Exactly a year ago today, I attended Write Away, an all-women writing retreat in Casa Luminaria, Batangas. The organizers and mentors were familiar to me: I worked with life coach Aurora Suarez back when she was a big boss at Summit Media, I often see #RomanceClass founder Mina Esguerra at various workshops and events, and even though I’d never met author Sam Sotto in person before, I was a fan of her work and actually owned a signed copy of one of her books.
The seven other participants, however, were strangers to me. It was a bit nerve-wracking at first, but I went into the retreat with an open mind and an open heart. By the end of three nights and four days, it felt as if we were bonded for life.
Every day, we would meditate together, listen to each mentor’s workshop, tell stories over sumptuous meals, and then go off to our quiet corners to write. Some wrote fictional stories, while others wrote poetry, letters, and journal entries. It was a joyful time to write and get to know other women who were so different from me, yet in many ways, also the same.
On the first day of the retreat, we received this lovely box full of surprises. We also got to choose a Practical Magic tarot card. I chose the Ace of Pentacles: Abundance Begins. By the end of the retreat, I was definitely overflowing with an abundance of inspiration, new learnings and insights, new friends, and a newfound appreciation for wine and cheese, thanks to the sumptuous cheese boards Sam put together.
One of the activities we did during the last day of the retreat was to write a postcard to our future self. The postcard would then be mailed to us a year later. A few weeks ago, my fellow retreatants started posting about receiving their letters.
To be honest, I was kind of dreading receiving mine. During Write Away, I was working on a young adult novel that I had hoped to release by this time. I thought my postcard would say something like, “Congratulations, Angel! You finally finished your novel and released your second book. I’m so proud of you.”
Unfortunately, the novel is not yet done, and it doesn’t look like I’ll be finishing this year. I didn’t want to see the postcard, knowing I had disappointed myself.
But when I finally received my lovely Eden Street postcard in the mail, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the woman who attended last year’s Write Away had no such expectations of me. At the retreat, she learned to be kinder to herself and to embrace the joy of writing. To push aside the self-doubt and to believe in herself.
And in her letter, this is what she told me. I thought I’d post it here as a gentle reminder to myself and to other women writers who have ever doubted themselves and this path they’ve chosen.
Now that it’s been a year since Write Away, I just wanted to remind you of the graces you received at the retreat. Remember the JOY you felt at meeting other women writers like you. You are not alone.
Remember the JOY of actually writing. You write because beyond the pain and the frustration, the whole process brings you unrivalled joy and satisfaction.
Most of all, be GRATEFUL that you get to do this and that you were called to this path.
You are BLESSED. You are BRAVE. You are BEAUTIFUL. You are LOVED.