This week, I gave my second-to-last reading of the year at the library in Selkirk with Seyward Goodhand, who read a stunning and smartly provocative story from her new book Even That Wildest Hope (check it out right here: and, look! It’s on sale!).
Reading with her – she drove up from nearby Winnipeg – and chatting with local artists and writers afterwards underscored what’s been on my mind lately: community, how important it is, how healing and energizing it can be.
Wild Writing in the Boreal is a great example. The annual retreat co-run by me and the writer Donna Besel at gorgeous Falcon Trails Resort in Whiteshell Provincial Park, this year’s version was truly enchanted. Eighteen women, plus the two of us, ranging in age from their 20s to their 70s came together to write, read, eat, talk, sing, star-gaze, and soak in the hot tubs. The stars aligned to make a magical, productive, inspiring, and heart-filled weekend.
And it’s not just me saying that. Tour the brand new page I built for this beautiful retreat to read comments from the participants and look at some photos. (At the bottom, there are a couple of links to sign up for news so you’ll get the information about plans and registration for next year’s retreat.)
Part of the magic of that gathering, I think, is because we really, really need community right now. Especially now, not only as the light fades up here in the north, but at this point in history when we’re starting to realize that capitalism hasn’t given us the type of society that we need.
We tend to lean on social media for connection (yes, guilty) and when budgetary measures mean cuts, the first things to go are community-building resources – libraries, community pools, not to mention trees, which play a huge role in creating human-healthy environments (read Ariel Gordon’s book Treed).
Maybe it’s the Libra in me, or the extroverted side of my introverted-extroverted nature, but I love both helping to create community and helping people find the support that they need to expand their lives, grow, tell their unique stories, be the writers they want to be.
It is truly incredible what can flourish inside a room full of people working together on words: stories, warming fires, the boil of the kettle, the opening of hearts to one another’s experiences (although everything is treated as fiction in my workshops).
Next up in this vein: a day of writing, connecting, spirit-and-body stretching with me and my buddy, certified yoga instructor, Kerry Holmes, at our New Year Yoga and Deep Writing Retreat on January 11th.
Read more about this on the Nourishing Roots Retreats website – and, if you sign up for our mailing list right now, you’ll get a code on December 2nd (this Monday, Cyber Monday) for a %15 discount! Spaces are limited, so if you want to join us, act fast!
If you’ve never done yoga before, don’t worry: I’m a hit-and-miss yoga person myself whose limbs are usually cramped from too long behind a desk, and Kerry’s a pro at encouraging people to be at home in their own bodies and make adaptations to the poses.
And, conversely, if you haven’t written before, these exercises will guide you into this form of self-expression in a safe and supportive space.
Other stuff’s in the works for the new year. I’m thinking of running another online workshop through email and video-conferencing: this time, geared towards craft and common mistakes for new fiction writers, with readings, discussions, writing exercises, sharing of work, and conversation. If that’s something you’d be interested in finding out more about, be sure to sign up for my newsletter and stay tuned.
And now, I’m off to town to see Winnipeger Joan Thomas read from her new book, Five Wives, which recently won the Governor General’s award and is killer) and have lunch and talk poetry with a friend. Community. Yes.