I have had writer’s block for several months now. The anti-muse in me says, “Who cares about writing? This country is falling apart, who wants to read a personal essay?” I have been silenced as I follow social media constantly for the next scandal, the next outrage, ignoring my writing.
This weekend, I took a pause from my everyday life and went to Barbara Abercrombie’s writing retreat in Lake Arrowhead. In the clear mountain air amid the pines, the muse came back. There were five minute writing exercises to loosen the pen, insightful and helpful comments from fellow writers, and Barbara’s calm and sage wisdom guiding us all. Several essays, including mine, were influenced by Trump and current politics. I dusted off an old piece and refined a new one. The logs crackled in the fireplace and I had the condolet to myself as I wrote and rewrote late into the evening both nights, incorporating the advice I received during workshop. By Sunday morning, I felt bonded to my fellow writers and wanted to stay for another week or another month, reading my work aloud and listening to theirs.
Sometimes all it takes is a pause from everyday routines and a chance to step back, indulge in the muse, and rediscover why we write. We ended the workshop with each of us reading lines from Terry Tempest Williams’ poem, “Why I Write.” These were the lines that resonated with me this weekend:
“I write to make peace with the things I cannot control.”
“I write against power and for democracy.”
“I write out of my anger and into my passion.”
“I write as a witness to what I have seen. I write as witness to what I imagine.”