Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Writing Retreat

As many of you might know, I am a Buddhist, and as such do on occasion have need to go on a retreat. Sometimes these retreats are with others and sometimes alone. Being as I am not a heavy duty practioner like many of my pals, my retreats tend to be a bit softer than their's. I might practice but also have lots of time to write and read and walk about. I've also been on several writing retreats over the years, some alone or with one other person (Gwen usually) or in a larger community of writers.

What I love is that there are people who support the need for writers to get away from time to time. There are groups and associations and individuals who make it so we artists can nurture our craft. Tomorrow I'm going off to meet a woman and get a key to a house in Great Village, NS. The house is called Elizabeth Bishop House and it was the home of the American poet of the same name.

So this is the process by which this occurs - I was at a gathering of women writing pals last night and mentioned I wanted to get away for a few days and finish this revision. One of the writers there had just done a retreat at Bishop House. I knew of it - Gwen and I had hunted it down last fall when I was doing my farm writing gig and it seemed the perfect spot. Smack dab in the middle of a tiny town with nothing to do (I hope!), the house is a lovely old wooden place where the spirit of Elizabeth Bishop moves around guiding the solitary retreatant. So there is our small karass of six or seven women one of whom sent me off the email address - there is the Elizabeth Bishop society that offers this service at a most reasonable rate and that is just one small force. Small groups of like-minded people can do wonders. And I am blessed to be among them!
And of course, there is my dear guy, who said 'sure, go - write. I'll miss you but I'll be fine.'

Now, what shall I take? My laptop which is now getting juiced up and having all its bits scanned and so on as I hardly use it. My working copy of the book loaded into the laptop. My notebook that I keep notes in on the book. Some lovely pens. A few books and my knitting so I can have little breaks. Simple food - eggs, bread, salad mixing, tinned salmon, rice cakes, peanut butter and coffee and hot chocolate
and tea, some nuts and fruit... warm simple pull on clothing, warm pj's, my camera for a few forays, some candles, and incence and my portable shrine and that will be that! Ah, what bliss.  What would you take?

Here is an Elizabeth Bishop poem that I love:

One Art by Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.

The art of losing isn't hard to master.
Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.

The art of losing isn't hard to master.
I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

--Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.



Mason Canyon said...

Sounds like a wonderful place to go on retreat. Here's hoping you have great success with your writing and a wonderful, relaxing time.

Thoughts in Progress

Joanne said...

What a nice opportunity for you. If I were going, I'd bring my camera too. I like the perspective that comes through the lens, and sometimes bring that view to the page.

Jan Morrison said...

Hi Mason - I think it will be swell - I'm a bit worried about sleeping alone in a big old house as I'm used to dogs and men and boys and girls but hey!

Joanne - yes, I love the camera and it takes me to another place that is helpful.

Jen Chandler said...

Beautiful post, Jan. I've always wanted to go on a writing retreat. The idea of days set aside for writing and collecting stories sounds heavenly. Perfect.

Enjoy yourself! I hope Ms. Bishop's spirit will inspire :D


PS: I really enjoyed your comment on my post about grace. I'm amazed at playwrites. And to act your own work? Very courageous. I know that took a lot of self-grace.

Tina Laurel Lee said...

I haven't thought of Elizabeth Bishop for so long. Thanks for the poem - I do love it! I have to run and get my book of hers. As I recall my favorite is Geography III. But I easily could have that wrong...

The gift of being alone! I crave it and yet I think it would take me a long time to find my own whims. Yay! Good luck to ya!

Elspeth Antonelli said...

Have a productive time, Jan - no matter what form the productivity chooses to take.

DazyDayWriter said...

Love the new blog look, Jan! Your retreat sounds wonderful. So good for the soul. So good for the writer within. --Daisy

ShannonAnn said...

I hope you have a lovely time! I just looked up that poem the other day. Funny how things work like that.

Hart Johnson said...

Oh, Jan, it sounds like a wonderful getaway! I hope you enjoy it and it's productive!