much it'll cost. I couldn't possibly accept that, you know, just to, like, sure resist his generosity, which is actually not a generous thing to do. Right? You know. And he, you know, I, when I received that text, I just had to take a minute and slow down and go like dia, this is one of those moments where someone's just, it's not hurting them to exercise this generosity, like let them be a hero. Like, let them have the feeling of helping someone else. Like, actively and generously so don't try to deny their offer, just say thank you and then show up wholeheartedly in it and respectfully in it. And when I left I ended up you know, leaving him flowers and a little bag of of traits that go along with a you know, with a signed book for his daughter and I went to his law practice and said goodbye cuz it was roasting true to head Charleston chews which everybody will find out why on page 90 Charleston chews. And it was just, I don't know, it's just a recognition. And maybe everyone listening can knows that feeling of like accepting somebody else's generosity can feel sometimes just as confronting as sort of stepping into an ask that feels bigger than what you expect. So thank you so much. Tea, I'll just call him tea. And I accept your offer. Have you had no have you had moments? Maybe where somebody gave you more than like, was really generous to you and it felt weird.


Arthur  14:56

You know, I think being in a touring rock and roll band that's playing, you know, sometimes really big places with hospitality and like a place to stay, you know, like hotel or whatever. And then also playing like tiny little punk rock clubs in the south, where you're like looking for like floors to sleep on, or places to park the bus or whatever. I got very, very used to just accepting all forms of generosity. And just accepting that people were doing it because they wanted to, and just saying thank you and stuff. So like, I got really used to that over the years of touring.


Dia Bondi  15:27

That's great. That's, I mean, what a beautiful muscle to exercise. It's harder for me as somebody who's like, hyper independent, like, very, I got that, like, if I were three right now, I'd be that little girl saying, I do it myself, you know, like, like, I, that's the thing. And you know, I want to be the person who's doing the giving. And also, you know, there's some control in that, right. Like, there's, when I'm the one being the Generous One, I get to be the hero and I get to like exercise power in the relationship, I get to actually kind of control and shape things because I'm the one that has access to and is doling out the resources, right. But to be on the other side of that. It was just, it was confronting in sort of a wonderful way I had to let go a lot of like, playing a role that is, you know, a dominant role in the exchange, when like, that wasn't happening, like I just needed to let myself be enough, and accept it. Hey, just a quick reminder, you can subscribe to this show on your podcast platform of choice. We're live nearly everywhere. And you can always listen to the show at Via bondi.com. If there's a leader or innovator in your life, who is it their shiniest when they lead with who they truly are, Please share the show with them. And rate subscribe, and leave us a review makes a huge difference in the reach that the show has. When you let everyone else know what you love about the show. Thanks so much. You love audio, right? That's why you're here right now. We'll ask like an auctioneer, the audio book is available for pre order now. Or if you're listening to this episode, after November 14 2023. It's live right now, head to your favorite audiobook source and add it to your queue. You won't regret it because it has jokes in it. Kinda learn to ask like an auctioneer with me right in your headphones. Okay, baby, let's get into what I learned at my writing retreat.


Arthur  17:26

Let's do it.


Dia Bondi  17:27

So I think a few episodes ago, and if this is new for you, I shared that after writing a book I realized holy cow, I actually really love writing. And I want to pursue the continuation of my of Dia Bondi Communications around both my communications work and all of what I might produce on experiences I might create around the book asked like an auctioneer from a writer's creative lens. And so in order to accelerate that for myself, I invested in a week long writing retreat with a best selling author who's been running these retreats for many years now. And I was I think, me and only one other author were in the small group, but the only nonfiction authors, many women in the group have not yet published. Me and two others had, but many of them were operating in sort of the memoir and, and memoir and fiction space. And so we had three days of workshops with writing opportunities, and we shared and, and took feedback on a few pieces that we were working on. So there's three key territories that I, you know, really clocked some learning around, I wanted to share these with you. One is, we did a bunch of exercises around writing and then without any crosstalk reading those out loud and listening to how people perceive or experienced or what they thought of what images came to mind, what interpretations they were making about your writing. And it really, really landed with me that you cannot control your reader, you have to be I have to actually be willing to be misunderstood in writing, in the way when I'm facilitating or when I'm giving a keynote is not the experience I'm usually in because I am very often checking for understanding and then closing gaps so that the learning and the the ideas are transferring from the teaching to the learning as efficiently as possible. And that's not what happens in the writing experience. So So letting ourselves be misunderstood is a really actually powerful and freeing approach. When I want to start putting words on the page can't control your reader, I have to go for impact and specificity in the writing in the words that I choose and the way I illustrate something too. elicit a particular feeling, but not so unrelenting about making sure that the picture in my head is exactly the picture that others have in their heads because they're bringing their own experience to the table. Now, for those of you in leadership communications, who are, you know, wanting to communicate either you know, to your all company or to a particular team, you are going to be checking for understanding regularly you are having crossed talk and seeing where that alignment exists. But you also have to not forget that people are bringing their own life experience their own leadership experience, their own perceptions, their own value system to the table, and to let there be a little bit of space there for that gives you as the author of a critical communications moment, or of a manuscript, in my case, a little bit of room and breathing space for a not to be a perfectly efficient transaction. Lesson number two for me, was because I live in the world of how tos so often, you know, I do do a lot of instructional create a lot of instructional material. You know, I'm in the world of I'm in the world of teaching frameworks and ideas that help people solve a very specific problem. And, you know, in the world of writing, those can show up as how tos or listicles, you know, 10 tips about or three ideas for or two Perspective Perspective that will allow you to do X, Y, and Z, they're very much about helping people get into action. And in doing that, the writing can end up being very directive. And that has been if you look at any of my blogs, you'll see they've been very directive, direct and directive. But I learned that there's a thing called prescriptive memoir, prescriptive memoir, where I'm telling a personal story through the use of scenes, that allow my experience in a particular context that might be for you in a particular challenge that might be familiar to you can offer you a lesson that you can use and interpret in a way that is useful for you based on your what you are also bringing to the table. So having the language of prescriptive, that's the How to I'm telling you how you might do something memoir rooted in my experience, using actual scenes is a total unlock. And so right now on my brand new sort of side hustle substack, which I'm calling far fetched, I only have one post in there, I'm actively rewriting that post, which is not prescriptive memoir, it's literally like, you know, five steps to it is it is just prescriptive, prescriptive, I'm rewriting that using a more memoir, approach to see how that might have a different impact. And to explore my voice. When I get to use the when I get to use a more memoir ish, I experience as a jumping off place. Okay, so my new challenge to myself going forward is to take listicles lessons and long form blogs that I take to teach people things, but do them through scene work. When I started writing, years ago, doing something called the other side of travel, which is sort of like a travel blog for when I was traveling a whole bunch before I had kids, I was on the road all the time, I always recognized a blog that I wanted to write when something hit me I like to call one true sentence, which is the first sentence in the big idea. I know I can write 1500 words around. It's the jumping off place for everything. And so now instead of using one true sentence, what I'm scanning my own memory for what I'm scanning my own life for is one true scene, a picture that I can use from my own experience as the jumping off place for talking about my experience, such that you can get something instructive about it. And it's a mind shift in a real way. It's like operating from a photograph instead of operating from a single line of text. So, if you are interested in seeing how this super duper clunky, evolution will go from dia being so only prescriptive, to being prescriptive from a more memoirist kind of approach. You can watch me stumble through this over at farfetched on substack right now, I'll be posting I don't know when you're listening to this but while I'm recording, I'll be posting my very second post there. And you know, all of this is in pursuit of this notion. So you know, I use this quote a lot. Arthur and I baby and I have talked about this before that it takes a lifetime to sound like yourself. This is something that you know, quote from Miles Davis, and all this pursuit my creative work is is a lot about how, how I can more sound like myself.  Okay, everybody, thanks for listening to this solo ish episode with me and Baby A.


Arthur  25:12

Hey, hey.


Dia Bondi  25:12

yep. And so I guess my prescriptive, I did a little prescriptive memoir today, I told you a story and I guess the prescription is when somebody is going to offer you a radical act of generosity to just accept it. And yes, and engaging in a creative pursuit is a good way for us to sound and practice and learn how we sound individually so we can lead with who we are.  

Lead with who you are is a production of Dia Bondi Communications and is scored, mixed and produced by Arthur Leon Adams the third. Have a question or an inquiry? Reach out to us at hello@diabondi.com. You can like share, rate and subscribe at Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your favorite shows. Go to diabondi.com for the show notes to find our tools, frameworks, content and programs to help you and your team speak powerfully and lead with who you are.

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