I hate being a writer. I shouldn’t even call myself a writer. What am I doing on a writing retreat with actual writers? I suck.
The voice in my head prattles on, and now I realize there’s a new voice picking up the theme.
“My poetry sucks,” calls Sheila from the yard where she sits on a blanket in the sun, looking every bit a writer.
“No! You’re great. Keep going,” says Sarah from her perch on the front porch. She, too, looks like a writer, surrounded by books and papers riffling in the breeze.
Sheryl sits next to me on the second floor porch, Mac Air open on her lap. She’s watching a pair of hornets. “Are they having sex?” They are, his furry rump rhythmically bouncing against the female’s smooth one. Sheryl and I comment that neither of us has ever envisioned bee sex, despite the proverbial birds & bees. The male hornet abruptly flies off and the female methodically wipes her hind parts with her back legs and departs in another direction.
“I had an idea for a new forward for my memoir, but now I can’t remember what it was.” Sheryl sighs, gets up, and goes inside.
I’m left sitting here with two dead-end memoir trails and two crappy poems that I’m embarrassed to even save on my computer after hearing Sheila and Sarah read their poetry last night.
I was excited about this trip to The Porches, a writer’s retreat in the foothills of southern Virginia. A few of us came last year, and I’ve thought of that trip with longing all year – Wow, can’t wait to get back to The Porches; I’m going to get so much done!
Now that I’m here, I begin to recall the painful false starts and fruitless scribbling I experienced on my last visit. Then, too, my harsh inner voice called “Failure!” I had brought along a file full of scenes and characters for a short story everyone said needed to be a novel. I was ready to launch my literary career.
I can’t remember what I ended up writing, but it wasn’t a famous novel. It wasn’t even fiction. As much as I wish I could write fiction, it rarely happens because there’s this little element called “plot” that completely escapes me.
I probably wrote a blog post about what a fraud I was, and how I wasn’t really a writer and what was I doing on a writing retreat anyway?
Maybe the muse will strike this afternoon. Maybe not. Maybe I’ll just spend the rest of the weekend reading a book I would never have glanced at a few years ago, but which I’m finding fascinating: The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Storytellers and Screenwriters.
It’s much easier to read about writing than to actually write.
Still, it’s a lovely day – spring has fully arrived. The redbuds on the sides of the road boldly claim their moment, and the trees along the river are dusted mint green.
I came across a lively black snake this morning celebrating the sunshine in a newly planted bed of pansies. Maybe she’s my muse . . .