|Breakfast at The Hardware Store|
Four years of gathering together, each time a little different from before, but with the same women bloggers who are now known to us as the Vashonistas, since we've been coming to this same sacred place on Vashon Island each year. Some of us blog more often than others, but we all found each other in the world of the blogosphere. In previous years, we would arrive on Friday and spend the weekend together, leaving on Sunday morning. I wrote about our first gathering here, which chronicles our first time together, the event that started this whole adventure.
This year, we extended our visit to six days and five nights. We've been here three nights now, and we still have tonight and tomorrow before packing up and going home on Tuesday. Since we had been good guests at the farmhouse in previous years, we were given a discount on the cost, and it's been very reasonable for all of us. Deb agreed to facilitate a writing workshop for us, and that has truly been an eye opener for me. I wanted very much to find some different directions that I might travel in my writing, both in style and in content, and already I've gained some real insight into how to explore and go forward from here.
It hasn't been easy. Instead of trying to cram everything into a very short space of time, we have days and days of interaction and have put the time to good use. Starting on Thursday evening, continuing into Friday and Saturday, we have been writing and critiquing each piece that we have shared, coming from writing prompts given to us by Deb. It's amazing to me how many different takes there can be in a simple phrase or image. And we are then given a bit of time (varying from five to fifteen minutes) and write in longhand into our notebooks. It's a fantastic technique; when I begin to write I'm sure that my piece will be a close copy to everyone else's, but no, that never happens! I find myself marveling at the creativity that comes from each person's life experience and how differently each of us translates the prompt.
We have two more full days, today and tomorrow, to work together (and it is work), but when I return home I have already decided I will begin to keep a writing journal that is different from what I write in my blogs. It's become obvious to me that what comes out of my fingers when I am using a pen is entirely different than what flows onto the keyboard. At first, I was so unused to writing in longhand that I struggled to remember how to form words, it had been that long. But now it's beginning to feel much more comfortable and legible. How could I have forgotten?
It occurs to me that the young people of today are not learning how to do this, and many schools are no longer even teaching cursive script. I feel very fortunate to have been educated in a time when electronics did not come into the classroom in any form at all. That was, of course, because they didn't exist yet. Instead we had pictures of the cursive alphabet over the blackboard, showing how to write lower and upper case letters. That has all changed, and before this workshop it never occurred to me how this skill might be lost forever. Do students today write everything down only on their tablets and computers (and phones)? I'll have to ask my fellow Vashonistas, since most of them were teachers, some just recently retired. Curious. I am shaking my head in wonderment at how much our lives have changed over the past decades. Why, I can hardly remember a time when I didn't have a cellphone, which has now become so much more than a phone, but a pocket computer as well.
At this moment as I sit in my bed, I am saturated by all the interaction and all that I have learned so far this week. I re-read my post from three years ago and find much has remained the same in our lives, and for others, much has changed. It was at that gathering that I realized for the first time in years my need for introspection and needing some time for myself. Every night I am the first to leave the gathering and retire to bed. I can hear the others laughing and sharing, but I am happy to slip into my bed and snuggle under the comforter while they continue.
I just got out of bed and moved upstairs to join the others and have some coffee. If I stayed in bed I would miss the sunrise and the beautiful view of Mt. Rainier we would have this morning. Tomorrow I'm going to get my camera out so I can capture the incredible beauty of this place. Sometimes you need a zoom.
Okay, this is going to have to end here, as I already have three other Vashonistas up and chatting with me, and I cannot concentrate on my post. My time to reflect on all this is not this very moment. Next week, I'll have my dear partner next to me, and my life will have gotten back to normal. Until then, be well and have a wonderful, productive time.