Sunday, July 31, 2011

Same and Different

I'm home from my annual writing group retreat up at Lake Dillon in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Our retreat has always followed the same beloved script with the same beloved rituals, but this year for the first time, some things were different as well as the many things that were comfortingly the same.

This year, for the first time ever, one of our members, ill with pneumonia, was unable to join us. That was a very sad difference. Every time we held hands around the table, we left a gap to imagine her there with us.

This year, for the first time ever, we added a new member to the group. That was a wonderful difference. We loved every minute of having Mary with us.

This year, for the first time ever, we had a three-night retreat instead of our usual two nights. Bliss! In addition to our standard session discussing this year's Newbery Award winning book, and reading aloud the Newbery acceptance speech published in Horn Book, and our standard Saturday morning critique session, and Saturday night sharing of inspirational readings for the writing life, we also had tons of free time. Of course I spent time writing, reading, and walking. But I also sightread piano duets with Mary, and marveled at Leslie's mesmerizingly graceful hooping exercise routine, and listened to Mary play her hauntingly beautiful Native American flutes.

In the past, I've always come to the retreat ready to share my new writing project for the coming year. This year, frantically busy with my transition to Indiana, I didn't have a project ready to share. But with all this extra writing time, by Saturday morning I had at least an idea to share. And the rest of the group liked it. So now I'm all set for my writing future.

So it was the same, and different, but mainly extremely wonderful.

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