Thursday, September 15, 2011

Retreats and Liturgy/Prayer/Recipe Possibilities

Gravity is working overtime in our house this morning.  So far, I've spilled my berry yogurt shake--an impressive mess!  Before that, my coffee bubbled over in the microwave.  I will sit here and write and try not to spill anything.

I've been thinking about the women poets writing retreat, Poets on the Coast, since poets Kelli Russell Agodon and Susan Rich first announced it here.  I've been reading the accounts of the week-end here and here.  It sounds like a wonderful time.  I'm glad that they had such a good time that they're doing it again next year.

Could I go?  The logistics felt overwhelming to me this year; after all, it's on the other side of the continent, and would involve a plane trip and a car trip across unfamiliar terrain, which would also mean a car rental.

I'm hoping that they'll write more about planning the retreat.  How did they brainstorm which sessions and workshops they'd offer?  How did they balance group work with working with individual poets?  How did they decide what was worth including and what wasn't?  And how did they decide on the price?

Yesterday over lunch, I was feeling inspired by their success and wondering if one (or Kelli and Susan!) could do a similar gathering on this part of the continent.  My friend and I chatted.  Would our beaches be as picturesque?  Yes, in a very different way.  Could we find a hotel like the one they found?  Could it be affordable?

Would people want to come more than once?  How exhausting would it be to offer such a retreat?  Could we do it more than once?

And if we wanted to have poets come in to offer special workshops, what would that cost?

Could we do it during one of the week-ends that the Miami Book Fair is going on?  Could we work with them somehow?  Hmmm.  That's a thought for a future year, obviously, since the event is a mere 2 months away.

My mom and I did a creativity retreat for her women's group at church, and it was one of the more fulfilling things I've ever done.  We had the church all to ourselves on that Saturday, and several of the women were expert at arranging for food, so we didn't have to cook.  In the morning, I led Bible study, and then we had creativity stations set up:  knotting quilts for Lutheran World Relief, creating Easter cards for the troops, flower arranging, keeping a spiritual journal, and maybe one or two others.  These were led by me, my mom, and a few women who were part of the group.  Then we had lunch, and we repeated the morning, with new Bible study and a chance to do drop in stations again.

My mom and I have talked about taking that show on the road, but I'm not sure how well it would work with church groups we didn't already know.  One of the reasons it worked so well with my mom's group is that we could tap the talents of the women there.

I love Kelli and Susan's idea because they stayed at a hotel.  Longtime readers of this blog know that I've dreamed of buying land and creating a retreat center, but among the many drawbacks to that plan is that there'd be lots of cleaning:  cleaning to get ready for retreatents, cleaning after they left, providing meals. 

But holding a retreat at a hotel takes care of some of that.  Brilliant.

While I'm thinking of possible futures, let me record something else that occured to me this morning.  A week ago, I wrote this post which talked about spiritual tracks in an MFA program or creativity tracks in a seminary.  I responded to a comment of Wendy's about writing liturgy, which made me think about Marge Piercy's book, Pesach for the Rest of Us:  Making the Passover Seder Your Own.

I think there's a market for books that combine liturgy, prayers, and recipes, regardless of the religious tradition.  I tend to think that because I can write liturgy and prayers and create recipes that anyone can do it, but it's just not true.

Would people buy a paper book? 

My hope for all of my writing is that my work will be published in multiple formats.  I know that some people would want an e-reader version that they could take with them to the kitchen and to church.  I know that some people would never read my work if it didn't come out in traditional book form.  We don't have to choose.

I'd also love to start creating books, both traditional and e-books, that talk about retreats and retreat exercises and that help people who can't afford to go/host/create a retreat or people who might need to do it on a smaller scale.

Could I write a book that would appeal to teachers, camp leaders, and writing workshop people alike?  Or am I thinking of multiple texts?

I'll have to continue thinking on another day.  Now it's time to carefully put on my clothes and jewelry and carefully drive my car to school, with hopes that my klutzy spell is behind me.     

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