I’ve just returned from a weekend at The Sun magazine’s writers’ retreat in Wildacres, NC, and all I want to do is curl up with my journals and write and write and write. I’ve been so buried in various writing projects that I’ve completely neglected this blog for months. (But at least my excuse is that I’ve been too busy writing to write!) As Picasso said, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working.”
Our final writing exercise of the weekend was to recap the weekend’s events, to write something like a touchstone that we’ll be able to turn to in the months to come, when we need to be reminded of what we found up there in the mountains. The prompt: “What happened was…”
What happened was I drove in circles, ever higher, until I reached the top of a 3,300-foot mountain where my head was literally in the clouds. (As it usually is, anyway.)
What happened was I found myself surrounded by at least a hundred potential lifelong friends, people who see the world through the lens of language the way I do–or not at all the way I do. I went to a poetry workshop with Mark Smith-Soto and listened to the group’s free-writes and was startled by the simple beauty of the words these people had chosen and arranged, by the complexity of the stories they told–people who prefaced their work by saying, “I’m not really a poet,” or, “I’ve never written any poetry before.”
What happened was I met some writers I’ve admired hugely (put on pedestals, perhaps) and discovered that they’re just ordinary people–people who make jokes and laugh at themselves and like to be alone sometimes, people I can talk to and connect with, people I can address by their first names.
What happened was it rained and rained and the trees faded into the mist like a Japanese painting, like fresh black ink seeping into white rice paper. Even the shoulders of the neighboring mountains were cloaked in white gauze that seemed to wrap the entire weekend like a precious stone, nestled in a jewelry box.
What happened was I got so high off the conversation, the intimacy, the solitude, the company, the stories swirling constantly around me, that my face hurt from smiling and I couldn’t fall asleep because of the colossal buzz. My insides are still glowing, my mind is still on fire.
What happened is still happening and I don’t want to go home yet.
But I did go home. And the buzz still hasn’t worn off. And I have so much work to do.