Tomorrow I’m traveling to an east coast writing retreat where I was granted an eighteen day fellowship. I’m excited to go, and it almost feels weird, because nothing fun has really happened in the last year and a half. Two birthdays in quarantine, conferences moved online, no travel just for enjoyment. I miss the world.
I was awarded a fellowship here once before. I spent the entire month of January 2020 working on my memoir, hanging out with writers in all genres, with visual artists working in multiple mediums, with composers making all kinds of music. Nothing to me is so generative and downright comforting as hanging out with my tribe. We all get it. Art is everything and art is really hard and it’s the best.
I left feeling everything was going my way. I had big plans, baby. Workshops I was designing. Editing clients. Writing projects. Then we all learned the word COVID, and you know what happened after that. Everything fell still. Everything closed. And my inner life grew, for the most part, stagnant. I’m an introvert and it was still much harder than I expected. I’ve survived okay, but I have not thrived without a regular, predictable, IRL connection with the outside world.
In 2020, I attended this retreat with a hardcore writing plan (à la Marion Roach Smith). I worked hard, too hard really. I wanted to make progress. I wanted to meet goals. I wanted to prove to myself that I knew how to be a writer.
Today I realized, you know what, I don’t have to do that. I can plan my work day by day. I can work on whichever project grabs me. I can seek inspiration by going for walks and hanging with my peers and reading. I can experiment (à la Dani Shapiro and others).
So I’m not going with a hardcore plan this time. I’m not trying to prove anything. I’m going with flexible ideas and a desire to discover. I want to remember how fun writing is. It doesn’t always have to be a task on my list to check off. What if I simply get in my creative headspace and make room for writing, invite it in, and see what happens? Just play with it?
Does that sound scary? Because it scares me. And I’m going to do it anyway.