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Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Being Transparent... and One Weird Bathroom

Recently I went to a working retreat. The working part: we were planning professional development sessions for DESE (Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education). The retreat part: it was in a funky, charming hotel situated in a small town… close to walking trails and down the street from wonderful bars and restaurants. It’s a place this group has been to before, and luckily, I got the same kind of room I stayed in before--a room with a glass bathroom.

Yes, you read that right. In the corner of my room was a bathroom with glass walls. No shower curtain. The toilet, the shower, the sink--surrounded by two walls of glass. Since I was the only one sleeping in the room, I was fine. I joked that if someone else was in the room with me, I’d probably be constipated and have a brimming-over bladder for the two day stay. Plus, I might stink to high heaven...

Marveling over the bathroom, I thought about transparency. And trying to be like the great Cathy Hall--who connects everything she experiences to writing--I will try to connect that glass bathroom to writing.

1. Shower/use the throne/brush your teeth with abandon. As a writer, we need to surrender. We need to take our foot off the brake and let loose with our writing. In a glass bathroom, I had to embrace the openness… the vulnerability. There was nowhere to hide. If we hold back emotionally, our writing won’t be as authentic, as compelling. We have to be unafraid to bare our souls, our emotions. 

2. Embrace the view. Being in a glass bathroom was unique. Being able to see the bed, the paintings on the wall while I showered was a new experience. The bathroom’s glass walls were etched with birds and flowering trees. As writers, we have a unique perspective when it comes to our writing. We need to take the time when crafting a piece to look around. Look around from the viewpoint of a character (when we’re writing fiction) and really soak in the ambience, the people surrounding the character. Look around and “relive” the moments in our life when we’re writing memoir pieces. Look past what just went down on paper, and dig a little deeper into our emotions. How did that experience impact us? 

3. Use the transparency--make it a plus. I won’t say the glass walls were an advantage in any way when it came to what took place in the bathroom, except it was more interesting looking around while I took a shower. Also, it excited me--how different it was compared to my bathroom at home--and I even talked to several people I was working with about the glass bathroom. (Only two rooms in the hotel had bathrooms that were all glass. A few more had glass doors.) As a writer, it would help if we were transparent. What kind of feedback do we want? What part of the article/story/poem do we--deep down--think needs major revision? Where do we want to submit this piece? The more we’re clear, the more we can improve our writing, and the more others can help us.

I’m curious: what room/retreat center/hotel/house have you been in that’s been inspirational or was so unique, it impacted you? Nosey minds want to know…

Sioux Roslawski is the author of the historical novel, Greenwood Gone: Henry’s Story. She’s also a middle-school teacher and a dog rescuer for Love a Golden. If you’d like to see more of her writing, check out 


  1. I've stayed in a variety of B&Bs at various writers retreats. One was a Victorian Era house. One bedroom could be accessed only through another bedroom. And the shared bathroom? You had to walk through the back bedroom to get there.

    But it was also a warren of tiny doors into storage under the eaves and more. We waited until a few key players went for a walk and then explored the building from top to bottom. No door remained unopened.

    It would definitely inspire a mystery or old school horror (something more atmospheric than bloody).

  2. This is indeed a lovely write up. it has made me realized that transparency really do matter in writing.
    I've never being in a spa or bathroom that inspired me to write something tangible, but I do inspiration to write something when am out with friends or in discussion groups with friends and strangers alike.

  3. I feel like that bathroom setup should possibly be shared BEFORE you agree to stay in that room... :) Like Cathy, you did a great job of connecting your experience to writing! :)

  4. Wow, what would have happened if you had stayed in the room with co-worker? Yikes! It does like it made for some interesting reflection, though! My parents and I lived in an old farmhouse once that I swear had some sort of spirit in it. There was a presence there, mostly in one room of the house, the one we used as the living room. I think we must have all felt it because we never really hung out in there! I also stayed at The Grove Park Inn once, in Asheville, N.C., and they are proud of a "friendly" ghost there called The Pink Lady. While there has been a new addition to the inn, I felt a presence there in the bathroom while staying in the old part of the hotel. Daniel felt it too, when I wasn't there, said it felt like someone touched him when he was in the bathroom shaving. The Biltmore Estate in Asheville also has some pretty eerie spots all throughout. I used these stories when creating a special "Halloween" episode for my podcast.

  5. Well done, Grasshopper Sioux. :-)

    I went to a writing retreat at Highlights...small log cabins interspersed among a beautiful and secluded woodsy setting, filled with like-minded writers and teachers. It was like the Universe turned on a spigot of creativity on us.
    It was downright electrifying!

  6. Sue--The Victorian house certainly sounds like it would inspire ME to never return... ;)

    Okpanefe--Oh, the company of friends. I met some friends for dinner the other night... We sat and talked for almost five hours... and the laughter never stopped...

    Margo--Both times, I was alone. The first time was a pleasant surprise. The second time, when checking in, I mentioned how cool my first experience was... and they said, "You have a similar room this time."

    And thanks. Cathy is always a tough act to emulate.

    Renee--I think you're a mystery magnet. Just sayin'...

    And if I was there with a co-worker? Well one, I would have made a bed on the floor (I can sleep anywhere) because there was only one bed, and I roll and thrash and kick in my sleep. And two, I would have used the tiny toilet in the hall, and probably would give myself a washcloth bath...

    Cathy--When you say that, I imagine you have milky eyes. I wonder why? ;)

    I have a friend who paid to do a workshop at Highlights. It sounds like heaven. You've convinced me even further...

  7. I know what hotel you are talking about and I have stayed there! Some of their bathrooms are unique. My daughter and I stayed in a room together, luckily you could only see into the glass fronted bathroom from only half the room. So we could agree to not peek when one of us was in the bathroom. Also stayed in that same room with hubby, several years later.

  8. Theresa--Mutual respect is important in situations like that. The whole place is a gem... Thanks for stopping by, Theresa.


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