A guest post to motivate, encourage, and inspire...
My Tribe, My Sisters, a Love Letter Continued
I couldn’t sleep the night before we met. I don’t think I’d been so excited about anything in a long, long time. I finally fell asleep at midnight only to wake four hours later to catch my flight. For the next seventy-two hours, I would be at a lodge in Northern Wisconsin for the sole purpose of writing. I’d never been to a writer’s retreat, but when the invitation from my mentor and teacher, Kate Hopper, arrived, and when nearly every woman in my online writing group signed up, I knew I had to be there.
The online writing class we’d taken together the previous spring had been nothing short of life-changing. It was the permission we each needed to call ourselves ‘writers.’ These women had become my tribe and now we would meet and write together.
With each new introduction, each hello old friend embrace, my heart grew bigger and my smile wider. So excited to meet these women, I’d almost forgotten we would be writing at all. But write we did. Each morning, noon, and night we were given a short reading, followed by a writing prompt. The reading gave us a framework from which to leap into the unknown with our pens as swords, both piercing and protecting our most intimate selves. And the prompt guided our landing into the sometimes frightening terrain of memoir. Which is to say, our truths.
We laughed, we cried, and laughed some more. Where once I might have chuckled on my couch at home, reading these stories sent across the internet from faraway places, now I could hear the voices, put faces with the characters I’d grown to love. And all this with wine and cheese and a raging fire.
With each exercise, we were invited to share our stories. Though feedback was always welcome, it was not required. Mostly we listened, often with a Kleenex in hand. Just when I thought I couldn’t be any more grateful, my heart swelled with love for this writing tribe as I nestled into the oversized leather armchair to hear another mother’s story. I realized what I appreciated most was their presence. Showing up, over and over, as they had done when they scrolled through my words on the screen. And now, here on the edge of a Wisconsin spring, they were present, bearing witness to my truths and I to theirs.
Of course I will continue to write on my own, stealing a few hundred words between laundry and naps. But an entire weekend away, only responsible for a few dishes and one shared meal, meant that I had time to sit with myself. What do I want to say? What is my story? And why do I want to tell it? These are questions I don’t have time to answer in ordinary life. I felt a kinship with Anne Morrow Lindbergh in her cottage by the sea. I, too, took walks, sat still, slept, and pondered. A gift, indeed. And though I returned home exhausted by the quiet, I also returned renewed and invigorated, with a new love for the page. My page.
Instead of my tribe, now I will call them my sisters. My writing sisters. And already I am counting the days until we meet again.
Meagan shared her first experiences getting to know her tribe, in an essay in the Literary Reflections department in February. Go here to read her essay.
Find out more about Literary Mama Kate Hopper and the classes she teaches at her website, Motherhood and Words.
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