January is the month to retreat–from the day to day, from the endless news cycle, from writing alone. The first of my two St. George Island retreats took place from January 6th through the 13th, and what a gathering it was! Each of the Sisters of the Sentences arrived with a project-in-the-works and the determination to leave with fresh pages.
Here is a photo of the Sisters (and their Oreos).
Back row, left to right: Sharon, who brought her guitar and a story about “The Boys on Mars;” Mary W., who is usually a poet but tried her hand at fiction; Jamie, who we all decided was funny enough to be a stand-up comic (oh yeah, she also worked on a novel); Mary A., who is writing a fantasy that involves the Salem Witch Trials; Polly, who is new to the group, who will also travel in time, in her case to the Revolution (no, not that one, the Industrial Revolution); and Dr. Joan, who will retire from being a professor at the end of this semester and promises to work harder on her memoir once the job is behind her.
Front row, left to right: Perky, who has organized the retreats for thirteen years and is working on a novel titled, Boxes, me, who swears she will do the last edit on her novel and submit it this year, really; Gina, who has become Perky’s partner in all things retreat-related, and who has an epic novel in progress set in the time of the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights movement; and Joanna, whose novel involves a wildlife biologist, a crow, and a little red mutt. Unfortunately, our dear friend Evelyna was waylaid by illness–she had her packed bag by the door of her home until the very last day.
I taught two workshops a day. We all ate more than was good for us, shared laughter, and even tears.
About the Oreos. What can I say? It is a tradition to take a photo of the group with Oreos–it is more complex than that, but maybe you had to have been there to get it.
Although the evidence of Michael was everywhere on the island: there were blue-tarp roofs, twisted boardwalks, and flickering internet, we all loved our time together–and we all went home with new pages and a tailwind that will, hopefully, carry us toward the goal which can be expressed in two words: