The value of a writers' retreat is just that, permission to write without being interrupted, to make the writing priority, to fall in love over and over again with words and ideas.
I don't know why I do not take opportunity of the numerous writers' retreats that are available more often, because whenever I do—like now—the work flows like it seldom does at home. Interrupted as it it by the drudgery of daily life, it lags and snags, moves slowly, sometime awkwardly, sometimes stiltedly as a drunk man wobbling home.
Today I have written for five hours, with a few stretching and walking breaks in between, to give the poems space to step more fully in view. The manuscript I have been working on for over two years, feels new and light and has been refitted, some of the poems unlaced and re-laced, others re-soled and polished, a few given a total new face with a fresh new color, with a buckle or bow to give it a special touch. As I line up these shoe-poems I can admire their distinctness, and decide which one I will wear with what. My love for shoes is not outmatched by my love for poems, and the absolute pleasure I get when all I have to do is write, write and write some more, is no less divine than soft leather shoes that fit my feet like gloves.
It helps that I am in a beautiful surrounding, away from all noises except the sounds of nature. It helps I am relatively free of domestic chores, except to get something to eat when I am hungry, and make sure I leave the common space neat. It helps that I am not taking any calls and no one is allowed to interrupt or demand anything of me, except the poems and the care they need. It helps that I have made no plans except to be here and attend to the work. It helps that I am disciplined and committed to what and about what I write. And it truly helps that this place is being provided for writers such as myself.
But even when all the stars line up in one's favor, it does not mean that one accepts the gift and produce. Perhaps you are not my audience, as clearly you are all productive, but I do think there is room for us to interrogate our relationship to words and writing and why do some of us, even though we have been productive, even prolific, still need to give ourselves permission to write even if that comes in the form of deadlines. What I have been looking at this past week about my own writing is why I take so long to produce a piece -- and it's not that life gets in the way, sure it does, but mainly it's because I allow life to get in the way, between me and the poems. Perhaps deep down I don't truly believe writing is the most important thing I can do, should do and must do. Perhaps why is hasn't happen for me yet, is that I don't really believe I deserve to be a full time writer, writing being the only think I do to make a living. Perhaps I am afraid that if I am not caught up in the quagmire of life, I will not have anything to write about. Perhaps. Speculations. Conjectures. Avoidance. Words strung, wet clothes on a line, the city's exhaust blackening the sky.
I am writing with focused attention and love. While I am so engaged, I am also examining where I want to be as a writer and where I presently am, and seeking to discern what it will take to bridge the distance between reality and desire. I give myself permission to write. I give myself permission to be a full time writer of profoundly, insightful and affirming works. I permit myself to write all the time, as much as I can and as frequently as I can. I permit myself writing as my priority. I permit myself.
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