The first week of the New Year I spent at a writer’s retreat at Kripalu in the heart of the Berkshires. The program was titled “The Writing Warrior: Deepening Your Writing by Bravely Facing Yourself.”
It was a powerful experience. 18 students, all but a couple of us complete strangers, came from across the Northeast (and one from Montreal) looking for a way to re-energize or re-envision their writing.
Laraine Herring, the class leader and the author of The Writing Warrior, set an open and welcoming tone for the class. Students were encouraged to tune into their bodies and breath, to release expectations and open up space for the writing to happen. Such a simple and profound approach.
On the third day the magic really happened. Strangers began to trust one another, to really engage in each other’s writing, and to share some powerful, profound, and deeply personal stories. It was remarkable, a day I will never forget, and a day that I will write about more in the future – I have 15 journal pages dedicated to that one day!
Of course I brought my camera with me, as I wanted to capture the beauty of the Kripalu grounds and the essence of the building. Unbeknownst to my classmates, I snuck back to the room a couple of times during non-class hours and took some photos to try to capture the experience. Photos of a circle of empty chairs fell a bit flat, but I was able to play around with a cup full of pens.
This idea seemed to have the most heat for me. The pens represent writing, of course, and the Kripalu label sets the scene. The fact that the pens don’t all face the same direction reflects the diversity of the group. And, though you’ll have to take my word for it, all of the pens are open, to show that we were all open to the experience and our writing lives.
I’m sure I’ll have more to show and say in this space in the future. A couple of my classmates have blogged about the week, and I invite you to read their take on the events, too. Here’s Barb, and here’s Lindsey. Two women who are at different stages of their writing lives, who shared incredible writing with the class, and whose unique perspectives can help color your understanding of this experience. I’ve spoken in platitudes about my week at Kripalu to anyone who would listen (heck, I was even moved to poetry!), but it really was fun, energizing and invigorating.