Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

Writing, Teaching, Language, Landscape, Life

Alchemists—Changing the World into Words


Aspens and Sky ©Dawn Wink

As I drove home from the Women Writing the West Conference in Golden, CO, I looked up and saw this. I pulled over as soon as possible and ran back to take the photo. Aspens and Sky © Dawn Wink

“The true alchemists do not change lead into gold; they change the world into words.” ~ William H. Gass

I’ve spent much of the past month with alchemists, alchemists changing the world into words. Fall always tends to be a time of book events and writing conferences, as if the turning of the leaves from emerald to gold somehow also ushers in all-things-literary. 

Me at the incredible Billings Public Library.

Me at the incredible Billings Public Library. I want to spend the winter there!

The South Dakota Festival of Books (along with the accompanying buffalo, birthdays, and burned trucks) came to a close with a lively radio conversation with Karl Gehrke of South Dakota Public Broadcasting. He jumped right into the heart of Meadowlark in ways that others skirt around! I knew that Mom and Dad were in town that day and parked somewhere listening to it live. They called two seconds after the interview ended. Apparently, I did okay. Here is our audio conversation about Meadowlark: Great-grandmother Inspires Novel.

Alchemists—One of the greatest gifts of writing is the community of other writers that one joins. A community of people interested in life, in fine details, in humanity in all of our reality and vulnerability. It is an amazing experience to be surrounded by writers. Energy fills the air. Even more of a gift are writers who support one another, lift up the spirit and work of others. This sense of kinship, of a deep understanding that we all spend the majority of our writing lives alone at a desk, often in the pre-dawn or late-night darkness. Perhaps because of this, we become downright giddy when we’re together! 

Me, Susan Tweit, Julene Bair, Page Lambert

Me, Susan Tweit, Julene Bair, Page Lambert

This past month has left me in awe of the passion, perseverance, and well-honed skills (because it takes all three) of writers.  Three incredibly gifted writers and I gathered at the Women Writing the West conference to share our experiences in writing, “Place as Character.” Two of my co-presenters wrote exquisitely about this. I share their words and images. Susan J. Tweit lifts our time together beautifully, “Community, not competition” in her Writing, Community, and Women’s VoicesPage Lambert conveys the spirit and of our experiences in her Heart of Place, “For each of us, and with each new story, Place will be different. At its heart will be everything that has ever been born, lived in, or died in that place, everything in the past, everything in the present, all energy— every sound, smell, ray of sun, every shadow, every sorrow, every joy.” 

Drive home. San Luis Valley, CO.

This opened before me my drive home from from the Women Writing the West Conference—San Luis Valley, CO.

With Mom, High Plains Book Awards

With Mom, High Plains Book Awards

Mom and I came together in Billings, MT for the High Plains Book Awards. I sat on  the Best Woman Writer panel with other writers of the Great Plains, including Canada. We realized that community often runs North-South, rather than East-West. We found more in common with one another, than with people of our own country on either coast. Mom and I had wonderful slumber parties!

The Tony Hillerman Writers Conference brought together writers of years of experience with writers attending their first conference. Joe Badal (The Lone Wolf Agenda) said of the conference,Anne Hillerman (Spider Woman’s Daughter) and Jean Schaumberg’s spirits of kindness infuse this entire conference.” Joe, Susan Tweit, and I spoke on “The Art of Blogging.” Joe writes of Everyday Heroes, Susan of Restoring Land and Community. As a voice, we spoke of following your passion.

Luci Tapahonso and Anne Hillerman, Tony Hillerman Writers Conference

Luci Tapahonso and Anne Hillerman

Luci Tapahonso (A Radiant Curve) spoke of “Saad: Luminous Beads of Wisdom.” Luci stood at the podium, “”Saad—words, story, a system of language. A clear, luminescent string of beads. The beads represent words, song, stories. We are made of saad: stories, songs, prayers.” Magical, powerful, a world unto itself in the room. In the Diné tradition, a child’s first laugh is honored, celebrations follow, blessings made. Imagine such a world…

So, these past weeks have been a world of words. Alchemists changing the world into words. To distill all learned would be to focus on the essence of community, kindness, perseverance, and never letting go of one’s dreams.

Chilean writer Isabel Allende describes writing as, “A constant exercise in longing.”

May we never stop longing.


Nest in Fall.

The turning of the leaves. Nest in fall.


Author: Dawn Wink

Dawn Wink is a writer and educator whose work explores the beauty and tensions of language, culture, and place.

20 thoughts on “Alchemists—Changing the World into Words

  1. Stephany, what wonderful news about your book! Thrilling news! Please let me know how/when I can order a signed copy. I would love to be first in line–especially after our shared journey in its writing! I loved seeing you at the South Dakota Festival of Books. Such a gift to be able to spend time together in-person. Congratulations, cheers, and hugs on the publication of Mother as Emotional Coach! Does the world ever need more of them. Blessings and hugs, Dawn

  2. Dawn, I always choose your e-mail first, as I know it will be deep and wide. This one was no exception. Great seeing you at the South Dakota Festival of Books. Mother as Emotional Coach: 8 Principles for Raising a Well-Adjusted Child is at the printer! I’m so excited to see it….thanks for your part in it.

    As always,

  3. Beautiful words and stunning photographs–thank you, Dawn.

    • Page, from a queen of beautiful words and stunning photographs. You never cease to inspire me with your ability to spin the experiences and images of the world into beautiful prose of depth. Gratitude for you.

  4. Dawn, thank you again for more inspiration at the Hillerman conference and from this blog. I enjoy following your postings on early morning candlelight, writing, your garden, your family, your writing and life’s blessings. I am also grateful for any chance to see you in person. Once again, that conference was a gift.

    • Vicki, so wonderful to connect again at the Hillerman Conference! I am so grateful to know we share these passions for early morning candlelight, writing, garden, and family. Such a richer path when shared. Gratitude, gratitude.

  5. ¡Ondina, como he pensado en ti! Vente a mi trabajo, amiga. Nos hace falta un buen charla y abrazo! xo

  6. Adentro vieja. Un saludo de repente te voy a salir por tu trabajo ya que si maoma no viene la perrita busca. Jajajajaj

  7. I do envy you your community – ever growing – of word whisperers. Thank you for sharing your joy.

  8. Always appreciate your efforts!
    And always mean to say so!
    Lately I’ve been working on memoirs of years in Arabia & in Paris & the insights about ‘place’ are true, no matter which place we are probing our memories of & our attachments to, on behalf of our readers as well as ourselves.
    Many more years, many more words, many more blessings.

    • Dear Cynthia, a memoir of your years in Arabia and Paris! Oh, do I look forward to reading. I just popped over to your website (www.thewisdomwheel.com) and what a gift to experience the wisdom there. And in Spanish! I love the photo of you with the stones of the wisdom wheel. I am working on a memoir now, too, Love Stones. Here’s to our shared journeys. Many blessings to you and thank you so much for connecting.

  9. Dear Dawn, “swept into the deep interior of the heart and mind”. Dawn, this is precisely what your words do for me (thanks to Meredith Machen for this) and I thank you for your words for which I am so grateful. Comadre, becoming the stories we tell ourselves. How very true (thank you, Susan) which leads me to think that we must be very careful about the stories we tell ourselves. It is no wonder, Dawn, that the stories you share, like yourself, are so beautiful.

    • Dear Lindy, this resonated deeply for me, as well—”…we must be very careful about the stories we tell ourselves.” Such an important reminder on the power of story. So often, in my experience, we understand the power of story from and in others and are perhaps not as mindful about the stories we tell ourselves. Here’s to mindfulness around this. Let’s be mindful together, dear Lindy. Much love, Dawn

  10. Dawn, you’ve certainly been busy and you set out this morning to accomplish more and apparently you have. I don’t have the skilled words the others have posted but I appreciate what you do and thanks for sharing! And just when you thought you have been busy, here comes the holidays!!!!! Dan

    • Dan, hello to you! Yes, these past weeks have been so full, I have not had the opportunity to share these experiences and learnings. Today was the day! And, I even got a long run in amidst writing. Thank you ever so much for taking the time to connect. Oh, dear… the holidays! I have done nothing yet, of course. Ah, on to the next chapter! Smiles and gratitude, dawn

  11. Thank you for sharing the beauty of sharing and caring. It’s so remarkable to be able to transplant ourselves into special places through the vicariously experiencing the nuances of special places and memories. If writers didn’t spend that time all that time alone making the words become flesh, readers would not be swept into the deep interiors of the hearts and minds. Write on. I for one see life differently after each of your posts and after each book I read.

    Meredith Machen

    • Meredith, I’ve read this again and again—”If writers didn’t spend all that time alone making words become flesh, readers would not be swept into the deep interiors of the hearts and minds.” Thank you so much for this and for taking the time to connect. Isn’t this the essence of reading and writing. Deepest gratitude to you. And hugs!

  12. Comadre, “We become the stories we tell ourselves.” I love this. Thank you so very much for this wisdom. This quote is going above my writing desk, where only treasures inhabit. Let us remind ourselves, and each other, of this wisdom through the years. Much love to you.

  13. So beautifully said. As always, comadre, your words inspire and clarify. We are blessed to have the gift of your vision and your words. Mary Pipher wrote, “We become the stories we tell ourselves.” No wonder then, that you radiate such inner and outer beauty….

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