|Big old tree|
This year at Vashon Island, we spent an incredible five long days together. There was only one day, last Sunday, when we doubted the wisdom of staying for such a long time. We worked hard that day, and at the end, we decided that we were done with work and would take the next day as an "adventure day" and explore the island. That's just what we did, and by the time we met Monday night to discuss what to do next year, we decided that five days and nights were perfect and will do the same again next year. Deb will facilitate again, and lead us in our writing prompts for a second writing retreat. Five of the six of us agreed to come back next year. Sadly, Sally (who travels from Colorado) has decided not to come back next year. She missed last year's gathering, too, because of illness, and struggled again this year with some physical problems. At the end of September 2016, the rest of us will be back together again at this wonderful place, for our fifth reunion.
And I've been given some incredible tools to improve my writing, starting with Stephen King's book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. This is not one of those books to go roaring through, hardly finishing one page before rushing off to the next, but one to savor, and read again and again. It's broken into three parts, and the first is about his early life and the struggles he and his wife Tabitha had in those first years before he sold Carrie, his first novel. I didn't realize they were so broke that they couldn't even afford a phone. Or that he was an addict and struggled with alcohol and drugs for many years. He says he doesn't even remember writing Cujo, he was so drunk.
In 1999, King was almost killed when he was hit by a driver who veered off the road and struck him. He endured five operations and spent a month in the hospital. I remember when it happened; it seems amazing to me that it's been well more than a decade ago. King wrote On Writing the next year, and it was reissued again ten years later, in 2010. I love this book and will cherish it. Deb scoured the bookstores around her home and brought each of us a used copy for the retreat. All I can say is how grateful I am and how much I needed this book. I also found this wonderful link to Stephen King's Top 20 Rules for Writers that pretty much sums up his writing philosophy.
I could go on and on about the retreat, what I learned, and where I intend to go from here, but first I need to process it all and consider how I will rearrange my mornings so I can spend some time writing in my journal. Yes, I've started keeping a journal again, after so many years away from any sort of writing in longhand. I still laugh at how strange it felt to write that first prompt; it's been well more than a decade since I wrote anything more than a thank-you note. Everything else has gone the way of the keyboard or my smartphone. Or even, thanks to Siri, speaking my texts into the phone! In my work, it was rare that I wrote anything down, although Mickey, my boss, never stopped taking notes and writing by hand. Now it's eight years since I left that world, and time has only made it less likely that I would take pen in hand and write for the fun of it. That will all change now.
The day after I arrived home the weather changed. After a week of lovely sunny weather, the rain returned, along with lots of wind to blow the leaves around, and it's been just wonderful to experience the colors of the leaves on the trees changing, the wetness, knowing that I am now a true Pacific Northwesterner with a closet full of proper clothing. It makes all the difference in whether one enjoys the rain or not. I also remembered why we PNWs don't use umbrellas very often: they turn inside-out in the wind.
Even though I love the fall weather, I don't necessarily love walking for miles in a driving rain. Yesterday morning it looked like that would be what we'd have as I drove to the meeting place for our Saturday walk. Dark threatening skies, gusty wind and the forecast for rain almost kept me from going. I'm so glad I did, though, because other than a measly little mist now and then, we were rain free. My shoes didn't even get wet. I stayed for coffee afterwards with the ladies and then headed to the Farmers' Market. I've discovered a wonderful rye made by Sophie, a young woman who makes dense sourdough rye bread from organic ingredients. Check her out at her home page. I cannot get this bread anywhere else, it seems, so I'll enjoy it as long as the market is open. Ours doesn't close for the season until the Saturday before Christmas, and then reopens in April.
When we decided in 2008 to move to Bellingham, we thought it was a quaint little college town, but I've discovered it's so much more than that. Situated on Bellingham Bay, I knew we'd have access to the ocean and consequently the sea breezes that cool us during the summer, but I didn't know what a vibrant community of organic farmers and excellent food and restaurants we would also inherit by moving here. It's my home, a really lovely place to return to after being elsewhere. Next month I'll travel to Florida to be with my sister for a week, and I'll not only enjoy the visit, but I'll get to come home again, jiggity jig! (Did you remember that old Mother Goose poem from the title of this post?)
To market, to market to buy a fat pig
Home again, home again, jiggity jig
As you might be able to tell from the tone of this post, I'm really happy right now. My tea is now gone, my partner still sleeping lightly, no sunlight yet as there's another half hour before sunrise, but the day is begun, and my Sunday opens in front of me with myriad possibilities for enjoyment. I know that there will be other Sundays when I am not feeling this way, but that's for then, not for now. Today I give thanks for all that I have, and I wish the same for all of my dear blogging friends. Until next Sunday, I hope the week will bring you lots of love and light.