Well, it’s time for the annual Haven Winter Writing Series again, and this year we have a theme that I hope will inspire you to do something you’ve been wanting to do for a long time, but haven’t quite had the guts or permission or stamina or time or money or support or inspiration or did I say guts, to give yourself. I know all about it. Every time I start a book, never mind an essay or a magazine article, or heck, even this blog post, my inner critic puts on boxing gloves and starts to swing: “Who do you think you are?” “You’re not good enough to pull this off.” “No one asked you to do this.” “People will judge you.” “This is what OTHER people do, not you.” “Go on Facebook and see what the COOL people are up to. You belong at the other table- the one with the theater geeks and the people who missed the memo on hygiene maintenance.” “Have you looked at yourself lately? You need to join the gym!” (not sure what that last one has to do with writing, but somehow it always sneaks its way in…) But for some reason, I keep writing things. Always have. Call it an obsession. Call it an addiction. Call it just plain stupid. I’ve just learned not to listen. I’ve learned to put that chatter in a box that is not quite cast off to sea, but nowhere close to my writing desk. I hope that someday I will once and for all give it a proper water burial. One step at a time.
You can bet that voice was loud when I started leading writing retreats– all of that mean inner chatter about supposed-to-be and not-enough. Well for some reason I did it anyway. And now over 300 people have come to Haven and have had major breakthroughs in finding their unique voice through the transformative power of writing. AND Haven was ranked in the top five writing retreats in the US! You do not have to be a writer to come to Haven. Just a seeker.
This year I asked my Haven alums to consider submitting a piece about what it took to get themselves to the retreat, what their blocks were, and how it has informed future decision making when it comes to creating possibilities for themselves in the field of their dreams.
The theme is:
I Gave Myself the Gift of a Haven Retreat. So Now What?
We’ll be postings these essays written by Haven alums who will share their story twice a week through February, in hopes that you will take a brave stand for whatever it is that you dream about doing for yourself. If it’s a Haven retreat that you pine for, here is our 2015 schedule. I’d love to tell you more about the experience.
Here’s to a wondrous 2015! And may you grant yourself your wildest dreams!
February 25- March 1 (only a few spaces left)
June 3-7 (filling fast)
June 17-21 (filling fast)
April 29- May 3- Haven joins the fabulous luxury guest ranch Ranch at Rock Creek for an activity-based retreat that will blow your mind!
Please enjoy this poem by Josina Manu Maltzman, which was inspired by my one day Haven Workshop at The Loft in Minneapolis this December. The prompt was: Why is Writing Dangerous? I chose this prompt because anything worth diving into head-first is a little, if not a lot, dangerous. That’s what makes it powerful. Consider your dreams, how you deem them “dangerous,” and choose to tell yourself a new story. Making them come true just might change your life! I am living proof of that.
In honor of the writers killed in Paris this week
Writing is Dangerous
is the space between cells that holds memories
atoms of information
the part of me that blends with you
the in-between that creates
but also blurs it.
It is terrifying to write,
never knowing what may happen.
Words create worlds and we must follow them pulled to discover
what lies there.
Writing is both safe and safecracker
When you think you are alone but the words tell you:
You are not.
Writing is salve and salvation.
We need the words to heal,
mending collective trauma
where our humanity has been torn and ailed
Trees need soil.
We need art.
There must be packed art around our roots
to push against
hold the water to us
and rest there,
waiting for us to sip and be nourished.
Writing is dangerous where there is power-over,
It is dangerous to write truth into a scene that is otherwise void of it.
Writing is dangerous
the way jazz is dangerous.
The way meeting in town squares
under the watchful gaze
of the master
Even if (because)
it looks like revelry.
Writing is forbidden sex and Love
It is barriers destroyed and prison bars disappeared.
The undead coming alive
their voices rising together.
the testament of where we came from
proof of our pasts
claiming our futures.
On the page history
is told with our own words,
Writing dangerously feeds hunger
when we are supposed to be starving.
Edwidge Danticat says,
for people who read dangerously.”
Because some people
are killed for their words
and to read them
Some stories must be shared by candlelight,
behind drawn shades,
because the truth of what is said
Writing must be dangerous.
How else do we reflect
on the world we live in?
We must get dirty
What is it to desire un-dangerous writing?
To write safely is Wednesday Night Sitcom
We write dangerous
because our world is dangerous.
And as we chronicle our surroundings
we shatter glass ceilings
shards falling like pointed daggers
exposing an endless sky.