Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Writers' Retreat

Writing away at the writers' retreat.
I am so very grateful for contributions to my Indiegogo campaign -- which is almost at an end. Thanks to my supporters, I was able to attend the Green River Writers retreat at the Kavanaugh Center in Crestwood, Kentucky, this past weekend, where I had access to solitude for writing, to writers who offered constructive criticism for my poetry (which is going into the memoir), and an opportunity to read part of my memoir to a discerning audience.

I'll never read that piece in front of an audience again. The part I chose was the third section, where my mother dies. The part about breathe. I actually lost my breathe while reading the piece aloud. One fellow writer thought -- just for a second -- that I was acting, then realized that I was almost in distress. But, I pulled it out of the hat; although, today I'm exhausted. Reading that one particular portion of the memoir wore me out as much as swimming the English Channel (not that I can swim, mind you).

I haven't been able to attend a Green River retreat for three years. The last time I attended a retreat, my mother was in apparent good health. It was a constant marvel to me how the past two years flew by, how quickly a story can become a dark memory that's so easily tucked into a corner. By forcing myself to get out, reconnect, and read and write, I'm forcing myself to connect to my mother's death over and over again. I can take it...I hope, though, that none of my perceptions are warped in the process.

This is why it's so important for me to write now, when memories are fresh.

Other highlights this past weekend:

1. My laptop is biting the dust. Crap.
2. Met George Eklund at the retreat and learned about some of his creative poetry processes.
3. I reconnected with several friends who also lost spouses, parents, and friends over the past three years.
4. I connected with new friends who also lost spouses, parents, and friends over the past few years.

One writer friend lost 29 friends -- some close, some not-so-close -- over the past year. We can't figure out if all these losses are normal at our ages, or if we're actually transitioning into a Stephen King novel. The cancer losses are breathtaking.

You can view some photos I took at the conference if you want to feel more connected, too. I'm into black and white photography right now, as you'll learn. I think someone took a photo of me along the way, but I'm not certain. I do have witnesses.