Karma is a true blue bitch.
It is the perpetuation of abuse, down through the generations, pain begetting pain, monsters creating monsters.
The monster - no matter how hard you try to rein him in - will out, because the monster is truth, raw and pure.
These powerful if enigmatic words were written as part of daily exercises by Minnesota resident Michelle Halverson, one of the participants of the first Writer’s Retreat of San Buenas, this past January 28 through February 4.
Michelle’s quiet, humble, friendly if somewhat guarded façade disguises a tormented heart and a complex personal history, sublimated and revealed in her fine work.
What it doesn’t hide, at least not for long, is her indomitable, creative and resilient spirit.
We all write for different reasons, and we have different stories to share. What bonds us as people and as writers is the common human condition. Our individual experiences vary, but the unifying factor is always the fact we are flawed mortal beings struggling to make a mark while we’re here, and express ourselves accordingly.
Each of my “pupils” (though I considered my workshops more like interactive, open forums which I led but did not dominate) came to Costa Rica for their own private reasons as well. But each left with a renewed sense of their artistic selves via the instructive courses conducted by retreat co-founder Ezekiel Tyrus, whose masterful yet totally organic workshops focusing on daily discipline encouraged all participants to engage not only with each other, but their hidden inner muses.
Postcards from the Edge
Michelle is currently working on an autobiographical novel inspired by her troubled childhood and other challenging life experiences, which will resonate strongly with many readers, I believe, due to their universally relatable themes. I got the idea the main purpose for attending the retreat – other than the fact she’s the wife of Chris Halverson, the brother of the our host in Costa Rica, Minneapolis entrepreneur Nick Halverson – was to find her voice, even if she’d been carrying it inside of her all along.
Sometimes you just need to change your immediate environment, if only temporarily, to realize you’re already home, because wherever you go, you take your dreams, hopes and fears with you. Tapping into that portable realm is why this retreat was so rewarding for Michelle, and for all involved.
Many authors face this daunting task throughout the courses of their careers, even veteran professionals. So if you’re a writer, don’t feel alone in this struggle. If the retreat taught all of us anything – and we each benefitted greatly, on many levels – it’s that while the act of writing is one of solitude and even loneliness, we are surrounded by fellow travelers on similar paths, dealing with the same detours, roadblocks and dead ends, each arriving at unique destinations.
Right now I’m reading a work of erotica Michelle sent me. I will say right now for all to hear that her voice is loud, clear, bold, imaginative and fluid. It’s just a matter of finding the courage to share that voice with the outside world, in a manner that is both professionally viable and personally honest.
I have no doubt Michelle will continue to hone her craft and improve as a writer. But for my money, she’s already a success, just for having the fortitude to make this journey, inside and out.
PHOTO: NICK HALVERSON