Tomorrow is the first day Poetry MonthIMG_0153. And today is the first full day of my week-long writer’s retreat. I spent yesterday “getting ready” to get here, i.e., doing laundry, packing, and driving around town with the top down on my new-to-me convertible with my hair flying. I managed to arrive here at my retreat house before dark and get everything inside and unpacked. Then I had a long phone conversation before I had dinner at 8:30pm. Finally, I read until 11:30 and went to bed and read another hour or more before turning out the light in this extremely quite place. My heartbeat woke me up at 3:15am.

I woke up for good at 8:30, and started taking pictures. Once I took pictures of the indoors I had tea, got dressed and went outdoors and took more pictures. The sun was shining and trees and flowers are blooming. I’m in the Columbia Gorge in Oregon and it’s a glorious day. After I spent time on the computer, ate breakfast and puttered for awhile, I went for a long walk and took even more pictures.

Later I did a lesson of my online class, uploaded more photos to FaceBook, and I was finally ready to get my poetry prompt and write my first poem for April.

I’m still not ready to work on my novel yet.

This is my retreat process. When I first started going on retreats, this process was distressing to me. What was wrong with me? Why didn’t I walk in the door, put down my things and go to work? I don’t know the answer. I have, however, learned to treat myself with love and kindness and to honor the process. At least this house didn’t require cleaning before I could go to work. The first place I went, I cleaned for two solid days before I started work. Apparently I have to nest first, and I need a clean nest. This one is already clean, cozy, and has everything I need. Nevertheless, I have to read, rest, walk around, get to know the neighborhood, and settle in.

I brought several books. Words are critical to the process. TV is not. I will not be watching television here. I would share my poem with you, but I learned the hard way that most publishers consider placing one’s poem on one’s blog “publication.” You don’t really want to see it anyway, it’s in rough draft form. It’s a poem written from the point of view of a 12 year old girl in the backseat of a car being driven by an aggravated mother who is drinking beer while she’s driving down Route 66 and glaring at the girl in the rearview mirror. The 6 year old sister is also in the backseat, carsick. The title of the poem is “Have Fun!”

I hope YOU’RE having fun this weekend, and that it somehow related to your writing, if you’re a writer. I know I feel better for having written that poem because it is the entrance to my writing retreat. Like a welcome mat.

What’s YOUR process?