Wednesday, April 27, 2011
When the Real World Tries to Take My Candy...
So I'm back in the real world, and I'll be honest, I tend not to return to real life well.
Imagine taking a three-year-old out of a candy shop where she had just been allowed to try every piece of candy she wanted, play with the cash register, take a nap on the Charleston Chews, and basically control every moment of her day without any responsibility. Imagine her kicking and screaming as you dragged her back into the car and whisked her back into her regular life of bedtimes, schedules, people caring what she eats, no candy except on special occasions.
This is basically me after a writing retreat.
I am the crying child who wants her candy shop back.
Of course, when a woman makes a statement like this it must be followed up with one of these-- This is not say I don't love my life, my family, my friends, my home, my pets, and so on.
But it is to say, writing residencies offer me something I do not have in my real life-- freedom.
Okay, I have freedom, but I don't have *freedom* - where there is no need for clocks, for chores, for checking in with anyone, for showing up anywhere else except to my writing, for not having to feed anyone but myself, and so on.
Yes, it was the candy shop. It was magical and synchronistic and inspiring.
But it's not real life. (Note: Currently, I am trying to figure out how to live a retreat lifestyle in my regular life, but honestly, it's difficult.)
And I come back from retreats like a rocket entering the atmosphere, sparks and fire, friends. (I'm working on a long memoirish work about this exact thing, which happened to me a year ago when I went on a week retreat in December.)
A friend said to me she completely connected with Tina Fey in the movie Date Night when Tina said her fantasy was alone time in an air-conditioned hotel room with diet Sprite. (Her husband is having erotic fantasies that involve Cyndi Lauper, but this is what the woman wants.)
And I love real life. But I also love alone time. And writing time.
I think a lot of us yearn for alone time or writing time, but it's hard to say because we're mothers, or we're married, or we're working or we're somebody's daughter, sister, caregiver, lover, pet owner, fish feeder, gardener, home owner.
Tonight I'm going to watch Who Does She Think She Is? and reconnect by DVD with some other mother artists who are balancing or trying to balance their life.
If you are a writer and have never gone on a writing residency, I recommend it.
Begin with just a couple days. Or start with a week.
Realize there is no wrong way to do it.
It's Wednesday night and the candyshop in my memory is fading. I'm no longer watching clouds pass and have dishes to do, guinea pigs to feed, a house and family to tend.
I know if I had writing residencies all the time, they'd probably lose their magic. Like how too much sugar isn't really good for the three year old inside us. And of course, if I had no one or nothing to leave, I'd feel sad then too. Oh life and it's everything-in-its-time mentality.
So this part of life too, we take time for ourselves and our art and we return. Still, I want to find that retreat mind in my life more often...how to do that, how to do that...
And now I have my next retreat to look forward to, in September... on the Oregon Coast.
September 9-11 at the Sylvia Beach Hotel. And I can't wait. It's Poets on the Coast: A Writing Retreat for Women
I love getting away with other women writers. Susan Rich will be joining me and we plan on making it a special weekend for the women writers who join us. If you're interested, we have a couple more places left, which you can learn more about it here.
But until then, I will continue to find my own writing retreat in smaller ways in my life. A three-hour retreat. A writing day with friends. A day at the museum to fill up with art. Writing residencies remind me to live more mindfully in my life. And I'm trying (when I'm not kicking and screaming), I'm trying. Sparks and everything.
Written by Kelli Russell Agodon