“I’ve always felt that my ‘style’—the careful projection onto paper of who I think I am—was my only marketable asset, the only possession that might set me apart from other writers.” ---William Zinsser

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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Word Lover's Retreats

Being at a retreat is a leave-taking that can be disorienting. But because it is a leave-taking, it SHOULD be disorienting. It gets us out of our ruts. We become more vulnerable, yet more open to opportunities.

That openness to experience allows us to make connections with people. The bouquet of dahlias Mike brought into the Idlewyld conjured up memories of his wife Suzie looking at me intently to understand what I was saying at dinner during the Sharing Our Gifts, Artist’s Way retreat. I also recall a neighbor who plants dahlias every summer and digs them up each fall. Like constant gardeners, writers make prepare the soil by throwing life into the middle of things and making meaningful connections to their personal experiences.

That’s what good essay writing is: making connections and using anecdotal material, telling stories that will help the reader make the same connections. The word Ben Yagoda uses for it in The Sound on the Page is solicitousness. We look the reader in the eye and tell them about it. That was what we did at the Word Lover's Retreat in October 2008--we told our stories and we layered more stories on top of the stories we came with. My personal essay about reuniting with a college professor may prompt someone else to write a letter to someone and enrich some lives, not just the two people in relationship but the people that hear the story re-told, as I re-told mine.

Want to be vulnerable? Want to make connections? Come retreat with us in Lakeside on either the first weekend in May or the first weekend in November 2009.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Claudia - thanks for the Word Lovers Retreat last year. A great experience. Very best wishes - I hope I have the chance to attend one of your word retreats again this year.

A Winding Road - Writing

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My book, "Ohio's Lake Erie Wineries," an Arcadia production, explores the history of island and lakeshore wineries from the mid-1800s through today. I write travel, memoir, profiles, book reviews, local interest articles, and fiction. My writing is always of discovery--whether it's journaling, book reviewing, letter writing, or sharing an experience of life. I have written two novels and am working on a third novel and a memoir. I am passionate about sharing what life has to offer with others. "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron woke me up to a sense of possibility--life is too short not be enjoyed by living deeply and well. I created Igniting Possibilities, a conduit for creativity workshops and events, in the hope of guiding others to realize their full potential. The Word Lover's Retreats at Lakeside, Ohio's Chautauqua community, help writers find their voice and direction.