Escape and find yourself

February 04, 2007

News Flash! We’ll be talking about this event live or on the Web on KINK-FM on Thursday, February 8, at 9:00a.m. Tune in to 102FM in Portland, or listen on the Web. See you on the airwaves.

Sometimes, serendipity is the best travel guide. I had never heard of The Ocean Lodge  in Cannon Beach, Oregon before the manager, Wendy, contacted me several years ago. She had read The Lightkeeper which takes place in the vicinity, and was inspired to create a theme weekend for guests, called “Romance and a Storm.” Haystack RockMy job was to be author-in-residence for a long weekend, chief Eater of Chocolate Waffles and head letter-writing guru. Since Valentine’s Day was approaching, I decided the writing exercise would be “How to Write a Love Letter.”

For this writing exercise, the only assumptions were that a) everybody loves someone and b) everybody can write. In our diverse room full of people, we had women of all ages, a couple of well-behaved young husbands (any guy who would attend a workshop called “How to Write a Love Letter” automatically falls into the “well-behaved” category) and a kid who was more interested in the chocolate-syrup pump in the breakfast room than any stinkin’ love letter.

In the back of the room was a burly man in a plaid flannel shirt, a red knit cap on his head and lace-up boots, with his sleeves rolled back to reveal beefy forearms. He held his pen like a blunt instrument. He was easily more than six feet tall and had the body of a linebacker. So I’m thinking, this better be good, because this guy could hurt me.

The writing process for a simple love letter starts with brainstorming and visualizing. I encourage people to picture their loved one (sweetheart, mom, child, pet, anyone they like) and to jot down some key phrases and feelings that come to mind. Ultimately, the goal is for them to put their heart on paper in their own unique, sincere way. Everyone went about it with gusto. I looked at Paul Bunyon in the back of the room and was amazed to see him weeping. He wrote and wrote, longer than anyone else, his big shoulders shaking as his pen moved steadily across the page. Then he blew his nose, gruffly thanked me and ducked out.

I found myself envying the recipient of that letter.

The Winter LodgeThe Ocean Lodge tends to have that effect on people. It’s a place so close to the edge of the world that you feel as though you can touch infinity. People who don’t ordinarily write things pick up pen and paper. Unartistic people grab or pastels and sketchbook, and non-athletes find themselves taking a beach walk or hike with a camera. That’s what an Ocean Lodge Event is all about. I have one coming up later this month.  

Please join me for a reception, booksigning and writing workshop in this magical place, February 23-25.

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| 7 Comments
  • It sounds like I am one of the lucky few who will be able to attend and, even better, my mother will be joining me. I’m sure we’ll talk, talk, talk during the entire drive down and back. Thank you, Susan, for giving us this wonderful opportunity to spend time together and to meet other word artists in such a magical place.
    You did say chocolate was included, didn’t you?!

  • I absolutely love Cannon Beach. It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen along the Oregon coast. I’m looking forward to the weekend, although I may only be able to make it for Saturday’s session (and the food, of course!).

    Lisa
    Vancouver, WA

  • Susan, this sounds and looks magical! I live way up in northern Canada and, although I can’t make it for the February event, I’m going to keep this in mind and try to come for one of your future events at Cannon beach. The place there looks yummy! I’ll have to bookmark this right away.

    http://www.dianeschuller.com
    Alberta – Canada

  • I’d love to be at your book signing!
    I went to Cannon beach many years ago — your photos make me want to go back again!
    These are the times I wish I lived on the mainland and could take a long weekend somewhere different without flying!
    Then it snows.
    And I change my mind! *smile.*
    But a comfortable chair in front of a crackling fire has its appeal.
    Note: Will have to re-think winter…

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