Writers Retreat

3rd August, 2010 - Posted by Christine Perrin - 3 Comments

This week I spent four full days writing at a generous friend’s house in New Jersey. She invited several of us to come to stay at her house and to spend the days writing and the evenings in conversation about our work and lives. She cooked wonderful meals for us and we ate outside on her herb-lined patio. She was working on icons (she is an icon writer). She gave us an articulate and mystical description of the icon and the process of writing them. When stepped from my third floor room I could smell the incense she burned wafting upward to greet me. The writer’s worked upstairs on the third floor together. I was working with a friend that I met 13 years ago who has had many of the same experiences as a teacher and writer as myself. We worked in silence and periodically read our work aloud to each other. We were each newly gripped by the difficulty of this work and by how confident we were when making suggestions to each other and how timid and downright confused we could be about our own work. It was profitable to be reminded that writing is hard for writers, that being an editor is very different from being a writer. We both purposed to return to our students with empathy. The blank page stares you down with its options, choices, and thug-like manners. “I dare you,” it says, “write something.” It puts on the masks of the likes of Milton, Dante, Shakespeare, even Eliot, Joyce, Eavan Boland and says “if you have the guts to do what we do, by all means, put your pen to paper, strike the key.” It was nice to have companions along the way and the grind of daily life removed.

Posted on: August 3, 2010

Filed under: Writing Life, Writing Poems


Jennifer Hughes

August 4th, 2010 at 2:12 am    

What a lovely opportunity! And what an encouraging post, as well. Speaking as the student, I always appreciate being reminded that “real” writers face a difficult task when sitting down to work, too. I especially like your insight into the differences of being an editor versus a writer, as I find that I have the same experience. It’s much easier to be decisive with someone else’s work than my own! I think one of the best pieces of wisdom on my writing was Dr. Walker telling me that writing is an art, and artists have to make choices. So obvious, but no one had ever really pinned it for me like that. I am not a terribly decisive person (as you have reason to know!), so I’ve remembered that statement and have tried to let it firm up my working habits. It’s still a challenge, though, and it’s nice to see I’m not the only one who faces it!

Unrelated to all of this, I’m going to be visiting the east coast in a few weeks and will be in Harrisburg on the 21st. Any possibility that I could meet you somewhere for even a quick hello?

Christine Perrin

August 6th, 2010 at 2:33 am    

Hi! What a great thing to remember. It’s very true. I would love to see you. I am away that day at the beach, would you be here the next day?

Jennifer Hughes

August 7th, 2010 at 7:02 am    

Sadly, no. We’re just up in the area for the day; we’re actually staying with family in Maryland. Alas. But I hope you have a fun and inspiring time at the beach!

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