I have returned from a place that isn’t real, and yet is a place I am the most real version of me.
I spent Memorial Day weekend returning to Wilder: a place I first ventured one year ago. Wilder is a women’s writing and running camp, curated and organized and gently held by Lauren Fleshman.
There are many things I could say about that first experience. It was the first time I had, in a non-athletic setting, experienced the power of a circle of women. Who were all vulnerable and trusting and immediately inspiring.
Lauren offered this year a chance for alumna to return, to continue their practice, to start deep and go deeper. And we did. In four days of freehand writing, peppered with epic trail runs and delicious food, laughter and tears, and that surreal feeling when you read something you just wrote, raw and terrible, into a circle, where your words combine with the words of those other twelve women into a magical combination that we can dip into, take comfort and strength and inspiration, and hopefully bottle up enough of to sneak a few drops home.
And then, one nine-hour drive home, one day back at the office after one morning of not really being able to get out of bed, one day back in the world of internet and social media and input from a million different places. That realness-that-doesn’t-seem-real already seems to have faded.
What is the essence of that realness I felt?
That is a question beyond a single blog post, a single pithy recap of a weekend, of a chorus of voices in my head that played out in the open for a weekend and are now retreating back into their small bedrooms, their cozy nooks where I call upon them now and then perhaps for special occasions.
The question is, of course, how to invite those voices into my life more often.
As I pondered this, on that long drive home, I didn’t think about space and time to write. I thought about all the different places my pen took me, all the different topics I’m interested in, all the stories that come to me in moments of curiosity and questioning.
As I read about branding myself as a writer, as a future author, I hear about finding a niche, that if I write in multiple genres to have pseudonyms, not to chase after every shiny thing that crosses my mind.
But. What if that doesn’t sound fun?
What if I want to write about science and personal grief, about social justice and running, about travel and my neighborhood?
I have literally nothing to lose, I’m not trying to carve out a career, I’m not trying to become an expert in a single thing. What about the idea of a renaissance (wo)man — following curiosity into new places and down new paths?
I’m going to play around with this, from my blog to my website to the kinds of stories I write. I hope it inspires others to do the same, if that’s what you’re feeling. We need both our subject experts and our cross-platform promiscuous experts, who can take bits and pieces from all they’ve learned and reorganize them into new perspectives and ideas.
I have no structure or path dug out in front of me, I just know that I’d rather play around with whatever I want to write than I would lock myself into something and then feel trapped. I will use the freedom I have—that I don’t have to make money here—to explore.
I hope you join me on this journey!