Day 3: Processing by Walking and Writing

Day three of the Writer’s Retreat was one of discovery and reflection. This morning’s freewriting prompts, class discussion, and writer’s walk revealed some important truths about my writing process. As I wrote about “some of the most interesting discoveries I have made while working on this project thus far” and thought about our discussion of the therapeutic benefits of writing, I began to recognize my own writing process as a way for me to, well, process the events I’ve been through so far in my teaching career. While I was working through the daily grind of my first year of teaching, I had no desire to write about what I was experiencing, but now that I can look back with some distance on those events, I realize they’re worth exploring and sharing.

I’m also starting to realize that there’s a lot I haven’t been able to discover yet, both in my personal writing journey and in the logistical and technical aspects of this project. For example, if I’m going to craft a memoir, I’ll need to figure out how to handle the ethical concerns of writing about events that involve minors and that occurred at a school where I’m still currently employed. For this retreat, though, I think I’ll just stay focused on getting something down on paper; I’ll worry about the complications of publication later. I’m not in any rush to share my stories with the world just yet, so I’ll use whatever I write as more of a personal tool to allow me to explore my own emotions about the past two years and to discover new goals for my career.

This morning’s walk was another way I started to explore my emotions. As I walked, I thought a lot about the prompt: “What do our chosen paths say about our perspective?” My chosen path was originally going to be a shaded, secluded trail in the woods near my apartment, but it was a little chilly this morning, so I decided to stroll through my much sunnier apartment complex instead. Both paths are familiar territory that I’ve walked countless times; apparently, I prefer comfort and routine over trailblazing and adventure.

I also realized I enjoy being alone with my thoughts; I’d been looking forward to the walk through the woods because it would’ve meant avoiding that awkward smile and wave I give when I come across someone else on the sidewalk. The desires to be isolated and to stay within my comfort zone are ones that might limit my perspective as a writer, so over the course of the retreat I’m going to try to work on being more open and adventurous.

Of course, my main goal for this retreat is to actually write something, and I started making headway on my project this afternoon. So far, I’ve written a draft of a short vignette detailing parts of my first day of teaching pre-pandemic. In the coming days, I hope to write a few more of these short stories and to improve the prose and tone of the one I wrote today.