I am going away this weekend.
It is no ordinary get-away. It is a self-imposed writer’s retreat, a solo stay at a quaint B&B.
A one-on-one date with my manuscript of essays that will, barring any setbacks, be published by a small traditional press this coming fall.
But I have a confession to make. If I really think about it, I am terrified to spend a weekend alone with my words.
Being alone is scary. What if I get sidetracked? What if I can’t shake the penetrating loneliness that threatens to grip me, knowing my husband and son are killing hours with each other two hours away? What if I’m not putting first things first, choosing to spend the weekend with my family rather than by myself lost in the work I have created?
Media marketing guru Dan Blank, founder of We Grow Media, addressed loneliness in a recent newsletter this way:
“You are creating something from nothing. You are trying desperately for an idea to be born, to grow, to spread. I often look at writers as entrepreneurs because of this. Most businesses fail. Most writers’ work goes unpublished, or worse yet: unread.”
And yet here we are, chasing those ideas down, believing in them enough to pursue them and make art out of them, hoping against hope that someone else will see the merit in our work, our toil.
I once attended a writer’s workshop in which writer and teacher Heather Sellers talked about the fear that comes when we sit down to face our own work. It’s terrifying, that act of putting your butt in your chair and facing a blank document – or, in this case, an already-existing work that needs some tweaking.
Sellers’ solution to combatting that dread?
Visit or re-visit your writing as an act of play. Tell yourself you are going to sit there for two hours to play – play around with words, with ideas, see what comes.
How freeing that thought was, a little mind trick to shift your mindset from one that is stone-cold serious to one that’s a little more lighthearted.
I hate to admit it, that I struggle with the fear and insecurity that comes with an opportunity to spend some quality alone time with my work. Because really, this weekend getaway should be a rocking adventure.
When it comes right down to it, I know that. This weekend is a small piece of gold I am giving to myself. More importantly, it is a selfless gift my family is giving to me. Quiet, uninterrupted time to work.
I will go, and I will face my work with confidence and authority. I will put my butt in a chair, and start to play.
And with any luck, I will be able to make words dance.