Monday, October 20, 2014

Affirmative Assumption, My Writing Retreat Adventure, Part II

One of our walks on the beach.

"Do not ASSUME," the saying goes. "Because when you break it down, it makes an ASS out of U and ME."

You've heard that phrase or something like it, right? If you haven't, well, now you can add it to your list of old fashioned or outdated bits of advice or pack it away in your arsenal of witty retorts.

Assumption has been given a bad rap. I know, I know. It's true that I shouldn't assume that I understand another person's experience if I haven't lived it. I agree, though I may be able to understand some of the feelings or bodily reactions if I have experienced something similar. I know that I can never understand the lived experience of being, for example, a Deaf person in this country (I am hearing), or a person of color (I am white), or a Wheelie ([can I use that term, Bug?]  I am a walkie), and so on.

But it is also true that assumptions can be positive experiences. The writing retreat at Rockaway Beach, which ended one week ago, was proof of positive assumption.

It has been hard to put what I felt into words, in person, when I've tried to explain it to a couple of people. Some success and mostly people "got" what I was trying to say. I'm going to try to put the words down here, as well.

But there was an atmosphere of assumption:
- that each of us are authors;
- that each of us hae a project we were working on or towards;
- that each of our projects are worthy of publication;
- that each of us are or can be published authors;
- that each of us would find our own process about how we needed to take care of ourselves and our writing during the week;
- that each of us would write and process and take breaks, sleep and eat and be involved in group activities as was appropriate.
When the cook was away for a night, we went out for dinner!

That each of us are skilled writers of equal value and importance and writing ties us together was in the air for the entire week. There was no doubt that we were authors and we were writing.

I suspect some people reading this may wonder why that was even a question. Of course. We each went there for a writing retreat. Duh. But it isn't always true when writers or wanna-be-writers come together that there is this total giving over to our author selves as valuable and in a spirit of acceptance that whatever each of us needs to do, she will do it, for herself and her writing. I am grateful to each participant and to Lori Lake. The success of a retreat like this has to have a good facilitator, a good leader, who sets the tone and expectations.

Lori made each of us feel comfortable in our author selves. She made time for each of us individually, before and during and even after the retreat. She led discussions in the evenings, shared resources, was a positive presence throughout the week.

Luca did an amazing job of meeting a myriad of dietary needs and preferences, with delicious and healthy meals. With making sure there was a variety of options for our make-our-own breakfast needs, which happened from the time the first person got up around 6am until the last of us got up around 10am. She also led us in a couple of collage nights, designed specifically for our retreat. Again, Luca was another great leader in the assumption that each of us would participate or not in the collage nights, as we needed to do for our author selves that week.

It was a week of being present. Of writing. Of knowing that I was in the right place and with the right people. Affirmative assumption can be a very good thing.

Rockaway Beach, OR  10.11.14