Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Mountains Can't Speak - Spring Retreat 2014

Last weekend I hosted a writers retreat. It felt like running a marathon. Because it was a marathon. Of sorts. I prepared for several months in advance. The week prior, I devoted every spare minute to this endeavor. But the Runner's (Writer's?) High made it totally worth it.

I'll write more details about the event in follow up posts. For now, I'd like to share the result of a writing exercise from Friday's workshop. Ann Cannon and Louise Plummer led this workshop. They were amazing! And, yes, I paid them cold, hard cash for their time. Louise said she was glad it was payday because she just bought a new iPad. You're welcome, Louise. Ann said she wants me for her next cruise director. Thank you, Ann! (I didn't pay her to say that.) It really was a lot of fun.

We were assigned several timed writing exercises during the first workshop. For this exercise Louise and Ann gave a prompt, something like "a time of transition in your life" then set a timer for a specific interval (I think it was three minutes for this one) and students wrote non-stop until the buzzer rang. If we got stuck or couldn't think of anything, we wrote whatever words came to mind or chose a word or two to fill the dead space. One woman used "blah, blah, blah." When she read aloud, these filler-words actually added to the peice. It was quite remarkable. Anyway, we had to keep writing. Remember this while you read below. It might make more sense this way.

Honestly, I don't remember exactly what the prompt was for this exercise because I used my own, taken from a text message sent moments before the exercise began, by a dear friend in the Northwest.

Here's what came of that prompt: 

"What can I say that will mean what you want it to mean? Who cares what you or I or anyone wants, we just live, and hope the sky stays clear long enough to make our way along the path. You've asked too much of me. I can't do this. I want to lay down now, here on the dark soil where rabbits have crossed the path into the hedge. Were they eaten by wild dogs? Did they bear young? What has become of the soft brown things we once were? Where have our dreams gone? You ask too much of me. I don't even know what purple looks like. How can I write a color? How can a color be a mood? The only way to tell the truth is with a question. No answers here, just sounds in the dark. Mountains can't speak, no matter what the poets say." 


Liz said...

lovely, as always

Megan said...

Mountains can't speak but poets like you can.

Emma J said...