Thursday, October 21, 2010

Back to Old Shoes and Porridge

I've been away to the North Carolina mountains for a quick get-away, a retreat to plan a retreat. Along the way, we had wonderful mountain apples and gorgeous fall colors and cooler weather. What a treat.

For many years, I've been going to Create in Me, a retreat at Lutheridge (a Lutheran camp near Asheville, North Carolina) which explores the intersections between spirituality and creativity. It was only recently that I could be part of the planning team.

When the retreat first started a decade ago, the planners were mostly local people who would come over to Lutheridge for lunch and planning. They'd do this several times a year, and the retreat got done.

Now most of the planners are coming from much further away. Last year, for example, my spouse and I took some vacation days and managed to get to one of the planning meetings. I think we win the award for furthest distanced travelled for a lunch meeting, but I'm happy for an excuse to escape to the mountains any time.

This year, we tried something different. We had a retreat to plan the retreat. We met for 2 days, and we actually got it all planned out. In past years, at each planning meeting, there was a fair amount of time spent covering old ground, since each planning meeting had a slightly different participant list. Last year, in addition to the planning meetings, the camp director and I spent more hours than I want to count in e-mailing, both each other and all the retreat leaders. Hopefully, some of the hardest parts are now over: the choice of focus, the choice of what workshops and art stations we should offer, that kind of thing. The coordinating will take some time, but this will be the second year that I'm a retreat coordinator, so hopefully it will be easier than last year.

On the last morning of the retreat, one of the women said to me, "Well, it's back to old shoes and porridge." It's a phrase her mother often used at the end of vacation. I thought that was a wonderful metaphor that described both daily life and life on vacation/retreat. I wrote it down immediately, and you should feel free to share it as you wish.

Now it's back to preparing for my chapbook publication, which I hope to write more about here. I've been impressed with various postings from poets who have special somethings for people who come to their readings, and I'll ponder that here. I'll write more about trying to get blurbs, the first time I've had to do this. I'll write more about how much technology has changed since my last chapbook publication and what that means: more opportunities (book trailers on YouTube! Cards of all sorts that I can create myself) and more work that I feel like I should do.

I'll also write about all the treats that were in my mailbox when I got home! Kelli Russell Agodon wins the prize for nicest packaging of a book to be sent through the U.S. mail. I am now ashamed of the ways that I completely overlooked those possibilities for my first book mailing, and I resolve to do better when I have the next book to mail. I also had some poem publications waiting for me.

Now it's back to notifying all the journals to whom I had sent some of these poems that the poems are no longer quite as available. Of course, I think that every poetry packet I sent out since August included at least one of the poems which will now be part of the chapbook. If a journal still wants to publish the poem, it's cool with me. Given the realities of the publication world, however, I can't guarantee that the journal publication will happen before the chapbook publication. All of that is out of my hands.

1 comment:

Shefali Shah Choksi said...

i really like that phrase!