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Living the Intention in a Room of Your Own (AROHO): Writing on Georgia O’Keeffe’s Ghost Ranch

All I wanted was a week to write without getting up to walk the dogs, sit in traffic, clean the kitchen, or answer the phone. I had work to do and it wasn’t getting done. A writer friend told me about AROHO (A Room of Her own). She said it was a writing organization for women and that I should apply for their retreat on Georgia O’Keefe’s “Ghost Ranch” in New Mexico. It sounded fantastic. It was fantastic. I didn’t know that it would change my life.

It has been over one month since I left the desert but I’m still adjusting. It’s a good life here in NY, but I miss sunset colored mountains and breathing in readings and workshops all day long.  I bonded with more women in one week than I had during the past decade. If you met them, you would see how such a thing can be possible. We were in synch.

I took a small group poetry workshop with Evie Shockley.  I’m a fan, so of course it was very exciting.  Go read, The New Black, for poems that know how to balance history, present culture, and innovative form. At the workshop, we sat on couches that reminded me of dorm room furniture.  Everything spoken was private. All I will share is that by the third day, I knew I was going home a different kind of writer. The work was getting done.

Poets and writers need to excavate, pick at scabs, and let the wounds stay open during that window of time when words are charged with such necessary depth. AROHO allowed me and many others to stick with what we needed to write about, to “go there,” but still feel safe.

I flew home with a short stack of inspiration:  Janet Fitch‘s White OrleanderSlice of Moon by Kim Dower, Some Girls: My Life in a Harem by Jillian Lauren and Leslie Ulman’s Progress on the Subject of Immensity.  On my e-reader, Mary Johnson‘s An Unquenchable Thirst and Paint It Black by Janet Fitch. Nikki Loftin’s, The Sinister Sweetness to share with my students in library class. More books arriving in the mail: Olga García EcheverríaEllen McLaughlinNicelle Davis, Page Lampert. And that’s just scratching the surface. Holy macaroni.

Sometimes I wonder if I dreamed the whole thing. As I go through my summer archives, unpack what I learned, what I wrote and read, what I want to read and write, I know it’s not a dream. This is what it feels like to live the intention.

How do you live your writer’s intention?  

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