I like to take a tooth pick and throw it into the forest and say "You're home!" ... Mitch HedbergThis is a good way to describe how I felt at Mt Herman Writer's Conference last week. Santa Cruz is home. The ferns, bracken, eucalyptus and redwoods make a powerfully pungent memory scent. This combination is unique to the area. Childhood memories flooded. My blog's title is a tribute to the history I have there. Almost paradise again, in a fresh way.
For the first time in my life, I mingled with a huge group of strangers and felt at home among them. Like I fit. Belonged. I kept thinking the well producing the tears would finally dry up. It never did. A silly smile and leaking eyes became my signature. Happy, grateful, amazed tears. There must be a dried, salt crystal trail where I walked.
There were seasoned authors, newbies and wannabes. Agents, editors and publishing reps. VIP's and invisible people working behind the scenes. The food was made with love. The complicated schedule honed to manageable. There were old timers who made it welcoming once again. Some had been coming for 26 years. The friendships between them were sweet to observe.
Everyone had a story to tell. Adultery, intrigue, abuse, memoir, fantasy, sci-fi, poetry, burn survivor, war survivor, etc. It was interesting to hear them pitch whatever they were writing.
My major morning track, the intense one - was with Steve. Not knowing the who's who list, it wasn't until the end that someone whispered he was like THE SIMON COWELL of the publishing world, right underneath Jesus in due reverence. I'm glad I didn't know. But now that I do, it would be a high honor to write something he would enjoy reading. His heart and mind were acutely attuned. He took us deeper. Offered words of life.
Charlie Peacock and his wife Andi were the special treat. They are lovely people. Charlie is one of the last warrior poets. Easy to imagine him in a kilt and sword. Troubadour. They sort of embrace the L'Abri lifestyle, in Nashville. What they offered was so encouraging to life and to writing. He too, offered words of life.
The last day, I talked with a 90 year old woman. She had a raggedy story filled with missteps and betrayal, mixed with vibrant living in between the pain. She used a cane, walked shakily, and carried a smile around that lit up the room.
She was still writing poetry and cramming it unread under her bed. She still wanted to start her memoir and redo a dramatization series on video.
I'll remember her forever. Her story did not yet have a happily-ever-after ending. But it did, because it will. She is finishing well, pen in hand, still writing her story.