“The delights of the poet as I jotted them down turned out to be light, solitude, the natural world, love, time, creation itself. Suddenly after months of depression I am fully alive in all these areas, and awake.” – May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude
The 2014 winter session was my first time to take Story 101. In our first meeting, Elora asked us to take a few minutes to write down why we were there. Why were we taking the course? What did we need? What did we expect to get out of it?
I wrote this:
Last year, I decided (finally admitted) that writing was what I wanted to do. What I was afraid to do. What failing at would break my heart more than any other possible failure. What I must do. This course is my leaping off point to make it an intentional part of my schedule instead of the whenever-I-get-around-to-it part of the schedule that it has been. I need this because I have two other jobs, so if something isn’t planned with a specific time attached to it, it usually doesn’t happen, no matter how much my soul needs it.
By the end of the course, this goal was realized. If that was all that I’d gotten out of Story 101, it would have been enough. I would have been satisfied that I had gotten my money’s worth.
A few weeks into the course, however, I discovered another reason that I was there – a reason that I never would have thought to make into a goal. You see, everyone who takes Story 101 probably has their favorite week(s). Some people really love the week on memoir, some soak up all the information on marketing yourself as a writer without losing your soul that they can, and some love discovering new modes of expression that they had not used before.
I’m the weirdo whose favorite week is the week of silence.
I have always required a relatively large measure of solitude in order to function as a proper human. I have also always harbored a relatively large measure of guilt for doing so. I have sometimes felt and have been accused of using it as an excuse to waste time. I have been expected to justify it to others and have tried in vain to do so. I have felt selfish. I have felt that, no matter how much time I tried to make for friends and family, that it was never quite enough.
Then, per Elora’s suggestion, I turned off the television and the Internet while I was home. I wrote for an hour a day. I spent twenty minutes a day just sitting. I went on walks. I read May Sarton’s Journal of a Solitude wherein one of my favorite poets wrote an ode to a lifestyle of solitude, describing it as the reason she was able to give so much beauty to the world.
And my thoughts began to rewrite themselves.
What felt selfish was now restorative. What felt like an excuse became a reason. What felt indulgent still felt indulgent, but in the best possible and most productive way.
What felt like not enough was suddenly rich and abundant.
I still have some of those doubts and feelings – old habits die hard. But now when they rear their wagging heads, I have ammunition against them, and I got it from Story 101.
There are many reasons that people take this course, and this fall is your last chance to take it live. Follow my affiliate link to the Story 101 syllabus, and you just might find your reason(s) lurking there.