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!

The Porches  Writing Retreat

The Porches
Writing Retreat

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.

Quince Blossom

Quince Blossom

Narcissus and Violets

Narcissus and Violets











I came across a lively black snake this morning celebrating the sunshine in a newly planted bed of pansies. Maybe she’s my muse . . .

Slithering Muse?

Slithering Muse?