What Would You Write?

Saturday, September 03, 2011
In the past couple weeks I've been working on a submission for a writer's retreat. I was very excited about the prospect of the retreat but, admittedly, I think applications can be as daunting as, shall we say, root canals.

If you ran into me on the street, I might not have a clear idea (yet) about the direction of my proposal, but through multiple hand gestures and a back-and-forth conversation, I believe I could convince you that I am a writer worthy of being awarded the retreat. So, I find it a bit perplexing that, as a writer, I'm not exactly succinct in writing and defining my artist's statement, a requirement of the application.

And then I realized that was 99% of the reason that I needed to go on the retreat.

Our lives have gotten so over-scheduled and crazy that writing often falls among the cracks of all the other things that need to get done. Don't get me wrong, I'm one of those women who gets a lot done, regardless of how packed the calendar gets.

But to make progress on a nonfiction work I hope to tackle in 2011-12, I need some quiet time to figure out its tangled narrative web and conduct research without chaos breaking out. (Our dog now seems offended and whines when I am on the phone!)

One of the retreats to which I've applied is simple yet distant from home. (And one day, I would love to try a Tom Bird retreat, as Robyn did.)

But, for right now, I am more in need of space to think only about my writing (and me) than I am in need of someone guiding my process. I hope to meet others sharing in the passion for writing, as well as make progress on projects that need some tender loving care from me. It will help me tend to my garden of writing, instead of throwing fertilizer and water and hoping the sun will nourish it and help it grow.

Even if I am not awarded a place at one of the retreats I've applied for, there is a Plan B. I plan to create and nurture as many small, local retreats as I can in the next 365 days--it's just adding something to my calendar, isn't it? Although I've managed that way before, I'm determined to honor and focus on my new work and let some of the older projects languish in the desk drawer. (They are usually the ones I grab when I find I have a chunk of time to work on my own writing.)

If you were going on a retreat, what would be the project(s) you would focus on? Why? What would you hope to accomplish? ...And what is YOUR artist's statement?

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a writer and editor living in Wilmington, NC. Her piece "Running on Heart" is in the September 2011 issue of The Writer.


Karen Wojcik Berner said...

There never seems to be enough time in the day, does there? If I were going to a writer's retreat, I would focus on finishing my WIP, as well as developing all of those snippets of fiction filed away. I am certain they will lead to something wonderful someday. :)

Anonymous said...

Great post! just about every writer I know could identify with it.

Here's my artist's statement: "AAGH! I've been working on a novel for almost 10 years now,and I have GOT TO get it to the point where I can seek an agent. This year. Please God?"

If I were applying for a retreat, I might word it differently...

Yes, life is a huge time suck. I have found that mini retreats--time spent at a B & B or a writer friend's house--is a big help. If I sit down with the work in front of me, it gets done. Like you, Elizabeth, I'm not looking primarily for critique. Scheduling the time around everyone else's needs is tricky. Fortunately, I am an opportunist!

Helen W. Mallon said...

oops didn't mean to go 'anoymous.'

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