Taking Care Of Stories
Letter from the Editor
One of the things I’ve set out to do for myself this year is to go on four weekend writing retreats, ideally one per quarter, and I’ve recently completed retreat number three. Each retreat has been a bit of an experiment, where I’m testing something new, like where I’m staying and who I’m going with, and each time I discover something new.
The first retreat I took I learned my average writing speed, which helps me to set goals for myself each time I sit down to write. I’ve also learned that when I’m reserving dedicated time for my creative practice, I’m able to feel less guilt and anxiety for not writing between the retreats. It frees me to be fully present in my other life commitments like my job, my household duties, and my marriage.
For my most recent retreat I found an Airstream trailer on Airbnb one mile from my house and stayed there over Labor Day weekend. My husband Jeremy and I are a one-car family so I took my bike with me to get to yoga in the mornings, and to meet up with Jeremy for dinner in the evenings. At first this arrangement seemed a little silly even to me. If I’m going to bike home to have dinner with my husband in the evening, why not just forego the Airbnb altogether and save the money?
But this time I learned that staying away from home on these retreats, even if it’s just a mile, is essential for a couple of reasons. First, changing the environment shifts my perspective and allows me to be less distracted—when I’m not at home, the only activity available is the writing material that I have with me. Second, being away from home, and from my husband, protects my emotional energy for the creative work I’m pursuing. Here’s what I mean: what if I were home and Jeremy and I got into a lover’s quarrel—how much would that have derailed my writing? Instead, it almost felt like the early days of our dating relationship, when we’d meet for dinner in the evenings and talk for hours, catching each other up on our work days, sharing our experiences and exchanging ideas.
This time I also learned that by taking these retreats and making time for my writing I am taking care of my story in a way that I never have before. Sure, I’ve had seasons in my life where I was writing every day, I had the time and energy to do that. But it was also happening in the same room and at the same desk where I work all day every day, which I think can sometimes be stifling because my professional work requires a very different energy than my creative work.
Right now my desk at home is cluttered with books, magazines, piles of bills and other random papers, a bowl from my mid-afternoon snack, noise-canceling headphones, a box of tissue, and a host of other miscellany.
I like to think that with these retreats I am giving the same kind of care and attention to my own story that we give to the stories we publish in these pages: we give them space, we give them room to breathe, we hold them and carry them from writers to readers. Writers trust us with their stories and we have a sacred responsibility to take care of them. It’s work we have been honored to take on now with this, our annual anniversary issue, for seven years.
As with each anniversary issue, we include more stories in these pages and we deliver them to you, trusting you with them as their writers have trusted us. Hold them, take care of them, and share them. May you discover something new about yourself as you read.
Here's to telling stories without shame,
Janna Marlies Maron
Editor & Publisher