Months in review: Jul-Sep 2019

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” -St. Augustine

I have been so lucky as to read many, many pages of that book. And it is traveling that now disrupts the regular flow of my blog. It’s a good problem to have. Many people are not able to take time off work to visit family or for pleasure. I know how fortunate I am.

These past months, my writing career (such as it is) has been marked by an upswing in attendance of events, not performance of my own work. Open mics have been replaced with workshops, conferences, performances, and readings. And I have submitted my work for possible publication, I trend I hope to continue with more frequency.

On September 27-29, I attended the 16th annual Power of Words conference at the Casa Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale, Arizona. The conference ran Friday night to Sunday afternoon and though there were accommodations, I stayed in a hotel off-site with a patio by the pool and palm trees.

I cannot think of a more opposite landscape to Minnesota than Arizona. The saguaro cactus grows tall and wild. It is rattlesnake season. There was a welcome break in the weather, a much cooler 89F then the previous months. The comment is often “it’s a dry heat” (i.e. not so bad) but I had to drink water and apply lip balm non-stop… That dry air leeches the moisture right out of your mouth.

The renewal center is situated in the middle of Scottsdale. I can imagine a time when they purchased their 23 acres far away from the city… and the city followed them and built resorts and walled subdivided housing around them. In addition to the community buildings, housing, and conference rooms, they have a large garden. The garden has many paths, flowering cactus, stations of the cross, a flock of running quail, rock labyrinth, and rocking chairs under the small trees.

Friday night consisted of registration, dinner, and the opening keynote and panel presentations. There was also a night owl open mic, but travel is wearing, and the bed beckoned. Saturday was a full day, twelve hours packed with writing workshops, keynote speakers, open mic, and a knockout performance- “A Land Twice Promised” by Noa Baum. Sunday had two more writing workshops, lunch, then the flight home.

There were many writing workshops to choose from. I attended these:

  • “Walking Fields and Streets to Find Poems and Stories” -Loren Niemi
  • “Heroic and Healing Journeys for Contemporary Times” -David Kopacz
  • “Writing Memoir for Empathy and Inquiry” -Rachel Gabriel
  • “Aim for Astonishing: How Writing from Your Photo Stream Awakens Healing” -Kelly DuMar

The conference was founded in 2003 at Goddard College and taken over by the Transformative Language Arts Network (TLA) in 2008. In their own words, “The TLA Network exists to support and promote individuals and organizations that use the spoken, written, or sung word as a tool for personal and community transformation.” Although TLA is based in Pennsylvania, the conference moves to different areas across the nation. TLA membership and online classes are open to anyone.

I am glad I attended and will consider attending again. No surprise, it was quite different from software conferences I have attended in the past. By the end of the day on Saturday, the creative writing part of my brain felt as if it was stuffed with cotton. I could not get my words out. I needed to free write badly but was too jammed up with emotions and thoughts to express anything. I just enjoyed some wine on the hotel patio and slept. In the morning, I skipped the first workshop and journaled in the garden with the lizards and butterflies and desert landscape.

Which produced at least part of this entry. And in this past quarter, I posted six blog posts, all travel logs of the wild summer road trip with my mother. The previous quarter, I posted seven essays and three poems. What is missing is the travel logs for the August road trip to the north shore of Lake Superior and the continuing roads trips home to Peoria, IL to visit and help my mom.

I commissioned a drawn portrait which I now use as my profile picture. The audio recordings of my essays are very time consuming and have not gotten much attention. I am reconsidering where and how often I will produce them.

Otherwise, I keep trucking along. October to April is the time I turn inward and spend the hours indoors writing and reading. The first snow of the season arriving today helps. But indeed, I have learned to love Minnesota fall/winter for the excuse to focus on my writing and reading projects without feeling guilty about missing nice weather. And I will be traveling a lot in the coming months so blog posts will be reduced to twice a month.

Sorry fans… Thank you for being fans!

-Copyright C.M. Mounts, October 2019

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