Coming Home: Crossing Oceans for the Guild’s Summer Conference
Let me explain. I attended my first conference at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York in 1990. I was 56 and had started writing more or less full time at 50 when the older children left home for university.
I was welcomed by such a warm, supportive group of women writers that after one or two days of phenomenal workshops, I knew I had found a home away from home.
Ever since, come summertime I return ‘home.’ This is absolutely what it feels like. In mythic language I have found my tribe. So many of these women became my friends and each year I make new friends, truly women with whom I share, women who listen, who encourage, who create.
The second summer, I offered a workshop in writing the personal essay. When I wasn’t ‘teaching’ I went to other workshops, all different subjects, opening doors to new creativity, to new worlds. Indeed, I even dreamed my first book. I was sharing some of the gold I was finding in Jungian analysis and woke up one night with a whole book in my head: the title, several chapter titles, each one a dream image. The book Looking for Gold was published three years later here in Switzerland.
The summers succeeded one another. The conferences challenged me to grow in different directions. The workshops and all the discussions at meals, in the halls, in the evenings opened horizons: inspiration to deepen my writing, ways to find agents and publishers, experience to share back in Geneva, and a commitment to take my voice into the world around me.
I kept returning. Never considered not returning! I moved from offering workshops about the personal essay to workshops about memoir. I saw the genre as a window into a life. Just as a house has many windows so has a life. I had by then published four memoirs, four windows into my life. I loved the sharing during the workshops, learning about other women’s lives and aspirations.
Now after several years, the Guild has moved the conference to Allentown, Pennsylvania. It will be our fourth summer at Muhlenberg College. The staff and setting receive us beautifully — from a friendly reception desk run by students, to setting up rooms for all our events, to catering to us with excellent meals.
And all this time I continue to journal, not every day, maybe just once or twice a week. I journal to keep discovering my deeper self. To realize how grateful I am to the Guild for all these years of stimulation and friendship. My most recent book, Writing Toward Wholeness, Lessons Inspired by CG Jung brings together spirituality, psychology and the arts.
I have found nourishment for all three at each Guild conference. Come join us this summer! I look forward to welcoming you.
Susan Tiberghien is an American-born writer living in Geneva, Switzerland. She holds a BA in Literature and Philosophy (Phi Beta Kappa) and did graduate work at the Université de Grenoble and the CG Jung Institute of Zurich. She has published three memoirs, “Looking for Gold, One Year in Jungian Analysis” (Daimon Verlag, 1997, “Circling to the Center, A Woman’s Encounter with Silent Prayer” (Paulist Press, 2001), “One Year to a Writing Life” (Da Capo Press, 2007) and most recently, “Side by Side, Writing Your Love Story” and “Footsteps, In Love with a Frenchman” (both Red Lotus Studio Press, 2015) along with numerous narrative essays in journals and anthologies on both sides of the Atlantic.