The universe always gives you what you need, and boy did I need this writing retreat. Writing 395 with Clive Matson helped me to heal during this tumultuous time in my life. At moments, it felt like group therapy instead of a creative writing retreat. My personal opinion is that creative writing is a form of therapy, so it was apt rather than surprising.
It was an intimate group of diverse backgrounds for seven days set against the hills of June Lake. We slept in tents on plot 127 and 128 in Pine Cliff Resort campsite. Our days started with conversations about politics with coffee and ended with conversations about politics with smores. Instead of feeling anger and frustration afterwards like I do with my family, I felt supported and enlightened. The only thing I will say about those conversations is that America is broken and needs to change. It is only a matter of time before America hits rock bottom.
After breakfast, we’d create a sharing circle and each talk about what we were going to work on that day. Then, we’d go off and write.
We’d lunch, and then meet to share what we had written. That was my favorite part of each day. Clive’s method of feedback and encouragement made me feel accepted and appreciated as a writer and a person. By the end of our seven days together, we had created a harmonious community that laughed at our imperfections instead of criticized, and allowed our crazy child to come out and speak.
The other writers in the group were truly inspiring. I will say, I was the youngest by at least fifteen years. Representing the millennials/Gen Z!
Irene was writing her memoir about overcoming sexual abuse intertwined with her experience as being part of the first group of women to work as engineers in America. She was one of the first two women to work as a telephone engineer in all of Michigan.
Vic was processing a hearbreak from 1997 and trying to finish a song he started the year after him and his girlfriend broke up. He is a musician, and repeatedly told us, “I’m not a writer,” until he was one. His song was beautiful, asking any God for advice in a moment when he could find no answers.
Laurel was writing about her experience trying to ‘make the love’ with a man she met in her Kabbalah class. He said he would not hook up with her unless she had a mikveh, and being the curious, adventurous woman Laurel is – she did. Turns out, he was the unclean one as he had been cursed by a witch in Brazil and had erectile dysfunction for over a year. It was a hilarious story, and I hope she publishes it soon! She’s a member of a group of witches called Reclaiming, which I am very very intrigued by, as well as a tarot card reader. She helped me make a big decision!
Hursey also said he was not a writer, but that he felt responsibility to document the legacy of his mentor and friend Marian Rosen. Marian Rosen developed a form of bodywork called the Rosen Method. I experienced this practice, and boy, is it intense! It’s energy work, intuition, and healing. Hursey was able to connect with my trauma, as trauma and negative energy is stored in the body if not released, and help me to let go about painful experiences and move into the future.
Jade Raybin was writing a fantasy comedy screenplay involving a spell and some very funny moments. She is also working on a novel about a ‘fuck shit up’ fairy. She lives in LA as a screenwriter, and I can’t wait to learn more about her work! Jade came up for the weekend to write. She has a young child and is still making her dream happen. Truly inspiring!)
As for Clive – he took the teacher role, and focused on our growth instead of his own. Although he did share with us his own writing, an epic poem he’s working on and an essay on the Beat aesthetic that he is presenting at the European Beat Studies Conference in Cyprus. He deftly soothed our worries and celebrated our achievements.
Clive is one of my role models and it was such an honor to spend a week working with him on my writing. I am also excited to be supporting him in his PR and Marketing and collaborating on a poetry project called Mad for Poetry. You’ll hear loads more soon!
As for what I worked on… well, I’m trying to piece all the different things I’ve written – How To Value My Own Thoughts, The Bad Bitch of History, Pretty Words, You Owe Me Two Orgasms and more – into one novel. The insights of Clive and the whole group helped me to figure out what I’m trying to say and what I need to work on.Trying to find the narrative arc in my own life is quite a challenge! It’s gonna take some time, especially considering the big life decision I made after my tarot reading…
But yes, overall, a magical week, a breath of fresh air, and too many epiphanies during my time in the mountains!
Read more about Clive’s workshops, retreats, and readings at MatsonPoet.com.