Right after the Tuscon retreat, I attended a writer’s retreat – my first one in Santa Fe, New Mexico. How did I find out about it, you ask? This year, one of my goals was to get serious about writing. I had no clue what it meant, but I knew I had to do something about writing this year.
I have self-published four books, but something was lacking. I also had this thought to make money or become a best-selling author, but somewhere in me, there was a voice which said focusing on these is not going to get me where I need to be. I remember telling my dad I wanted to be a bestselling author, and his response was, ‘You have to write the book first.’ That’s exactly what I needed to focus on without getting distracted by my destination.
My refuge for anything creative is to go to Julia Cameron – also known as the high priestess of creativity. She had written a new book called Right to Write, which I immediately bought and started reading a chapter daily, making notes and doing the exercise. As a part of this, I also subscribed to her newsletter, where I learned about the writer’s retreat. And that’s how I knew I would be serious about my writing. I signed up immediately without even thinking about it.
I worked until I caught my flight and landed in Santa Fe after minor delays, just in time for registration. I was still in a daze. Santa Fe is a quaint little town – and being at the retreat felt almost surreal. I had been thinking about this for months, and now it’s here. The first evening was all about getting warmed up. I had decided to go all in, so I attended all the events despite how late they were and how zonked I was. The second day felt like a year of what we all went through. It was intense, with great speakers and excellent writing – and sitting with a group of writers around a table scribbling away blurred our boundaries. By the end of the evening, I was crying without even knowing why. The emotional charge was so powerful that the creative blocks inside our bodies and minds broke down. The space at the retreat was so sacred and safe that we could admit to ourselves our deepest desires and needs and acknowledge who we truly were and who we truly could be. There is something to be said about the power of the collective.
On the third day, I felt so much at peace – and there were about three hundred people at the retreat. And it felt like I knew each one of them at a deep level. That was probably because I knew myself at a deep level. I was on a high – so happy and blissful. What I took away from the retreat cannot be articulated intellectually. But, I do know that the person who joined the retreat was not the same person who finished the retreat.
This new being who is a ‘Disciplined, Supportive, Right-Now writer’ has a new relationship with writing, which she is discovering as it unfolds day by day. Almost a week after the retreat, I had my first obstacle at a silent writing session when words did not flow. I was convinced my story was useless, the characters were dumb, and the scenes did not make sense. I was beginning to get restless and playing past my limit on a gaming app. And that’s when a voice inside me reminded me of this quote from the retreat.
I cannot write the book I want to write
But I can and will write the book
I am capable of writing
I will forgive myself
I am capable of writing – I wrote what I was capable of, and I accept it without judgement, how I can be something except what I am at this moment. And that’s how I cleared my first obstacle. Many more to come, but I know I am prepared.
What is your tool of choice when you encounter obstacles?