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.