Being writer has a specific set of joys and challenges. One of the biggest challenges is finding out how writing can fit with all the other things in life. I’m quite familiar with this, as my writing is often victim to parental priorities. I know I’m prioritizing correctly, or at least sometimes I do. Other times I feel a strange dual guilt that I’m insufficiently devoted to writing because of the other things in my life and that I’m neglecting everything else because of the writing I do. It is a Gordian Knot; a tangle that seems to have no solution. I’ve come at it a dozen different ways and I’ve tried to share those with others in various presentations and private conversations over the years. I’m thrilled to announce that I’m going to get to do so again. This time I’ll be teaching at a venue that is perfectly selected to both ease, and bring to the fore, the challenges of blending a creative life with a family life.
I’ve been asked to teach at the 2015 Out of Excuses Workshop and Retreat put on by the Writing Excuses podcast team. I’ll be talking to writers and their families about ways they can survive and support the act of creation. The venue for my presentation will be Independence of the Seas, a cruise ship which makes stops around the Caribbean. Why is a cruise ship an ideal venue for this discussion? It is the only workshop I know that actively encourages attendees to bring their families along for the event. This is because cruise ships are designed to house and entertain diverse groups of people. There is childcare and child activities available right there on the boat. The ship is huge with plenty of room for everyone. There will also be attendee-only workshop classes and writing time, spaces that are child-free. This means that it will be a glorious mix of learning, focused creative time, and splendid distractions. It will be a microcosm of how demands for attention must be balanced in regular life. We’ll get to talk about all of that. We’ll have daily examples of how children impact creative work and how the needs of significant others must be weighed against creative time. Then we’ll have opposing examples of how those kids, families, and significant others also make sacrifices to allow for creation. I’m really excited to meet these fellow journeyers, these people who will be with me on the ship, but who are also traveling similar life paths.
I’ve never been on a cruise before. I’m kind of nervous about it. I’ve never thought of myself as a cruise-taking person. Yet the more I’ve heard Mary, Brandon, Dan, and Howard talk about this workshop, the more excited I become for it. For the exact same cost per attendee, this cruise will offer much more than the retreats they’ve been doing at Woodthrush Woods. It will offer more than a hotel offers for small conventions. Instead of having to say “Attendees only” they can say “Sure, bring your kids, bring your boyfriend, bring your mom.” I love that, because the one thing that is most likely to make me skip a professional writing event is if it causes a problem for my family life. The event is still a long way off, not until next September, but I’m already excited to get there. Hopefully some of you can be there too.