I have kept this secret surprise under wraps for so long, and I cannot wait to tell you today.
November 9-11, 2018
Colorado Springs, Colorado
I cannot even tell you how excited I am about this brand new event, The Pen and the Page, a three-day weekend retreat where I will teach you everything I know about writing your story. I have learned the healing and restorative power of putting your story on the page, and I want to set you free to launch your story on the page.
Here’s the scoop:
Last spring, I piloted an elective workshop three times through the course of a weekend women’s retreat, and the room was packed with a hundred women for every session. In the workshop, I invited them to join me for a ten-minute writing exercise. I invited them to write about a dinner table – any dinner table. It could be from this morning, from last night, from their childhood, from their honeymoon—any dinner table from any time of life. I coached them to follow that path as far as it goes, to write everything they remember, as deep as they could go.
I began with these ground rules:
- Do not edit your writing. If you hear the critic in your mind whisper to you, “Are you sure that’s a comma there, or should you use a hyphen?” Or the voice that says, “Why did you say it that way? You can say it better than that,” then you silence it. That’s not what this is for.
- Only write from your perspective. If you find yourself thinking, “My sister would tell this story differently,” then write in the margin: “My sister would tell this story differently. She might even say this isn’t true.” And then go back to writing your story, because this is your story. Nobody can disagree with your perspective of what happened to you at that table. This is your story and your truth.
- We’ll pray before we write, and we will invite the Holy Spirit into this process. You may discover as you write that a memory comes flying in from left field, and you didn’t summon it. You may think, “What? Where did this come from? I’m not writing about that today – I wasn’t even thinking about that!” If that happens, we are going to trust that the Holy Spirit brought that memory to you, and I’m going to ask you to jump tracks and follow that thought stream instead. We know that the Holy Spirit is the giver of every good and perfect gift, and we know that he is the breath of life and the heart of creativity. So, since we have invited him into this, we are going to believe that he’s the one who said to you, “Now think about this.” So chase down that memory. And just write.
Then I set the timer for ten minutes, and I asked the writers to start with these words at the top of their page: “I remember…”
And then I said, “Now, go.”
And without exception, every woman in the room picked up her pen and got started. In the course of those ten minutes, the room was transformed. The women were physically and emotionally moved in that short amount of time, as they began to see their stories show up on the page. They wrote and wrote and wrote, and then we debriefed together. Their responses were gripping, as these women shared with one another what they had discovered as they began to write what they remembered.
One woman said, “I wanted to write about my daughter when she was a toddler in her high chair, about how joyful she was. How she giggled when I fed her. But then all of a sudden, I remembered my alcoholic dad throwing a plate across the room. It hit the wall, and the plate broke. I have to write about that. I need to think about that. I have some healing to do.”
Another woman said, “My mother died twenty years ago, and she was not a good mom. But she was a good cook. We had a lot of needs that she couldn’t meet, but she always fed us well. Today, I wrote about her food. I’ve been grieving recently the awareness that I can’t remember her very well anymore, but as I was writing, I began to actually taste her food in my memory. I know that writing has nothing to do with activating my sense of taste, but I feel like the Holy Spirit gave me that gift, those memories that I thought were gone forever.”
Yet another said, “All of a sudden, I understood my mom. The only thing she wanted, through all of my childhood, was to have all four of her children get along at the dinner table. And we never gave it to her. We never gave it to her. I’m a mom now, and I understand her. I get what she wanted, and I see now why that was so heartbreaking to her.”
As a result of our writing practice together, these women developed the following:
- an awareness of their own stories.
- a desire to revisit that memory, to perhaps talk with someone in their family and see how their memories compared. They now had a “next-conversation.”
- a future topic to unpack in further conversation, perhaps with a therapist or counselor, as they became aware of a wound that needed tending.
- a sense of healing, restoration, and peace.
Since that weekend, many women have come to me, asking me to please expand the workshop into a full retreat. With lots of prayer, planning, and pitching of ideas, we have a date on the calendar.
And as a lovely and beautiful bonus, we will meet and retreat at Glen Eyrie, a conference center in Colorado Springs. Glen Eyrie includes meals, lodging, and a scenic sanctuary that just begs you to pick up your pen and remember.
The price is very reasonable, with accommodations for so many options, whether you’d like to commute locally, if you want to grab a girlfriend and share a room, or if you’d like to escape for the weekend in a room by yourself. These are my kind of choices.
Please come spend the weekend with me, you guys. Three days. Two nights. Five workshops, all taught by Yours Truly.
I am pouring myself into this, and I promise to give you everything I have. This weekend is gearing up to be incredible.
(Plus, Peter will be there. And my parents. And I know how you love them.)