Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Mepkin Overview

I am back from Mepkin Abbey, pleasantly tired, a bit anxious about jumping back into regular life.  So, let me record some brief observations, and perhaps in later posts, I'll dive in more deeply.

--The worst part of the drive was the first part.  It had been raining all night, and there was still a lot of water on the road, while it was still raining--vision disrupting water from all directions.  It was also kind of foggy.  I was grateful for the relative lack of traffic and happy that I'd left at 3:20 a.m., precisely so that I wouldn't have traffic issues.

--What a different landscape at the end of the trip.  How I love the Cooper River!  What gorgeous trees along its bank!  How many interesting buildings!

--The weather was not at all what had been forecast.  We had lots of rain on Saturday, but it was a pleasant experience.  On Sunday and Monday morning, the area was swaddled in deep mist, but it was eerily beautiful.

--I got a lot of writing tasks done.  I focused my time on typing poems into the laptop and on restructuring my poetry manuscript.

--I had gotten word in Oct. 2011 that a publisher was possibly interested, that my manuscript had made it to a final stage of judgment.  And then I heard nothing, and nothing, and finally, more than a year later, rejection.  I haven't been able to look at or think about that manuscript--until this week-end!

--I took out roughly 24 poems, and I added roughly 27 poems.  More on all of this later.

--I have been going to Mepkin for 10 years with the same 2 friends.  How wonderful to have this gift of friendship and time.  We spent a lot of time taking long walks around the grounds and talking deeply.

--I have other friends in the Lowcountry and in the rest of S.C.  I feel guilty about not being able to see all of them in the same way during the same trip.

--I have an idea for a different project.  One of my friends wants to get back to better writing habits.  I plan to create a weekly inspirational e-mail with photos from Mepkin.  As I send the e-mails, I'll be collecting them into a manuscript.

--Why does it seem so much easier to write at Mepkin?  There are plenty of distractions, after all:  worship 6 times a day, friends nearby.  Is it because I don't have to think about chores like grocery shopping, meal prep, laundry, etc.?  Is it because I'm away and that focuses my brain so that I don't have a wasted trip?

--Several years ago, at Mepkin Abbey, I put together the manuscript that would become my second chapbook.  I do have a superstitious belief that the work I do at Mepkin is blessed in a different way than the work that I do elsewhere.

--As I drove away yesterday morning, I turned on the news to hear that Phillip Seymour Hoffman died.  I thought about how often my driving trips are marked by some kind of shocking news.  Several years ago when I returned from a Create in Me retreat, I heard of the death of Osama bin Laden, and roughly a year later, when I returned from the retreat to plan that retreat,  the news about the attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi began to trickle in.

--It is a long car trip, but I find it so rejuvenating to return to Mepkin Abbey.  I hope I can keep doing it.  Let me hope even bigger:  it would be nice to return more often than once a year.  We shall see.

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