Diary of a Poet

Writing at a Non-Writers’ Retreat

In January of this year, I spent four days at a retreat for women entrepreneurs. Located on the Oregon Coast, we were blessed with amazing weather, a lovely beachside house, great food, and each other’s company. I brought my journal, because I always bring it wherever I go. I noticed that most of the other women brought journals too. In fact, many of them spent a significant part of the retreat writing in their journals. More than once, I walked into the living room and saw two or three women writing and sketching, some stretched out on the floor in front of the fireplace and some lounging on the big floppy couch.

I heard the word “journal” often during the retreat, but less as a noun and more as a verb, as in “I’m going to journal that” or “This morning I was journaling,” or “Do you journal?” I was happy to confirm that yes, I journal, and commenced to fill page after page of the book I’d brought.

I’ve participated in many writers’ workshops, as a student and as a leader. There always comes a time when the leader asks members of the group if they’d like to share. I’m usually one of the first people to raise her hand. But at the January retreat, I felt no pressure to show my writing to anyone. None of the other women did either. We happily and quietly wrote in our journals, unprompted, whenever we felt like it. Just the sight of another woman writing was enough for me to pull out my journal and get started.

I love that no one questioned this activity; no one asked to know what we were writing, and no one demanded that someone else listen, right now, to what she’d written. It was a private act executed in public, and respected as such. We did share during a guided meditation activity, but it was a conversation, not a competition.

I came home from the retreat with ten pages full of words, sketches, and ideas (as well as five hundred photos, several pieces of driftwood and a bunch of sand in my shoes). Here are a few lines (I can’t help sharing them!)

I believe that my life would improve if (too many to list here)

SLEEP NATURE LOVE oh no I’m crying

No one ever means to cry, no one says, I think I’ll cry now, it’s such a good day for crying      cry more she said the ocean needs your tears

the trash on the beach was pink & sparkly

driftwood like a pile of slingshots

her eye is a storm that rages from sea to sea

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