What I heard echoed again and again in that group of teachers is doubt. Doubt and time. We doubt ourselves as writers and we fail to make time to write. But I also heard the reverberating notion that when we do carve the time to write, everything else makes more sense.
We read and discussed a chapter from The Teacher Writer: Creating Writing Groups for Personal and Professional Growth. In it, Dawson emphasizes the value of the experience of writing, rather than the writing itself. I didn't produce much writing I was proud of, but the experience of spending the day writing and sharing among teacher writers is where the value lies.
The whole weekend was full of experiential knowledge. We talk like extroverts are dominant in our culture, but I don't count a single extrovert among my friends. I spent last evening in a cabin in the woods alone. For hours. Without distraction. No music. No one else. No wifi. That would have brought tremendous peace and tranquility for some. For me, it provided a breeding ground for anxiety. And hear me, I love nature. I need alone time. When I choose it. But the day had already kicked up settled silt. It brought into the light things I need to explore but had forced into dormancy. So in the evening when the sun went down and I was alone, I had to confront some demons. An extrovert in isolation with her thoughts is not a pretty thing. Why can I feel filled and accepted and enough in the presence of others, but be full of doubt and uncertainty the moment I'm alone?
I'm not good at trusting myself. I rely too much on the approval and validation of others. It's a shortcoming. And while the evening was not relaxing or comforting --I paced for awhile, people-- the sun rose and I was okay. I acknowledged some things I hadn't wanted to before. I know that we can't grow if we aren't willing to look into some of those dark crevices, shine some light there to see what we're working with, and strive to patch the gap.
The path forward is messier than before, but it's more truthful. I'm learning, slowly, to trust myself. And my beautiful tribe is planting marigolds that will strengthen me along the way.