I am starting to think I am a writer

I am in Greece on a women’s writers’ retreat.

http://www.womenreadingaloud.org/greece-retreat.html

If you told me a year ago that I will be on a women’s only group activity, I would tell you “Are you bonkers? No way!”

Growing up in a communist country made me deeply suspicious of any group activity or ideology. I am sceptical, individualistic and I question absolutely everything.  The words like “community” feel like swear words…

And a “retreat” sounded religious…I am a non-believer. There was also a slight eastern philosophy flavour- another thing I am sceptical about.

Plus, I am always slightly wary of groups of other women, will they criticise me, give me unsolicited advice, gossip about me, judge me…?

And yet, I am here. On a women’s writers’ retreat in Greece. It seems wrong, but it was the only right thing to do.

My mother died two weeks ago.

Suddenly, like a person who was not destined to die in her bed, at 89, she fell down steep steps and broke her skull.

After the funeral, I packed and boarded the plane.

The retreat, on a beautiful Greek island Alonissos is facilitated by Julie, a beautiful petite woman with short hair and graceful dancer’s movements.

We write in the morning on prompts she gives us. We read aloud what we wrote.

The prompts can be snippets of poems, postcard of a painting.

Yesterday we wrote from the perspective of one of our body parts. My damaged partially blind eye wrote that short story. My blind eye surprisingly has a sense of humour.

I am learning to write work which is less based on my life. but who of course, all writing is autobiographical. Just not literally. Julie keeps telling us:

Remember, it is all fiction

.I wish those journalists insisting on knowing about my personal life realised that the only important part of me they need to know is Lucie Novak, the writer, and them meet her in my books.

Did I say ” books”? Wow ! But yes, I will write more books.

We were all a bit scared.

Julie calls us writers, claiming we are.

Somehow, that made me believe that I really am a writer. The discussion, moderated by Julie is only about “what works”. She tells us to “chase the inner critic away”. How well we all know that little voice, whispering that we are wasting our time writing useless nonsense, instead of doing something useful.

Women are good at believing they are not good enough.

Julie makes us feel we are…

We write on a terrace above the sea. It is quiet, only cicadas making a noise.

Alonissos

We are all different, some confident, some not, black and white, various life stories, all middle aged. Middle age shifted for me once I got older. My children would probably call us “old women”.

The one talking about her long writing experience, convinced she is an author, is most likely the one with most insecurities.

The two women talking about their work being rubbish are probably the most talented.

Surprisingly, I feel safe and liked. I am the only non-native English speaker, and the only European.

Maybe American women are kinder, nicer, but no, it is Julie’s kindness and skill that makes the retreat a safe place.

I forget about my mother, the regrets of the possibility of a good relationship we never had. Here, I am somebody else. Lucie, the writer.

I make friends with several of the Americans. I learn a lot about America, much more than I learnt from all those novels I read and the movies I have seen. It is fascinating.

A former black Panther, a super smart woman and her partner are both becoming close friends…

A teacher, so brilliant and witty I wish my teachers were like that.

A quiet very talented Jewish woman form New York, who looks like Andie McDowall.

Another gentle quiet Canadian, who writes with the same grace she moves.

A slightly older woman writing with such humour about her evil little sister… many others.

I feel that they are all more talented than I am, but we probably all think that…

Thank you, Lily from Goodreads for recommending me the workshop.

Thank you “Women reading aloud.”

 Thank you Julie. Thank you, new friends.

I am having an amazing experience, and we are only in the middle of the ten days’ retreat. You helped me to make the grief and regret of my mother’s death go away. You made me feel happy. I am glowing, and it is not just my tan.

Am I a writer? Who knows?  But I will be back next year.

 

 

 

 

 

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6 thoughts on “I am starting to think I am a writer

  1. Dearest Lucie,
    I did not realize your mother’s death was so recent. I am terribly sorry. And I am so very thankful that you joined us on this retreat. Your voice among ours makes us whole. You are truly a writer. No, not just a writer. A badass writer. A badass in all that you do. I am truly thankful that we are friends.
    Much love,
    J.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lucie,
    I have never attended one of Julie’s retreats in Greece, but know of the wonders of them because Julie is my friend, an author, a teacher and one who walks in kindness. You have no clue about me, but it is enough that you know I, too, am a writer. There is no doubt whatsoever that you have been selected by the writing gods to put words and thoughts and dreams on paper for all of us to love. I read your post on FB just now and let me yell it loudly so you can hear: YOU – ARE – A – WRITER!
    I want to read more. So, write.

    With love and encouragement,
    Joyce Norman

    Like

  3. Lucie, you jumped right onto my Top Ten Most Interesting People I Know list the moment I met you. I enjoyed your writing so much on Alonissos and have only just now found your blog here. Let me tell you that YOU, my friend, are a WONDERFUL AND UNIQUE WRITER. I look forward to a lifetime of conversation and friendship with you.
    Much love,
    Joanie

    Like

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