As an 'outgoing introvert' I have long struggled with the push-pull tension between desiring that human experience of connection versus wishing only to escape into the solitude/silence/space that allows for deep and meaningful artistic creation.
On Sunday, I returned from a 3-day writing retreat located on the breath-taking coast of Point Reyes, aptly themed "Writing at the Edge." It's easy to romanticize this as the most ideal setting to write- a Henry David Thoreau's 'Walden' of sorts- filled with open sky and salty ocean breezes and pelicans diving for lunch and no phone reception. But for me, it was a wake-up call that sans life distractions, the blank page suddenly started to feel very uncomfortable. And when given the writing prompt- Write about the thoughts you have that you wish you didn't have- well, it's like the ground drops out from underneath you and you're left with your pen and your maniacal thoughts to dig you out. Scary, scary stuff. There were many times that I wish I could just check my Facebook or upload a picture on Instagram or text my friends instead of write. The edge suddenly was the last place that I wanted to be. It felt too risky, too dangerous, too vulnerable.
I recently read Courtney Martin's article "Life in Lady Writer Heaven" and found parts of it to be so fitting and true-
During the first morning writing session, our instructor Sarah Rabkin said something that touched me in a profound way- "Maybe this isn't a writing retreat. Maybe it should be called an advance."
I know now that I am ready to advance, to move forward with faith. On Sunday afternoon, there were 15 writers who were sick of staring at the edge with our binoculars. Instead, we buckled on our own words and prose as lifejackets, helped each other into individual boats and pushed off the safe land together with a new energy, creativity and freedom.
Hungry for exploration and adventure.
With our pens and our hearts as our paddles.