Friday, April 22, 2011

Writing Retreat

Last week I spent the entire week in a cabin in the woods writing.  An organization I belong to owns some property on about 50 acres with a beautiful lodge on it which is available for groups or individuals to rent.  Realizing I needed to make some progress on my book, I decided to rent it for a week so I could isolate myself from day to day worries (and the internet) and WRITE!

I arrived Saturday morning and spent the first five hours on a Silent Retreat with another woman.  We spent our time journaling or walking through the woods or simply in meditation.  It was a lovely time to set my intentions for the week and to get into the spirit of contemplation.

After she left I brought my things into the Lodge and set up a work space and a sleeping/yoga space.  After that, I started to organize my files but soon realized I was thoroughly exhausted.  I decided to take a nap so went in an lay down on my rather pitiful bed made of two skinny, thin camp mattresses.  They sufficed.  I fell asleep within minutes and didn't wake up until thirteen hours later when the sun was just beginning to intimate its arrival into the thick woods.

I got up and did a long luxurious session of yoga as the sun began to show through the trees.  The Lodge has windows all around so it was almost like being outdoors doing the yoga, but without the bugs, thankfully!

After breakfast, I was ready to work, and it was only 7:30.  Unsure of how to approach this gargantuan project, I decided to pile the pictures of my paintings of my models randomly then chose one and write about it until I made it through the entire pile.  I set my timer for 10 minutes and wrote about one model, then another 10 minutes, and another until I had written as much as I could about that model.  Most of my models have already written about themselves or their experience modeling for me, so I quickly found there wasn't all that much I could/wanted to add to that.  Instead, I found that they provoked other stories in me.  I was surprised to find that most of the time I ended up writing about my own journey.  I wrote about giving birth, being pregnant, nursing, exercising, learning to be an artist - whatever came up.  I decided not to try to control the muse, but, rather, to see where she would take me.

The week ended up becoming a very personal journey thanks to the willingness of my models to share their own stories with me and others.  I realized that this book will be like that - images and stories of women courageous enough to honor us all with bits and pieces of their lives so that we can perhaps gain insights into our own lives and, through that, grow closer to our own authentic selves.

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