Meet Drew Lamm, the Rowayton-based author and Mom behind Taste Life Twice Writing. What started as a word-of-mouth writing group 20 years ago, quickly turned into a haven for locals who want to “taste life twice” through writing. Find out what inspired Drew to start her business and discover some of her favorite local haunts.
How many children do you have and what are their ages?
One daughter, age 27. Gasp! Also a writer.
What brought you to Rowayton and how long have you lived there?
I found a wee affordable cottage way back when, before Rowayton was discovered. I love wee villages and being near water. That first weekend, after experiencing the Memorial Day parade here, I was smitten and realized we’d chosen well. I think, whoa, I’ve been here for twenty-nine years.
Describe what you love about the town…
I love that it’s a village on a river and the sea. I love being able to walk everywhere—to Pinkney Park, art centre, post office, hardware store, marsh, beach, Hart property, library, Potting Shed, Farmer’s Market, Shakespeare on the Sound, restaurants… I love the small community and how I may move about easily from nature to ice-cream cones.
What led you to start Taste Life Twice Writing and what inspired the name?
When I became a classroom teacher I turned my English classes into writing and reading workshops, realizing how effective they were over a more traditional way to teach. I was a maverick who got great results so though my school frowned at my lively classroom, they couldn’t find fault with the results. Then The Writing Project at Teacher’s College, Columbia U took note. They hired me to train teachers in the Tri-State area, as well as speaking at conferences all over the States and Canada (where I’m originally from). Working in schools and universities was like trying to give heart transplants. Teaching well isn’t about information, but in how you perceive students while creating life and verve in the room. I found my work exhilarating but also exhausting. I learned an enormous amount about what works in writing and teaching writing.
I came to create my Taste Life Twice writing sessions/workshops/quiet parties… when I was asked to speak at a conference in Madison, CT. After my talk, a group of women who lived near me, asked if I’d run a writing group with them. I agreed. Then I was asked to lead a writing group over at an art centre in Mt. Kisco. That was two. The one here in Rowayton grew, via word of mouth, until I now have five groups of 7- 9 women a week, usually in my home/now Zoom doing what I love. This is about my twentieth year running these lovely sessions.
I first called them Women’s Writing Workshops until I came upon the phrase, “We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect” by Anaïs Nin and it clicked. The magic of writing is that often in living our lives we don’t get the juice out of the moments. Meaning and delicious bits get past us. Even during horrid times there’s beauty, poetry, that we easily miss unless we write. And I mean the kind of writing where you sink in and the meaning feels like it just appears on the page, there’s no efforting it into existence. I help others do this. Writing is how we sing as humans. It’s not something you learn to do in an academic sense. Often when you do learn it in school, the joy and naturalness of it is squashed out of us. Many are afraid to write because of school, I’m sorry to say. I mend this and usher in the magic.
When you’re able to come to a page without being critiqued in any way but what works, what sings, then you begin sinking in and relishing what writing is. I call my business Taste Life Twice, because you do! You get a double dip of life. Writing enhances and saves us bumbling humans. Some clients have been coming regularly for seventeen years, some for ten…with no plans to stop. They say it keeps them sane and interested in their lives.
Do you have to be a writer to take part in your TLT?
NO! NO! NOOOOOOOOO! “Being a writer” can work against you if you’re trying to BE a writer or SOUND like a writer. No! This is natural, like a bird singing. Seriously. This is different than any other workshop and you can swoop right in without having written a peep and land on your feet, be thrilled to be here. Many say it feels like coming home.
Where can people learn more about your writing sessions?
They can follow me on Instagram (@tastelifetwicewriting), Facebook (Taste Life Twice Writing) or visit my website (https://www.tltwriting.com). I’m holding a 6 week TLT session this summer if anyone would like to dip in/take a taste for any or all of this. They can write me at email@example.com for more details.
Do you ever work with children or teenagers?
Yes, I also help kids slip back into themselves—who they are, what they love, releasing stress, as well as helping with college essays. And I lead writing groups with high risk young adults at Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan. A favourite quote from a kid who came in refusing to write and left holding his notebook against his chest is: “I didn’t know writing was THIS! I’m never going to not write again.”
How has the pandemic changed the way you conduct classes?
I’ve shifted everyone to Zoom. Whereas we just had a few Zoomers from around the country in each session, now everyone Zooms in. Other than this, it hasn’t changed. Well, I no longer brew tea, fill up the teacart with chocolates or hug everyone as they come and go, but I still create the essence. There are still flowers on the mantle, I still read aloud to everyone as they sit back and soak it in. We write together and then share, laughing and sometimes tearing up together over various bits. Everyone still feels seen and celebrated, still leave feeling refreshed and more our deeper selves, the selves we love.
Best part about your job?
The astonishing, wonderful women who find me. I love them. And because I’m not a therapist per se, we may become friends.
What are your favorite ways to unwind when you need “me time?”
I hang out on my wide porch filled with flowers listening to bird song, writing, reading or staring at sky and leaves. Or stroll around the village to the shore. I write love notes to my daughter and design photos to send to her. I create bouquets out of whatever I can find and dance to music I love—usually in the kitchen and living room though recently I’ve moved the party out onto the porch! I love traveling to Nova Scotia and Vancouver Island in summers.
Tell us about the books you’ve written…
Bittersweet, YA Novel
Anniranni and Mollymishi, The Wild Haired Doll, picture book
Pirates, picture book
Gauchada, picture book
The Prog Frince, picture book
Cottontail at Clover Crescent, nonfiction picture book for The Smithsonian
Woodchuck at Blackberry Road, nonfiction picture book for The Smithsonian
Sea Lion Roars, nonfiction picture book for The Smithsonian
Screech Owl at Midnight Hollow, nonfiction picture book for The Smithsonian
Stay True, Short Stories for Strong Girls. My story’s titled, “Stay True.”
How Writer’s Work, by Ralph Fletcher (with a chapter in there that’s an interview with me.)
Various poems in anthologies
Any words to live by?
Ohhhhh wow! Find the humour, wit leavens and saves. And as Cheryl Strayed’s mum, Bobbi Lambrecht, said, “Put yourself in the way of beauty.”
We love supporting local establishments. Please share your favorite spots in town or nearby:
- Breakfast or Lunch: 101, an institution in Rowayton. Also a must for ice-cream and feeling a part of the community. Also, 101 supports local artists and has an art gallery in the back!
- Rowayton Market where you can sit outside on the deck beside the river so everything tastes divine. UCBC in Darien, Charly’s a great guy! Knot Norms in West Norwalk, yum.
- Have dinner: Rowayton Seafood. Delicious and you’re on the water. Plus they have an outside deck and live music Thursday nights.
- Grab a drink:SAILS where they have live music on the weekends. (Also dining outside.) I love Ripka’s at Calf Pasture Beach. They have live music and Women’s Night Out cocktails.
- Date Night: I wish. Anyone?
- Family Time: Read aloud to all ages, sharing a book transports us! Have soap bubbles, sidewalk chalk and all sorts of appealing art supplies at the ready at all times for all ages. Easy Road Trips. Find a spot on a map that looks intriguing, under an hour away, wend your way there, pausing everywhere appealing. Abandon your destination if something more interesting comes along. Take back roads. Bring snacks and sips. Make a playlist of everyone’s favourites so it’s a music share. Also, create a fake black out, or as I call them, “Candle Parties”. (Creep to the basement and hit the switch so the house goes dark—don’t let on it was you.) Candles, snacks, perhaps a book or tell family stories.
- Shopping: It has been so long I’m blanking. The Famer’s Markets—Rowayton’s on Friday afternoons, New Canaan’s on Saturdays and Westport’s on Thursdays. All garden centres!
- Spa/salon (or anywhere you go to treat yourself): Love treating myself. I have no particular haunt. Last time I went to Noelle in Stamfordit was lovely. What I love most of all is “watsu” but I can’t find it around here. I’m just saying this for anyone who has not heard of it but loves water, floating, feeling joy! When on holiday it’s the first thing I ask. Is there watsu around here? Now you can ask too!
- Grab coffee:Caffé Nero is a lovely place to hang or around the corner at Espresso Neat. Tusk and Cup. My porch.
- Any hidden treasures or other favorites you want to share? Harborview Market in Bridgeport also has live music on weekends and a friendly, West Coast vibe. From there you can stroll around St. Mary’s by the Sea. Grace Farms is a dream when you wish quiet beauty and delicious nibbles. Copia Home and Garden, a nursery and shop just down the road from Grace Farms has farm fresh eggs and lovely gifts. I love taking a book or picnic to Pinkney Park and lolling by the river. Farther afield I love the boat that goes out around the Thimble Islands and those crazy shacks and huts, all bookstores, in Niantic—The Book Barn—the funky one outside of town. And of course J. Julia’s Bookstore in Madison—fabulous café too!