And so we came together.
Some of us knew one other person. Some of us a few. None of us knew everyone. We worked on short stories, new novels, stubborn novels that just wouldn't die, essays, and poetry collections.
We didn't share our work with each other except for snippets given at evening readings, but we did share our creative problems. The flat character no one likes. The first page that needs to be written over again. How do you tell a story about addiction in a broken family? About a murder in pre-colonial Africa? About a marriage that has survived? A marriage that is failing? About a lost girl in a biker bar?
Can I get away with this drug smuggling? Should I leave the body in the hotel room? What if there was no car accident? What is of greater significance, her mechanical heart or the fact that she is girl?
We talked about the realities life throws creative thinkers. We don't have a space to write. We have family demands. Our day jobs demand almost everything. How on earth can we remain productive when not alone in a room with shutters that open onto a view of a pasture?
There were suggestions, solutions, debates, anecdotes, career planning, and slightly inappropriate literary parlor games. There was French food and wine, natural beauty, friendship, and solitude.
There are no guarantees that by this time next year anything will have changed. Will she finish the first draft? Will she get an agent? Will she finally get through a reading without tearing up? Will she have the guts to quit her job? Will she win the contest she entered while she was here? Will she finish?
Of course there are never guarantees in life. But for our week together, we felt incredible promise. We made each other believe that the secret hopes of our writerly hearts are completely, unequivocally possible.
And so we carry that forward.
-Sara Johnson Allen