Writers have been portrayed as being difficult to live with within most communities. Eccentric, demanding, prone to the lifestyle of a hermit, we still reach out for a collective group of likeminded people.
Blogging helps with this. We pour our struggles and frustrations onto a ‘virtual page’ and it circumnavigates the globe in an instant. Normally, support comes back to us, but not always.
Participating in writers’ residencies, workshops, retreats, critique circles and other groups intended to knit us together with understanding fellow writers, can be positive or negative depending on the sensitivities of those involved, and how they mesh with ours.
On October 1, 2015, I set out on a journey which included nine other writers. For two weeks we co-existed in a beautiful former inn on the corner of Main Street and Pease’s Point Way in Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.
The word is Wampanoag for ‘land between the currents.’ How appropriate! It was the land, and our group the currents for those two weeks. Rising with tides of our creativity, we bounced between the buoys and found new inspirations, even if they weren’t necessarily what we had originally planned to write about.
This was extended to include a reunion/workshop with some former attendees and a couple of new participants at The Essoyes School in Essoyes, France, and then narrowed even further as one of the writers and I set out for some additional inspiration in the South of France.
Seeking words to define life, emotion, and experiences, our attempts to make sense of life as we know it often led to anguish, tears, excitement, joy, pain. Slashes of drama taking shape, heartrending paragraphs, humor, fun, groupings of those looking for the same things–or not–through expressive lines of poetry or hard-hitting definitions, filled hours and days.
Art, music, bus-catching, train-hopping, taking ferries and taxi cabs, language barriers, beautiful and sometimes strange new foods, old friends, new friends, familiar and never-before-seen-by-us sights, adventure, missing loved ones, lighting candles in chapels for lost loved ones, taking pictures of landscapes which never quite captured their awesomeness, feeling history in our bones.
Henry James advised, “Try to be one of those on whom nothing is lost.”
Over the next weeks, I’ll share a few of these adventures here and on my travel/random blog Writingfeemail in an attempt to follow James’ advice. They won’t necessarily appear in chronological order, just as they resurface in my mind. I’ve also reconnected with an artist whose work I’d like to share with you, and although she isn’t fluent in English, nor I in French, we have agreed to attempt an interview. Should be fun and interesting.
If there is something you would like to hear about first, add it to comments and I’ll use it as a prompt to conjure the experience. And as always, thank you for sharing this journey through words.
Clearly, I was a bit blown away!!
Renee Johnson is the author of Acquisition, and The Haunting of William Gray. She is currently working on a Young Adult novel, while editing a suspense novel which has international flair–an homage to her love of travel and foreign food. She lives on a farm in North Carolina with her husband, Tony Johnson, and one very spoiled German shepherd named Gretel.