pens or pins? that is the question...

What's one to do when the heart and hands enjoy words and fabric, the pattern of paragraphs and quilts to an equal enthusiasm? To solve my dilemma I'm writing the print that stirs me and sharing the journey of blending fabrics into quilts and wearables, the discovery of old--be it quilts or friends, and the pleasures of today. Come...have a visit with me.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Writer's 5 Days Away

              Once a year the Writer's League of Texas hosts a popular educational get-away to Alpine, Texas. Now Alpine, for those of you that haven't found it, is the best August climate in Texas.  Breeze and 80 degrees is a nice contrast to Austin and 100+ degrees with humidity.
The small community of Alpine also enjoys popularity as a key entrance to Big Bend National Park, home to Sul Ross University and an eclectic array of shops and eateries. Oh, and I must add the Alpine Book Store and its' annual Book Writer's Festival.

For those of us that love words, books and composition, the Alpine retreat is paradise.
For five days we study a topic of choice from one of four faculty, take notes, write and read 'til we drop. Last, we review each other's work, critique and offer marketing suggestions and visit until the clock sadly clicks finished.

This year three of us loaded up and headed west. My sister Fran, a League writer friend, Kayla and I packed enough computer stuff, paper and food into my small SUV to last a month--all for our short five day excursion. We had agreed to live dorm style (bring our own bedding, food, etc. for this "cheap" girlfriend writer's camp). En route we recalled endless memories of the past retreat. Hopes of changes and non-changes made for non-stop conversation. (After all, we ARE experienced retreaters.) One after another, we anticipated certain expectations to this grand get-away.

For example, Alpine mornings start early (or we will be disappointed) with the sound of the Amtrak train whistle announcing its' early weekday arrival. Our minds rush past last years dorm experience  to remind us that the shower is sure to flood or the toilet be contrary. We suspect luke-warm showers and laugh about three women getting ready--in one bathroom. We tell stories about our mother's teaching us politeness and sharing. Promises of "no-problem, I take my shower at night" seem to solve the potentially crowded issue.

Arrival is on schedule. We get our room keys and unload luggage, tote bags of books, computers, food and bedding. Fran and I find our bunk beds (did I say bunk?) as high as the sky, with NO ladder. Quick discussion gives me the bunk bed -ugh!, because I don't have to get up at night.?? Should I pretend?

Moving on, we unpack French roast coffee, paper towels, plastic bowls and spoons. Kayla organizes all in dress fashion while Fran stuffs the refrigerator with homemade soup, boiled eggs, home-grown tomatoes. I check the computer outlets.We're ready.

One night's rest and a walk across the Sul Ross campus, up two flights of stairs; now to find room 203. It feels invigorating. I can't wait. Fran is with me; Kayla hurries to another building. My energy is high. In walks the teacher. Even a chance we can be freshman again? I reminisce.

DAY 1 --dajavou of dorm life 1970, almost repetitive in it's basic furnishings, humble room, poor lighting. However, one thing is different. This time Fran did her homework on a computer. Ah...great changes.

Kayla, the bestest of friends--another bonus of the workshop. We found each other on last year's League carpool list! This is our second year together. We plan many more. And I might add, give Kayla a word challenge. She can handle it in A+ fashion.

And friends Chris (left), food writer extraordinare' and Carol (right), memoir collector of the best of Big Bend family stories.

Total craft, total consumption in the possibilities and total enthusiasm found in classroom and writing time kept us off the street. I'm a student at heart, so hours in a classroom felt just fine. I embraced the continuous discussions on the essence of writing--the style, the sequence, point of view, even the chapter heading possibilities. Constant references to must-read books, websites and blogs worth the time kept my pen busy. Absorption is what I like about these retreats. The real world gets out of the way--one week in student style with a bit of age over the brow.

So, here's my summary. If you are a reader, a wanta' be writer--grab your boots, your pencil (or computer) and come out next August (or hit your local writer's scene sooner). You won't regret it!

My favorite read: Try another Julia Cameron book, her second after Artist's Way. Walking in this World, 2002. Julia is a master in helping us balance our creative juices and desires with the daily.

My favorite scripture: Psalm 23 The Lord is my Shepherd...
and add Max Lucado's wonderful hope and encouragement using this favorite Psalm. His book:
Safe in the Shepherd's Arms.

Til next time,