I’m trying to travel light next week for Vortext, a lovely writer’s salon hosted by Hedgebrook and the Whidbey Institute on an island just outside Seattle. I drew the Hanged Man this week as I started packing in earnest, an apt reminder to approach the task with — wait for it — non-attachment. I’m always afraid I’ll forget something I need!
On a deeper level, the card is an invitation to enter this writing retreat without placing too much pressure on that time, rare as such a getaway is for me. Not that there isn’t opportunity in the everyday to do some kind of writing — I’m passionate about supporting other writers in cultivating windows, large and small, for their practice — but three days devoted solely to that work is something to be relished.
So, of my many notebooks, the only one I’m taking is the one whose back cover has fallen off, whose remaining pages are the leftovers from a diary I kept when I was in eighth grade. I wrote all my entries in code because I thought I was keeping my words safe from prying eyes. I was also writing what I couldn’t admit to myself about a mentor’s attentions that blurred the lines of propriety. I put those pages away for 20 years before I took them to this conference, knowing I needed to revisit what they held.
In the first workshop on the first day, we dropped into a writing exercise. In the spare pages of the notebook, I started scribbling. Little by little, a narrative emerged. Not the one I had recorded at 14, but the next piece of the story at 34, the lens through which I might reexamine — and decode — those locked down memories.
While the memoir I’m working on began long before that workshop, it was that exercise that cracked open the story. It allowed me to connect pieces of my history that, for two decades, I had ignored or willingly forgotten.
I’ve been unpacking this found baggage in fits and starts over the last four years. And I'll carry the notebook with me next week to remind me that the process takes as long as it needs to.
What stories have you been carrying that you’re struggling to decide how to share? Where do they live — in your heart, your mind, your body, or somewhere else? Try providing a safe space for them to be expressed for no one else but you — in a journal, on a notepad, in a digital file on your phone. How did you feel as you grounded your story by giving it room to take more concrete form? Share your thoughts with me by clicking the button below.
join me on instagram for more reflections from vortext
I’ll be posting during my trip via my feed and on Instagram Stories. Follow me @draftcreativecoaching.