First Time: A Writers Retreat

If you follow my blog, you may remember me mentioning over the past few months that I was doing a workshop and retreat through the Djerassi program in Northern California, taught by the incomparable Nova Ren Suma.

Those of you who don’t know me from daily life, will not know that this is the first trip I will take on my own. Ever. I am twenty-nine-years-old and until now I have only ever traveled in the company of someone else.

How is that possible?

I met my husband when I was eighteen. We were young and poor when we married. I was twenty-one, barely able to drink legally, when I began working full-time as a receptionist while my husband attended school on a full scholarship. We traveled with family for weddings. We took a road trip to the Grand Canyon. Life allowed us to experience many things together all over the country.

Fast forward five years, my husband applies for a job in New York city and for the first time in his life he’s traveling alone to interview for a tech start-up. He got that job, and together we moved to Brooklyn. As a girl from a groovy, smallish college town in Texas, moving to Brooklyn, NY was like being a house cat released into the jungle.

But still, in all my travels, I was always accompanied by someone.

This morning I sat alone in an airport full of people, tapping at keys, and I realized this trip signifies more to me than it may seem on the surface. The first trip I take on my own is one done to hone my craft. I am a writer, even if I’m not an author yet, and this is me raising my hand to say yes, I’ll go. I become. I do.

The thrill of being in Northern California, the excitement of meeting my critique partner Susan in person (and fangirl flailing in the flesh), the opportunity to talk with fellow writers about the process, to revise, write, and even finish our work-in-progress’s, and to do all of this with Nova — who is a huge inspiration to me and someone I look up to and admire — is made that much sweeter by my aloneness. There is no one holding my hand or walking me to the gate or chatting with me on the plane. It is just me, typing words 32,000 feet in the air, in a tiny seat by a foggy window.

I am never really alone, though. None of us are. Everything we do, no matter how grand or mundane, is only accomplished by the love and support of many. Many saying yes. Many taking up the slack. Many granting us grace, or a chance, or a shoulder.

When I got through security at DFW airport, I texted my husband this:

I made it through security. Alone. I am a real life grown up person now. 

I also texted my parents and Uncle because there is a part of me that will never grow up. Those three people support the woman I am even if they still remember the little girl I once was. A girl scared of skeletons and obsessed with Pollyanna, jumping from windowsills  while she reenacted the fateful scene that left her heroine paralyzed. The little girl dreaming larger than life dreams — dreams far too grand for the wispy sprite she was.

I am still that little girl who thinks she can do anything, but still want to be told that’s OK.

I’ll be posting on Twitter and on this blog when I can, sharing my adventures this week and imparting some of the knowledge I gain.

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9 thoughts on “First Time: A Writers Retreat

  1. This post made me smile. I traveled out of the US for the first time when I was 43 years old. Been back 6 times since. It is addictive! Go you! Before then I went to a couple of cons in my 30’s, but always with a friend. The world is your oyster!

    • Wow! That’s amazing. Good for you. I have always loved traveling. The sense that everything you see is new or different, even if it’s not really. Thanks for reading and for your kind words.

  2. How brave of you. I can’t even imagine traveling on an airplane on my own as I’ve never being in airplane. My dear husband took me on a short helicopter ride just so I could experience being off the ground and in flight. I have never be so scared in my life. I’m just hoping when the time comes for me to travel the world with my bestseller I can do it. Have a great trip and I look forward to reading more about it.

  3. Now that I think about it, I’m not sure I’ve ever really gone anywhere alone. Definitely not more than an hour or two away at least.

    I think I’ll always feel like a little girl with my parents – just yesterday I left their house with the instruction to text them when I got home (like 10 minutes away) because it was flurrying. I sorta like being worried over though 🙂

    Have an amazing week!

    • Oh, Margot! This comment touched me deeply. Thank you for letting me come to this magical place. I know I will be reaping the benefits of this experience for years to come.

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