Saturday, November 20, 2010

Virtual Writing Retreat

At the end of my writing class this week, as people stood up to get their jackets and find their car keys before venturing outdoors, someone said, "I need a writing retreat.  Isn't it time we had one?"  Apparently the writing center hosts writing retreats every now and then.  The instructor responded that they aren't doing one, that it costs too much to reserve the space, and that they haven't been getting a great turnout lately she thought because of the cost and the bad economy.  Someone else chimed in that you can do a retreat as an individual at the same place. 

This morning, as I got my big kids ready to go to their dad's house for the weekend, I decided to do a retreat of my own, and planned a marathon of writing in my bedroom with the door closed.  I imagined I could send my husband out on errands with the baby to finish the Christmas shopping, pick up delicious eats, and maybe even have him test out the dishes we have planned for Thanksgiving, African dishes we have never made before, that definitely deserve a test-taste before the Thanksgiving day.  I thought he would love that and would totally enjoy picking out Christmas decorations, outdoor lights we have been meaning to do for years.  I thought my retreat would give us a needed break after a bad week and would make me happy again - writing seems to be the one thing guaranteed to make me smile. 

I thought I would take breaks with my writing to show him what I've written and exercise every few hours - ride my exercise bike with hippie music in the background (my favorite kind) while the laundry washes itself clean.  I was going to have a fabulous writing weekend.  Then it occurred to me it would be fun to do a virtual retreat - to invite the writing class and you to join me - so we aren't alone in our retreat.  We could write and then post our thoughts about writing on a web page - maybe a blog dedicated to this.  I think that the thought that someone else has their head down being creative simultaneously gives your writing energy the way a fast write in class does. 

Two hours ago, I opened my laptop and logged on intending to share this brilliant idea I had, to invite friends to spend their day with me writing and celebrating our writing with yummy eats and herbal tea and an occasional walk outside (not literally together but walking and writing together separately).  I saw dust on my laptop screen and wiped it off with my sleeve, at the same time knocking over a full cup of coffee that poured all over my white carpet and my desk, just missing my writing journals, laptop, and books.

My writing space is ruined for the day.  After screaming at the top of my lungs for towels and dish soap, I mopped up the mess with full over-the-top emotion, the kind that surely ruined everyone's day in my home.  My husband handed me spot remover and filled up the carpet cleaner for me.  I cleaned the carpet with no effect.  I poured (not sprayed, literally poured) the spot remover on the giant stain.  I scrubbed again by hand with towels and cleaned two more times with the carpet cleaner.

I stepped back and looked.  There's a big brown smear on the wet carpet right in front of my desk drawer, next to my desk chair, like a giant dog has wiped his butt on my carpet.  Perfect. 

I am letting the carpet dry and have vacated my writing space.  I still like the idea of the virtual writing retreat and wish I could start it right now, even alone.  Instead, I am going to pour myself a second cup of coffee, make myself a nice breakfast, and go back upstairs to clean my carpet until I love my writing space again.

In the meantime I created a blog for a virtual writing retreat.  Please join me at  I will be there as soon as my carpet dries....

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