The workshops I took on poetry and nonfiction opened my eyes to some things I needed to know about myself as a writer. My writing isn't emotional enough! Who knew, right? But hear this: I was sitting in the workshops, feeling all proud and junk of what I'd written (and it was good; don't get me wrong) but I realized that my fellow writers and my instructors were moving each other with their words, even shocking each other, in a way that I wasn't. Their stuff was raw; mine was magazine ready.
I'm not saying that my job has everything to do with it, either. I think I've put up a wall around myself and my writing when it comes to emotional intimacy for a long time. I can be real in my tiny purse journal or my regular journal at home, but I knew I was getting ready to read the fruits of our workshop prompts to everyone in those conference rooms. Thus, I'd groomed my stuff for consumption. There was even a point when I realized I'd written in the 3rd person while everyone else wrote in the 1st! The prompt was to talk about a moment in my life that hurt me deeply -- clearly I was protecting myself from it.
Anyhoo, despite learning that my writing has a long way to go, this trip empowered me. I drove down the dark, scary, winding mountain roads and stayed on the side of a cliff all by myself. I mingled with strangers and navigated through Maggie Valley, Little Switzerland and Black Mountain without friends. Every time I go on one of my little adventures with just me, myself and I, I get a little more used to the fact that I might be alone forever. And it might be all right.