Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Professional Writing Retreatby Laura Gabrion
Ever since my children were small, I imagined the somber day when I
would have to drive them to college. In this vision were plenty of
tear-laden hugs and the instant realization that one of my children
had, despite my fierce resistance, grown up. An unexpected ripple
disrupted this dream in August when my three children, my husband, and
our dog dropped me off at college for thirty hours of writing and
sharing the NWP way.
Friday began early at the Towers Residential Suites on the campus of
Wayne State University. Toni Gibson of the MBWP and Maurya Kay of
the WSWP had worked tirelessly to create an enriching urban event.
After brief introductions, we did what we had come to do--write. Our
initial exercise was to journal about our topics. After sharing those
topics with others, we were invited to sneak away into any alcove of
the campus we chose; we dispersed rather quickly. Depending on our
selected subjects, we were able to research, ponder, or actually begin
to formulate the articles we felt compelled to write. Several of uschose to cross the campus and work in the quiet seclusion of the historic Detroit Public Library.
Lunch was full of chatter, but many of us were eager to get back to work. We again disbanded, but some of us conferred with Laura Schiller, our resident expert from the Oakland Writing Project. She made time to read our pieces, and her advice was both helpful and direct. The latter part of the afternoon offered us an opportunity to share in small groups and to savor the suggestions provided by our colleagues. After that, we enjoyed a more relaxed atmosphere without laptops and notebooks at the Traffic Jam, a local eatery.
In the morning we had a couple of hours to read, write, share, or meet with Laura. Our closing activity, as a large group, allowed us the chance to read our pieces to the group if we felt comfortable doing so. The feedback and encouragement were a fitting way to end the retreat, and we planned a date to reconvene and reveal our “finished” pieces. Standing on the curb of Anthony Wayne Drive, I realized that my brief interlude as a college student was about to end. As I watched the family van round the corner, I could only hope my children will someday relish such opportunities for personal growth as much I have.
Laura is a 2008 MBWP summer fellow and teacher consultant. She is also a professor of English at Macomb Community College.