First of all, thank you so much to Linda Epstein and Stefanie Lipsey for thinking up the Writing Yoga Retreat and then making it happen. And thank you to Twitter for showing me Linda’s tweet at the moment when I most needed it.
I write. I write as often as I can, which isn’t as much as I’d like – an hour here and there, maybe a full day if I’m trying to get revisions to my agent. I’ve written two novels and am hard at work on a third. But you know what? Even though I give myself time to write, I haven’t given myself time to be a writer.
I applied to the Writing Yoga Retreat because I wanted more time to write. But, oh, it was so much more than that. For three days, I was a writer. I didn’t have anything on my schedule except writing, workshop, meals with writers, and of course, inspirational yoga. I had nothing to cook, no dishes to wash, no camp-pick-ups, nothing to get at Target, no reminders beeping at me. When I’m home, those details crowd me and even though I may have some time to write, I’ve barely got anything left.
I love that classic Gloria Steinem quote: Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else. I feel that way. When I’m in a scene, I’m there, in the world of my characters, watching their actions and feelings unfold. No problem there. I can live in that moment. But for the rest of the day? Nope. Never. Maybe even never ever.
At the Writing Yoga Retreat, I was in the moment for the entire weekend. Magic. During yoga, I focused on the poses, my breathing, the sounds of cicadas and the soft prickly feeling of the grass underneath my mat. During workshop, I listened to Linda and Stefanie and my colleagues’ thoughts, and I dug into the exercises like it was a jar of Nutella. At meals, I enjoyed my food, guilt-free, and talked and laughed with my new friends. At our Writers’ Showcase, I actively listened as the super-talented writers shared their work, and I found myself walking around in their stories. At Friday night dinner, I sat between two phenomenally successful editors, and I learned that not only are they brilliant when it comes to books and the industry, they also have three-year-old sons who might just become singer-songwriters and they have loving moms who store two-thousand books for them in their garages.
I told my busy mind to shut up and I lived in the moment. I found peace.
I don’t know if I can sustain that peace – I came home to a leak in the ceiling, bills, and three boys, who, after the delicious welcome-home hugs, each wanted something from me. But I lived in that moment. I accepted it. I did the things they wanted without yearning to be doing something different. [Note: This feeling didn’t last past the first things they asked for, but let’s be realistic, who feels at peace getting your kid water or updating a game on the iPad]?
Natasha Sinel is a YA writer represented by Leigh Feldman and Jean Garnett of Writers House.