Writing Retreat, Day 1

Turns out, a creator who is not creating turns into a beastly nightmare of her former self. What’s more, the creating creator is a much more pleasant beast to be around.

This is likely not news to you, as it is not to me. Yet I seem to relearn it every once in a while.

In the midst of pandemic and everyone coming home and figuring out who does what on which device and how to ethically and sustainably feed ourselves and search for new jobs…in the midst of it all, I let creation fall down. I didn’t feel creative. I didn’t feel like I had the dedicated time to give the creative process. Hearing “mom” 42 times an hour can be a little draining, even when it is a privilege. Just as it’s a privilege to live in a house with what we need and without Covid-19, the sheer size of the pandemic and its ever-flowing impacts can feel suffocating.

My family has a habit a few times a year of indulging a writing retreat for me in the middle of the sometimes-chaos that is our home. I received the blessing for one this Thursday and Friday. I began at 8 am and ended at 9 pm. In between, I mostly wore my noise-canceling headphones. My husband explained that the noise canceling works only when listening to music. I explained that I don’t need music to cancel the noise. I need a signpost. A thing that says, wait, don’t interrupt.

This morning I awoke sunnier than I have felt in weeks. A weight is lifting as I see that I am still making progress, writing is still a thing I love, and edits are not as scary as they advertise themselves to be. I also see that a writing retreat is awesome, but that I can create daily by doing. It may not be the most amazing, the least disjointed, or the cleanest draft, but I can create the way creators always have: by showing up.

So before I launch into day 2, I just wanted to say: create. I firmly believe every person is a creator of something. Try not to create life drama, maybe. But create something today. A jam. A poem. A sketch. A book. An idea. A cake. I don’t know. You do you! See if creating something, anything can make the terribleness of this pandemic a little more bearable.

A Speck of an Inkling of a Possibility

Recently I invited someone close to me to share in a vision with me for my future as a writer and artist. Being admirably honest and intensely specific, they said of my prospects: “It is like a speck of an inkling of a possibility.”

That was Sunday. On Monday I returned to my desk and reviewed my theme for this year. Lo and behold! I discovered a grave mistake I had made.

Let me back up. Every year I choose a theme to guide my work and other aspects of my life. For 2020, my theme is Shared Vision. Each of my past themes has been introspective, gazing internally at trouble areas and solutions. This year, I’m focusing on my own visions and how others relate to them, but I’m also seeking to share in a vision with people I’m close to. To seek to understand what they want in their own lives and how I might relate to that vision through emotional, physical, or spiritual support.

Last November I prepared the Spreadsheet of Destiny, aka the spreadsheet of my intentions for my theme. Turns out that November-me had a pretty clear notion of what January-me would need.

One line item on my spreadsheet reveals the vision to be present. One strategy for being present? Don’t indulge fantasies (for good or ill) of the future.

I reread that line on Monday, and Sunday’s conversation suddenly became clear. I had asked this person close to me to indulge a future fantasy. Why? Because it’s more entertaining than doing the work and more satisfying than failing. The other person couldn’t indulge in that fantasy. They couldn’t. Because the fantasy felt like a speck of an inkling of a possibility.

On Monday I understood where they were coming from. I understood my mistake was indulging a fantasy and dragging another person into it.

Another thing happened on Monday, though. A speck of an inkling of a possibility didn’t sound like such a bad thing. During a depression dip, that phrase might have blocked my writing for a week or a month as I focused on the tininess of myself. But Monday. Monday I had the health and sight to see it as enough and expansive and not a bad phrase at all.

In the universe, I am a speck of an inkling of a possibility. So are you. And that is plenty. From that, we can write worlds, compose galaxies, paint the heavens themselves. From just a speck of an inkling of a possibility has been born every song, book, movie, masterpiece, and machine ever created. Inhabit the speck. And let it expand as you create. And fill the world with art.