Week one of the retreat ended with an inspiring and helpful “author’s chair” session that not only helped give my writing direction, but also allowed me to see the talents and rich stories my peers had to share. I’m glad I took the time to share what I’ve written so far, as I got a lot of valuable feedback and some reassurance that my piece is headed in the right direction. I’m going to do my best to incorporate everyone’s advice into my piece, focusing on continuing to develop my self-deprecating tone and my naïve, first-year teacher voice.
This morning’s reflections in the spiral journal were productive for me, as well, as I articulated some of what I’ve been learning about my writing and expressed some of my hopes for my finished product. I’m realizing that, like Diana, I’m a writer who likes to get things right the first time; I can spend hours agonizing over choosing the perfect words and rearranging them into sentences with coherent, naturally flowing syntax.
The freewriting exercises and the daily blog posts have been forcing me to practice quickly dumping my writing onto the page without spending too much time overthinking it; as a result, I’m producing substantially more text than I normally would, even though it may not quite reach my impossibly high standards. I’m doing my best to use this retreat as an opportunity to get into a flow of writing instead of stressing about deadlines and perfection; I’ll have plenty of time later to revisit my project and revise, but for now, I’m trying to just be happy with putting words on the page.
I’ve been making decent progress toward that goal; this morning, I started another vignette that will serve as a snapshot of a moment in my first year of teaching. I’m taking an almost autoethnographical approach, marrying my bursts of creativity with meticulous review of old emails, calendars, and personal documents to get a sense of the timeline of my first year. All that review is giving me more inspiration as I remember key events and small moments that will be worth exploring in my writing.
This first week has given me the tools I need to get started, and I’m hoping the momentum I’ve built in the past four days will carry on through the weekend and into our last week of the retreat. Hopefully, by Monday, I’ll have made even more progress on my project, and I’ll be ready to share my latest short stories at our next author’s chair.