Just back from a week at the first Kindling Words West, where I spent my days walking and writing amid the Georgia O’Keefe cliffs of New Mexico’s Ghost Ranch, and the nights talking with other writers who were doing the same. My first day or so there especially, I could barely stand to be indoors amid that landscape, so I would write outside, staring out at those cliffs, listening to the wind and the scuttle of lizards over paper-dry bark, until I hit a need-to-think point, then walk until I hit a need-to-write point, repeat as needed. Later, I also spent stretches writing in my room, or in the dusty old unused building I found with a view out onto an arroyo, windows open, singing along with my mp3 player as I wrote.
Most of all I reconnected with the fact that the act of writing, of striving to tell a story as well as I can, is sacred. The rest–the whole business of marketing and selling and building a career–are important, and I don’t take them lightly. But in the end, the writing, the commitment to craft and story and getting better–that’s what this is all about, and they matter deeply.
Being in the company of other writers who clearly felt the same way–and who gave each other the time and space to create, yet were there to talk to and support one another when we came up for air out of that creating space–made for a lovely retreat.