Back from 2 1/2 days with the nuns

I spent Thursday evening and all of Friday writing, holed up in a little cabin out in Aston, PA, at a retreat center run by an order of Franciscan nuns.  I wrote recipes and stories and managed to chug out nearly thirty pages of text, which brings me within 9 pages of the necessary 75.  A year ago, when I was still just remembering what it was to be a student and before I felt comfortable calling myself a writer, I thought a five page essay was a monumental piece of work.  Now I hit five and keep on going, flabbergasted at the idea that I could contain everything I wanted to say in those few pages.  I know that growth and change is to be expected after a year of grad school in which I have studied writing, but when it happens with a pleasure-filled sense of expansion, I have a hard time quieting the voice inside me that questions whether I deserve it.

I spent a little time reflecting on the experience of going away with the intention of writing while I was there and there’s a piece of that after the jump.

Once I started to write last night, I had a productive evening.  It is amazing how going someplace where there are very few distractions forces you to write.  A simplistic statement, I know, and yet knowing that there is nothing around to suck my energy or time really makes me attend to my thoughts.  Last night before I started to write, I felt a case of restlessness start to come on.  It was the feeling I often get before I start writing, where suddenly my body feels distinctly uncomfortable and jumping up and down seems like the only possible action to take.  At home I would have done anything to avoid that discomfort and would have allowed myself to be swallowed by tv or the internet.  But here I had to walk straight through it, knowing that as soon as I started to let the story flow, the discomfort would dissolve into the hum of clicking keys.  And it did.

Now I’m sitting on the back deck of my little hermitage, listening as the gentle rain falls onto trees, leaves and end of summer ground cover.  The sound of the highway intrudes occasionally and once in a great while I can pick out the undulating shriek of a siren, but mostly it is birds, rain and the movement of the leaves.  Other than the landscaping crew that were here earlier this morning, I haven’t seen a human yet today and only saw them by peaking out of my window.  We did not speak.

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