Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

Landscape, Language, Teaching, Wildness, Beauty, Imagination


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Today’s the Day! MEADOWLARK Book Launch

Flowers and notes for reading

Flowers and notes for reading

Today is the day! Meadowlark’s book launch at Collected Works at 4:00 today. 

A soaking desert rain.

A soaking desert rain.

We woke this morning to a soaking rain. A soaking rain accompanies a birth in Meadowlark. It seems only right that a soaking rain accompany the novel’s birth. 

Mom and Dad arrived safely yesterday after driving 15 hours through the unbelievable rains in The West. Mom said there were hours when the windshield wipers couldn’t keep up with the rain and they crawled along the highway, following the white lines  of the road.

They arrived and we went to Wynn’s volleyball game, Grammie and Bop Bop dressed appropriately in the St. Michael’s school colors of royal blue and white! Luke was at soccer practice, and Wynn had her own cheering section with Grammie, Bop Bop, Noé, Wyatt, and me.

Friday Night, Family Night - Wynn's cheering section!

Friday Night, Family Night – Wynn’s cheering section!

Wyatt, Grammie, and Bop Bop

Wyatt, Grammie, and Bop Bop

I thought of all of us in the living room last night after the variety of sporting events – Wyatt in karate, Wynn in volleyball, and Luke in soccer.

Wynn playing volleyball.

Wynn playing volleyball.

Wyatt karate.

Wyatt karate.

We curled up in chairs and on couches last night, kids all still in their uniforms, adults had slipped into comfortable cloths, the rain fell softly outside. I sat and thought of the journey of Meadowlark and felt such gratitude. 

In the midst of all yesterday, I did buy my first new pair of boots in years for today’s reading. I love them. 

New boots.

New boots.

I think back on the journey of Meadowlark and can hardly believe this day is here. We’ll take lots of photos and video and I’ll share all here. 

The rain continues to fall—bringing Meadowlark into the world. 

Thank you and thank you for sharing this journey.

With love,

Dawn

 


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…It’s about Illuminating Life on Earth

Writing about trauma

Writing about trauma

While I had never read this quote before, at some deep, deep level, this gives language to why I wrote Meadowlark

“Wait a minute, Dawn,” a friend who is reading the book told me. “I thought Meadowlark was going to be all bluebells and Laura Ingalls Wilder. I have to set it down sometimes.”

No, not all bluebells

As people write me and tell me of their experiences reading Meadowlark, what I’ve slowly become aware of is how the story takes on a life of its own for each reader, and touches people in ways that I never imagined as I wrote.

What I’ve discovered as a woman and human being walking in this world, is how story taps into the essence of human experience and the power inherent in this release. “Dawn, I read the first two pages and had to set it down and go for a walk,” wrote one reader. “I’ll come back to it, but it will be on my own time.” The sheer humanity of story, in both joy and pain, touches our own humanity and scars. I experienced this as I wrote and I hear now of people experiencing this as they read. The gift that has come from this is a reaching out, a recognition that we are not alone, and conversations about experiences that have long been silent. 

“Meadowlark sings a song for all of us, helping us reclaim those parts of ourselves we’ve allowed others to take. We all have that story, in various ways,” my friend, Kenna wrote. “There is a little bit of Grace in all of us.”

Great-Grandma Grace's coffee grinder, circa 1913.

Great-Grandma Grace’s coffee grinder, circa 1913.

What I’ve discovered as a writer is the very reason that Meadowlark was rejected by publishers—for its lack of following the traditional prairie and Western narrative—appears to be the aspect of the story that resonates most deeply with readers. After several rejections, I tried to write that book, I tried to change Meadowlark into what the publishers wanted. It was a writing disaster – all felt flat, forced, and fake. 

After about a year of this, I threw my hands up, told myself that I would listen and write the book as the story revealed itself to me. As soon as I did this, it was as if this vessel of words, story, language above me opened, ran down my arms, out my fingers, and spilled onto the page. During this time, I often turned to Grandma Grace’s coffee grinder, I ran my fingers around the rim and along the smooth wood—and listened. I wrapped my hands around the knob at the top and thought of Grace holding this same piece. What was she thinking? What did she feel? What was happening in her own world and the world outside? I had no idea if I would ever find a publisher, but knew that this was the story that wanted to come into the world. 

We create and recreate story as we read. What is true for the reader taps into some, perhaps unconscious, thread of experience and truth in that vessel of thought, experience, and imagination the writer draws from. When that experience involves trauma, “…it is more than simply documenting experience—it’s about illuminating life on earth. It’s about transforming tragedy into art, and hoping that somehow that piece of art may help someone else whose gone through something unbearable and who doesn’t yet see that there truly is a light at the end of the tunnel.” 

With Margaret Schimke Pyfer

With Margaret Schimke Pyfer

My own story last week included Seattle.  Seattle, and my time there, was a wonder. In addition to working with an incredible group of laborers around the ideas of cultural diversity, language, and gender, I had the opportunity to reconnect with a dear friend from high school and my cousin, both of whom I hadn’t seen for years.

Seattle – For this prairie and desert woman, There. Is. So. Much. Water! My dear friend, Margaret Schimke Pyfer, collected me from the airport, brought a picnic, loaded us onto the ferry, and we were off! I felt as if we were in a movie. We saw what we were sure were dolphins swimming in front of the ferry. Margaret later said they were porpoises. Porpoises or dolphins, they were magical to see skimming along the surface in front of us. 

With cousin Janet Little.

With cousin Janet Richardson Little.

Grace left many memories. My cousin, Janet Richardson Little, also Grace’s great-grandaughter, and I talked about this when we were together last week in Seattle. It had been at least 16 years since we’d seen each other. She and her family invited me to beautiful dinner and we spent the evening talking books, life, kids, and Grandma Grace. 

A time of deep gratitude and roots. 

I came home to enjoy the chairs that that Noé transformed in the previous week. I’ve had these chairs for decades and they’ve spent the past several years in our back yard, tired, worn, chipped and peeling white paint. He’s transformed them into these pieces of happiness. Wait until you see what he’s doing with the walls!

Yes, a light at the end of the tunnel…

Chairs

Chairs


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A Blessed Busy

First page of Meadowlark

First page of Meadowlark

We read to know we are not alone. —C.S. Lewis

Wild prairie rose.

Wild prairie rose.

The past few weeks have been a swirl of blessings. I read one time that Barbara Kingsolver said,  “To have my first novel published was like singing in the shower alone, only to realize after that there was a room full of people listening to me.”  Meadowlark’s release, has thrown all windows and doors open on my intensely private journey of the last decade. The journey is richer shared. 

Story connects us to one another and to the world. Christina Baldwin describes this journey beautifully in Storycatcher: “Story—the abundance of it, and the lack of it—shapes us. Story—the abundance of it, and the lack of it—gives us place, lineage, history, a sense of self. Story—the abundance of it, and the lack of it—breaks us into pieces, shatters our understanding, and gives it back over and over again, the story different everytime. Story—the abundance of it, and the lack of it—connects us with the world and outlines ourrelationship with everything. When the power of story comes into the room, an alchemical reaction occurs that is unique to our kind: love or hate, identification or isolation, war or peace, good or evil can be stirred in us by words alone. The power of story is understood by the powerful, yet the power of story belongs toall of us, especially the least powerful. History is what scholars and conquerors say happened; story it what it was like to live on the ground.” 

I received a note from one of our dear family friends, with this photo from around 1975. I treasure this. I remember the moment vividly, as we kids listened to a rousing rendition of “Jack of the Beanstalk,” by one of the dads, Frank Lunetta. Mary Main wrote, “From listening to the story, to telling the story.”

Listening to story.

Listening to story.

This intensely private journey that is now out in the world, I’ve discovered, gives voice to others’ own intensively private journeys in ways that I could never have imagined those years that I spent writing alone. This has been the greatest gift—to share the journey of ‘what it was like to live on the ground.’ 

Here, some images of this shared journey:

The day that for so many years I thought might never happen. The first time I touched Meadowlark

First touch

First touch

Noé arriving home to celebrate after our first copy of Meadowlark arrived.

Noé arriving home.

Noé arriving home.

Books to personalize and mail. As I do this, my mind returns again and again to all of the moments of the past years when I doubted this moment would ever happen. Then, I pinch myself, give a prayer of gratitude, and I reach for another book. Each book I sign, a private letter between the two of us.

Books to personalize.

Books to personalize.

Meadowlark’s first public reading, hosted by Heidi Chase.

Meadowlark's first reading.

Meadowlark’s first reading.

Heidi surprised me with the world’s best cake. I had no idea this was even possible!

Surprise cake

Surprise cake

I marvel at the blessings that have come from a time of deep crisis. Two worn and tattered quotes were taped to my refrigerator during this time, “When you’re going through hell, keep on going,” and “I may be changed by what happens to me. I refuse to be reduced by it,” by Maya Angelou.

This is what I’ve learned from this experience, not only for myself, but the potential this holds for each of us. It is a time now of a blessed busy. There are not nearly enough hours in the day. The kids are back in school, the new semester ready to begin, and all that goes with each. 

Flying with Ravens, Carey Moore

Flying with Ravens, Carey Moore

The “Raven’s Time: Wildness and Beauty” online class through Story Circle Network started last week. Oh, what a gift to share this time with incredible, thoughtful, wild and beautiful people sinking into these ideas!

This first week, we’re exploring the ideas of water, language, and story. It has been a time of deep learning for me, as well, as I try to texturize the online environment. I’ve learned how to post videos within the course. Somehow, this makes me feel as if my students and I are all together.

Early-morning composing of Raven's Time class.

Early-morning composing of Raven’s Time class.

Here are a few videos, of Introduction and of the writing process of clustering and reading from Anne Lamott’s brilliant essay, “Shitty First Drafts.” 

Water, Language and Story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=yeq7VCSnyFo

Clustering and Shitty First Drafts (Part 1): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1J1fBVzlSU

Clustering and Shitty First Drafts (Part 2): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRgNyCj8yp4

As I write this morning, I prepare to leave tomorrow to give a workshop on Cultural Diversity and Awareness to people in the construction industry in Seattle. Yes, it is indeed a chapter of blessed busy, with the focus on blessed. Wynn Elizabeth turned 14 on August 14th. When Wynn was a little girl, she loved tiaras, which she pronounced to rhyme with Chihuahua. Clearly, she needed one for her party for old time’s sake.

Wynn, 14 years old

Wynn, 14 years old

Wynn's party

Wynn’s party

Rain on morning glories and black hollyhocks.

Rain on morning glories and black hollyhocks.

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“Raven’s Time: Wildness and Beauty” Online Class

Raven, Chimayó, NM, Dawn Wink

Raven, Chimayó, NM, Dawn Wink

Hello dear ones!

I am thrilled to be teaching “Raven’s Time: Wildness and Beauty” online this summer through Story Circle Network. I’ve written and presented quite a bit about these ideas in the past few years, and this is the first time they’ve been offered online.

I love these ideas. I love talking about these ideas. I love the conversations and connections that come from talking about these ideas. 

Through readings, poetry, music, photography, and textures, this class is designed for any who want to swim in these ideas, ponder what they might mean, and if you’re a writer or artist, how they might enrich your own life and/or writing. If you are a lover of life and ideas, please join us! My hope is to create an experience rich in ideas, images, and experiences for all. I’d love to share this time together.

Story Circle Network just posted this piece about the class. It is my pleasure to share with you.

Love,

Dawn

Class Title: Raven’s Time: Wildness and Beauty

Instructor: Dawn Wink

Class Term: August 12-September 9, 2013 enroll in this class

This class explores the beauty and wildness of place through the symbolism of natural elements: including ravens, water, skulls, turquoise, textures, beauty, and wildness. This course reveals these dynamics and seeks to bring understanding through wisdom from the landscape and natural elements. Will focus on content and the craft of writing.

Class Description

Rio Grande, near Taos, NM, Dawn Wink

Rio Grande, near Taos, NM, Dawn Wink

This class explores the beauty and wildness of place (cultural, linguistic, political) through the symbolism of natural elements: including ravens, water, skulls, turquoise, textures, beauty, and wildness. Raven’s Time is grounded in the understandings of beauty as social justice and wildness as freedom. This course reveals these dynamics and seeks to bring understanding through wisdom from the landscape and natural elements. Will focus focus on both content and the writer’s craft, through interactive and engaged writing prompts and activities. At the end of this class, students will be able to: bring improved writing skills to their own writing projects; address how the landscape can inform our understandings about contemporary events (cultural, linguistic, political) with informed and profound understandings; move forward with their own writing projects with renewed energy and craft. Instruction/communication will take place through email and the course shell. All reading materials for the course will be provided by the instructor through the format of the course.

Outline

Throughout this student-centered course, participates are expected to participate fully in all readings and discussions. This is a brief, intensive course and we’ll make the most of it. This course is taught in an interactive, engaged, and critically-reflective perspective. Student participation is essential for all participants to learn not only from the instructor, but also from each other. Students are expected to post in the discussions a minimum of 3 times/week—more is encouraged. Written assignments will include weekly written assignments and a final written portfolio, based on the specific writing goals of the student.

  • water-flowing-over-rocksUnit 1: Voice of Life: Reflections on Water, Language, and Story. Flexibility. Destruction. Strength. Nourishment. Gives or takes away life. All are commonalities that language and culture share with water. The power of water underlies all. Agua es vida. This week explores the unique dynamics of language, the intimate relationship of language and culture, and how the properties of water and the southwestern landscape can inform our understandings about language and linguistic human rights.
  • Veins of Turquoise, photo by R. Weller

    Veins of Turquoise, photo by R. Weller

    Unit 2: Veins of Turquoise: Migration and Immigration This week explores historical and contemporary migration and immigration in the Southwest through the lens of turquoise. For thousands of years, turquoise traveled the vein connecting the Mayans and Aztecs with the people of the Southwest. The Pueblo people say turquoise steals its color from the sky—the stone has been spiritually, economically, and aesthetically significant to indigenous people since A.D. 300. What can we learn from the historic role of turquoise in the Southwest, nepantla pedagogy, and how can this inform our understandings of current immigration policies?

  • Sugar skull, photo by Wynn Wink-Moran

    Sugar skull, photo by Wynn Wink-Moran

    Unit 3: Skulls and Textures: This week explores the symbolism of skulls and textures of language through historical and contemporary lenses. From Mayan crystal skulls, the skull mountains of the Aztects, the scattered bones of livestock herds, the sugar skulls of Día de los Muertos, to the human skulls of immigrants under the desert sun, we’ll explore how skulls reflect culture. This week also poses questions about the hierarchy of languages around the world, linguistic human rights, and the global role of english. What can we learn from the symbolism of skulls and rich textures of the land to inform our understandings of culture and language?

  • Unit 4: Wildness and Beauty Altars create a reciprocal relationship with the mystery and the Divine. In this class, we’ll explore living as if the world, its landscape and people, are a living altar. What are the roles of Beauty and Wildness within our living altar—and how do we create and honor these in our lives?

Student Skills, Equipment, and Time Required

Intermediate/Advanced writing and computer skills. All documents submitted in Microsoft Word. Internet and email necessary. Time Commitment: 3 hrs/week

Tuition/Fees for this course

SCN members: $128. Non-SCN members: $160.

Instructor Bio

Dawn WinkDawn Wink is a writer and educator whose work explores the tensions and beauty of language, culture, and place. Her first book, Teaching Passionately: What’s Love Got To Do With It?, co-written with Joan Wink, was published in 2004 by Pearson. Dawn is an Associate Professor at Santa Fe Community College, her essays and articles have appeared in journals and magazines. Dawn started a literary, educational, and artistic blog community, Dewdrops, in 2011. Her novel, Meadowlark, published by Pronghorn Press, will be released in July 2013. Dawn lives with her family in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Visit her website & blog.

Rio Grande, near Taos, NM, Dawn Wink

Rio Grande, near Taos, NM, Dawn Wink

Please come and dip your feet into the waters of these ideas. 


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Anne Hillerman on Writing and Her Dad, Tony Hillerman

Anne Hillerman surrounded by Fiction Writers

Anne Hillerman surrounded by Fiction Writers

My Fiction Writing class was blessed last week to share our time with Anne Hillerman. Anne talked about her own literary life, and her father, best-selling mystery writer, Tony Hillerman. Author of eight books, Anne’s latest work, Spider Woman’s Daughter follows the adventures of Joe Leaphorn, Jim Chee, and Bernadette Manuelito as they track a would-be cop killer, travel to Chaco Canyon on the trail of a murderer, and discover intrigue in the world of ancient Indian art and artifacts.

You can understand why we were all thrilled to share our time together. With incredible warmth, insight, and humor, Anne shared some of the lens through which she experiences her literary world.

Spider Woman's Daughter

Spider Woman’s Daughter

Anne began by reading two scenes involving the same character, Bernadette Manuelito – one from her father’s The Sinister Pig and another scene from her Spider Woman’s Daughter. The difference in Bernadette’s response and experiences highlights one of the aspects Anne found rewarding about writing this novel, “What was fun about writing Spider Woman’s Daughter is these two characters, Bernie and Jim, who had always been in Joe’s shadow, now step fully into their own right. Rather than side-kicks, they are multi-dimensional characters who bring out whole other potential in the series and stories.”

Anne shared more about her dad’s relationship with Native Americans.

“My dad had a special relationship with the Native American people. He grew up in a small town in Oklahoma and his family was one of the few Catholic families in town. Those boys were allowed to go to an all-girls Native American Catholic school. This experience had a profound influence on him. He was the only non-Indian and the only boy. As a non-Indian and one of the few boys, it taught him what it was like to be different. He later said that his classmates would forgive him for not being an Indian, but not for being a boy. He served in WWII and watched the different treatment that the Native American veterans received from their tribes when they came home. We didn’t have the language for Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome back then and overall, it was expected that veterans take care of this themselves. Dad watched as tribes received the young men and tried to bring them back into balance, into wholeness, the Navajo idea of  hózhǫ́ beauty, harmony, and interconnectedness with the natural world. He won lots of awards, but he said the one that meant the most to him was the Navajo Tribe’s Special Friends of the Dineh Award.

The land was such a part of my dad’s books. Often, reviewers would be negative about scenes where all of this action was happening and we were about ready to catch the killer and then—everybody had to watch the sunset. These were always reviewers from New York City or Boston or somewhere in the East Coast, places where they couldn’t imagine our skies and our sunsets that literally stop you in your tracks.”

Anne Hillerman

Anne Hillerman

What is your writing schedule? asked a student.

“I have a golden retriver, and she is my alarm clock. First thing in the morning, we walk and then come home and I have a cup of coffee with my husband, Don. I start writing at 9:00 and I try to write until noon. Even if it’s awful. I try to keep the that morning time sacred. If things are going well, I will try to work well. It’s especially important if things aren’t going well, to be in the presence of those characters where something can happen.

Do you do very much research, and if so, what are your methods?

I love research. Sometimes it is so much easier than writing. It’s so easy to be distracted. I am writing the next book and in the part that I’m working on now something bad has happened and they found a necklace. I start to research silver smiths of Navajo silver and then I get pulled into reading about Turkish silver and before I know it, I’m deep into the history of the Ottoman Empire. When there is something that I need to research, I highlight it and leave it alone to keep writing. Then, on those days when things are not going well, I go back to it. The internet is great, but I find there is a lot more juice in actually talking with people. Research is good, but it’s just so tempting. I try to stick with the story and find where the holes are and stick with those.

Could you go over your revising process?

Actually, I love revising. When I start, I re-read the previous two pages. I learned from my dad that the first chapter always changed, as the story evolved, things changed. So, I try to to get stuck on that first chapters. Some people spend twenty years on the first chapter! Just write it and keep going. When I’m done with a piece, I share it with my writing partners, other professional writers who can tell me the truth. They can say, “What were you thinking?” or “You’ve got it.” Each writer has their own quirks. They don’t focus on that. My writing partners focus, for example, on a character who is not fully-developed. Even bad characters need to have something about them that we can connect with somehow. Then, I let it sit for six weeks. And that is so hard! It’s worth it when I go back to it, though, as now I can tell where the writing works and where it is soft.

My dad did a lot of writing in his head. He knew the start he knew the end, he knew the main points. He would think about it a lot, and then sit in front of his typewriter and write what he heard. He would sit playing spider solitaire. Mom would say to me, “Don’t bother your dad, he’s working.” The part of his brain involved in the details of solitaire, playing with plot.

Anne Hillerman, SFCC, Fiction Writing

Anne Hillerman, SFCC, Fiction Writing

In terms of your own writing, what was it like living with a writer, your dad? 

We moved to Santa Fe when I was a young child. When I remember our conversations at the dinner table, it had to do with what he was reading or what my mom was reading, that words are important. He was a journalist then and didn’t have much time. Even though he didn’t have a lot of time, he was already working on his first novel The Blessing Way. I was always interested in writing, but because my dad was so successful, I was determined not to go into the same field. So I took many classes at the University of New Mexico and I had loads credits in all kinds of areas, and I finally needed to decide what was going to be my major. At that point, I decided that even though my dad was a writer, writing is what I really loved to do and I decided to study journalism. Journalism, so I can make a living as a writer. It gives you an excuse to learn about a lot of other things.

Do you enjoy reading what you’ve written?

If it’s good! Sometimes I’m really surprised, and sometimes I just want to crawl in a hole.

What surprised you about writing Spider Woman’s Daughter?

The humor. I didn’t realize this book would have so much humor.

How do you push through those bad writing days?

It’s a special product called butt glue. I tell myself that what I’m writing are only impulses on the screen. It’s only words. I just have to do it. One thing journalism teaches you, you can’t wait for inspiration.

Please tell us more about the Tony Hillerman Writers Conference.

Faculty Badge

Faculty Badge

The Tony Hillerman Writers Conference happens this year November 7-9, 2013. The conference celebrates both the art and craft of writing, as well as all that goes with a publishing life. There will be editors, publishers, and agents. One of the highlights is Friday evening’s “Writing with the Stars.” Writers submit the first page of their manuscripts and an author and agent read on-the-spot and share their thoughts. Dawn will be there presenting.

(Yes, I will. I’m presenting, “Will this Book Ever be Published?” I’m thrilled to contribute to the conference. I may make a pin out of this faculty badge and wear it as a brooch.)

A final question, Do Joe Leaphorn and Bernadette Manuelito stop to watch the sunsets?

Yes, they do.

~ ~ ~

As someone who loves Southwestern sunsets, I breathe a sigh of relief. Thank you, Anne, for taking the time to share your insight, experiences, wisdom, and spirit. A blessed day for us all.

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Dewdrops Quotes

brian_carnation_dewdrops

Dewdrops

The world globes itself in a drop of dew.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson 

A bit of beauty for your day.

I’ve been collecting quotes about dewdrops over the past several months. It’s been a journey in beauty. I find myself reading some of these quotes again and again, and their wisdom very much guides how I feel about our Dewdrops community. I hope you enjoy.

Longfellow dewdrop

Longfellow dewdrop

Every dew-drop and rain-drop had a whole heaven within it.

                                                     ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 

When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with other stars all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty.”

                                                      ~ John Muir 

Hubble starburst

Hubble starburst

The dew, “Tis of the tears which stars weep, sweet with joy.

                                                      ~ Philip James Bailey

And every dewdrop paints a bow.

                                                       ~ Lord Alfred Tennyson

In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.

                                                      ~ Kahlil Gibran

Drop of dew on a life

Drop of dew on a leaf

Man’s life is like a drop of dew on a leaf.

                                                      ~Socrates

Let your life lightly dance on the edges of Time like dew on the tip of a life.

                                                     ~Rabindranath Tagore

Dewdrops

Dewdrops

Words are things, and a small drink of ink, falling like dew upon a thought, produces that which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think.

                                                     ~ Lord Byron

I have learned so much from this wisdom shared.

I also wanted to share with you that I received a surprise email, since the last time I wrote. I belong to a wonderful community Story Circle Network: For Women with Stories to Tell. Story Circle Network wrote to tell me that our Dewdrops community has been selected to be featured in their national eletter and we’ve been selected as a Star Blog. A true honor. I am beyond thrilled. Thank you and thank you, Story Circle Network.

A lovely day to all,

Dawn

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Meadowlark – Publication Announcement

I Am Who They Were by Ashley Gilreath

I Am Who They Were by Ashley Gilreath

You know how writers are…they create themselves as they create their work. Or perhaps they create their work in order to create themselves. ~ Orson Scott Card

Grace and baby, circa 1911

Grace and baby, circa 1913

Ten years ago I had an idea to write a book. The stories that swirled through my childhood about my great-grandmother, Grace, lifted into a single question, “Mom, what about Grandma Grace and Paul?”

She stopped and looked at me, the threads of time that bind past, present, and future tightened. “I don’t know,” she said, and smiled. “But, I’ve always wondered.”

I wrote a book to find out.

What I could not have known at the time was the journey that writing Meadowlark would take me on, how those threads of time would draw so close that the supposed distinctions between past, present, and future smudged together like pastels on a porous page, creating new colors with equal elements of each, until I’d lived in these blended spaces for so long they became my reality. I could not have known in that moment, that Grace’s life would ultimately save my own.

Meadowlark was the book that should never have been written. Too much happened in my life as I wrote. Too much upheaval, too much transition, too much pain. And yet, I couldn’t stop writing. Like Gretel following the bread crumbs, I stumbled through the forest of my life, focusing on that next bread crumb that Grace left for me so many years before.

Not long after I started writing Meadowlark, for the first time in any of their lives, Wyatt, Luke, Wynn, and I were apart every other week through shared custody. One friend describes the time separate from her kids, “like walking around missing a limb.” My own experience echoes the thoughts of Elizabeth Stone, when she wrote that to have a child was to “…forever have your heart go walking around outside your body.” It feels wholly unnatural to be apart from your children. Crippling, really. How does one function when your heart is beating elsewhere?

Well, initially one doesn’t, come to find out. I failed miserably at even minimal functioning when my kids and I were apart. The separation and thought of a future living like this felt unbearable.  One night I called a wise, wise friend, Lynn, who’d lived this already, and said, “I can’t do it. I can’t do it. There is no way in hell I can do this.”

“Yes, you can,” my wise, wise friend. “Use the time that you’re apart to create the best life possible for you all.”

In the terrifying and gut-lonely space created every other week when Wyatt, Luke, and Wynn left, I turned to Grace. When my mind and heart constricted into dark hardened kernels, Grace held each until they loosened through her story and expanded to allow air and light. I believed in Grace and her story, when I had lost all faith in my own. “Use the time that you’re apart to create the best life possible for you all,” sifted through the darkness. The night the kids left I crumbled, and the next morning I’d get up, hear Lynn’s words again, take Grace’s hand, and write—a concrete way to create a better life for us all.

Prairie

Prairie

Ten years of writing, editing, rejection after rejection from various publishing houses followed. I kept a now coffee-spattered, water-stained card with Winston Churchill’s quote above my desk, “Never, never, never give up.”

My literary agent and dear friend, Elizabeth Trupin-Pulli, believed in Grace. “Dawn, the rejection letters all follow the same vein—’The writing is beautiful, the story is incredible, it is just not the market of our publishing house.’ It’s the prairie. They don’t seem to get the prairie.”

The prairie herself is a primary character of Meadowlark. Anyone who has lived within this landscape knows that it can be no other way. The prairie is a visceral experience who demands primacy through sheer force of personality. We continued to look for a publisher who understood her.

Writing with ear plugs and scarf.

Writing with ear plugs and scarf.

During this time, I wrote to my dear friend and award-winning author, Laurie Jameson, and asked if she might give the manuscript a glance and write a blurb that I could share with future publishers. Busy with her own writing, she graciously agreed. I bundled up the hard-copy manuscript and sent it off to Texas. That quick glance turned into Laurie dedicated herself to months of editing suggestions to lift Grace’s story. Laurie’s wise suggestions honed and shaped the story to its essence. It involved months of editing for me, usually sitting at the kitchen table with ear plugs and a scarf wrapped around my head, as now teenage Wyatt, Luke, and Wynn, my new husband, Noé, and our highly-exuberant German Shepherd, Clyde, moved around me. Editing again at this stage was as much fun as rolling naked through broken glass. I knew it my heart that it had to be done. I trusted Laurie and I trusted myself. And there were the glimpses of beauty in the process, when I found myself so caught up in the prairie that I would lift my eyes and be disoriented to find myself in the high-desert of Santa Fe.

I made Noé promise that if anything happened to me, if I was randomly hit by a bus, that he would somehow make sure this book one day saw the light of day. “What?!” he said. “Don’t even say that.” I meant it, and he promised.

I continued to look for publishers who might understand the prairie. I looked through the list of novels that had won the WILLA Award in my writing community Women Writing the West. Through this process, I found Pronghorn Press and submitted a query. Editor Annette Chaudet understands the prairie. Her own exquisite editing eye demanded two more rounds of intense editing and writing. These editing suggestions created scenes that I now cannot imagine the book without.

A toast!

A toast!

Yesterday I received a signed contract from Pronghorn Press and can now announce that Meadowlark will be published in June/July 2013. I sat holding the contract in my hand, staring at it, not saying anything. I didn’t trust myself. The book that should never have been written, rejected time and again by NYC publishing houses, will soon see the light of day. Noé and I raised our glasses to toast Meadowlark, Pronghorn Press, and life.

I love to read about writers’ histories with writing. I especially love those writers whose publishing career began in their 40’s, Madeleine L’Engle and Isabel Allende top the list. These stories gave me hope through the round after round of rejections. Madeleine L’Engle wrote of receiving a rejection on her 40th birthday, putting a towel over her typewriter, sure she should just give up, putting her head on the table to weep, only to realize that in her head she was writing a scene of a writer receiving a rejection. She threw the towel off and wrote, and didn’t stop writing for the next 50 years. Isabel Allende’s first novel The House of Spirits was published in her early 40s. It started as a letter to her grandfather who was dying and whom she could not visit, because she was living in exile outside of Chile. She wrote it in her closet, after her family went to sleep at night. I just celebrated my 45th birthday. In the fable of the tortoise and the hare of my writing life, I am in all ways the tortoise.

The first half of my life has been one of searching and surviving. As I enter the second half of my life, I fill with a sense of deep gratitude for the place where I now find myself, the elusive place I had given up hope to ever find. A place of family, stability, and home. A place of peace. A place where I can at last settle in deeply to love, live, and write. I feel at last there is traction under me, where for so long my wheels spun in the air.

A surprise celebration.

A surprise celebration.

One never knows what the future will bring. This is perhaps the one truth that life has taught me. So for now, I’ll just enjoy the moment. Yesterday evening after receiving the contract, Noé and I were each at work on our own projects. I had started this piece to share the news with you, and Noé was outside putting together some shelves for our garden tools. He said it was like someone tapped him gently on the shoulder, “Hey, what are you doing? This is a moment to celebrate!” The threads of time binding past, present, and future tightened again. I know that shoulder tap was Grace or Paul. Minutes later, Noé and I were dressed, and out the door. I dressed so quickly that after running gel through my hair, I realized it didn’t smell like it usually did. I looked at whatever tube I’d grabbed, and realized that I had just styled my hair with shaving gel.

The waiter at the restaurant asked what we were celebrating, and later surprised me with a gorgeous ice-cream dessert, complete with whipped cream, strawberries, and a candle to honor my book. We never know what life will bring. This moment that for so many years I thought might never come still feels somewhat unreal.

The sixteen-year-old bride who lived a century ago continues to take me by the hand. I’ll follow.

Thank you, Grace. For everything.

* * *

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Artists Among Us

Dawn Wink

Dawn Wink, pastel from Reclaiming the Divine Feminine

I recently had an experience with an artist and her work which conveys the essence of an artist’s spirit, so powerfully demonstrated by each artist featured in this piece.  Tina Le Marque Denison and I, along with our friend, Kate Greenway, taught the course Reclaiming the Divine Feminine together at The College of Santa Fe a number of years ago. An interdisciplinary course, we each took the lead for our  area—Tina taught art, Kate taught content, and I taught creative writing. This separation was more theory than practice, as we wove the three areas together, with each of us moving from instructor to student fluidly throughout the course.

This experience of working with Tina and Kate with these ideas of art, writing, and myth was one of sheer magic. Throughout the course we made adobe, painted, created dolls, worked with pastels, wrote, delved deeper and deeper through readings, art, and writing into the ideas of the Divine Feminine.

Tina Le Marque Denison

Tina Le Marque Denison, Mujer de Nuevo Mejico

Life unfolded, as it does, in ways that saw The College of Santa Fe close and took Tina, Kate, and me in different directions through life and work, though always staying in touch. I walked into my friend Rachel’s house a few years ago and saw the above painting Mujer de Nuevo Mejico and was immediately drawn to her. I looked closer, I recognized Tina’s signature. “That’s my friend, Tina!” and I told Rachel all about Tina, her work, the magic of the course, and the power of Tina’s artist’s way of walking through the world. This piece had been found rolled up in a closet on campus somewhere, where it had been the previous years, before Rachel’s husband discovered her, with no idea of the history or artist.

A year later, Rachel showed up at our home, bearing this gift. “She needs to be with you, Dawn.” Mujer de Nuevo Mejico now hangs in our dining room, where I share coffee with her by candlelight each morning. I’d been thinking about Tina a lot recently and called her. Through the sheer busyness of life, Tina and I hadn’t talked for the past couple of years and I discovered life has taken unexpected turns and there are reasons why she was suddenly so present in my mind. I told her of Mujer de Nuevo Mejico‘s journey to my home. In light of the turns of the recent journey, she said, “Imagine her finding you, Dawn, after all these years and right now during this chapter in life.” And Tina gave the piece to me as a wedding gift, since I’d married since we last saw each other.

The journey of this piece, the connection that crosses time and space, and gift of the spirit illustrate the mystery and power of art. It is my great honor to share the beauty and words of each artist. It was a journey of awe and humility to compose this piece. From my heart,  thank you to each artists for bringing your unique beauty to our world.

Tina Le Marque Denison Tucson, Arizona   My lifelong focus as an artist has been to create work that is intensely personal.  My imagery comes out of my deepest self through my hands. Those are ancient aquifers that connect to the greater collective unconscious. I dive down inside, and dredge up symbols and memories that link many cultures, many times. I bring the old myths, stories, and icons back up to the surface and re-vision them for contemporary times. I make work about women, about our lives, about our struggles and our strength, about our extraordinary wisdom and our ways of knowing. I have been able to use my art and my position as a female artist as tools for social change for women. With this in mind, I am making my art more publicly visible.

There is an inner component to my work that delivers a wiggly sensation to a certain sensitized kind of viewer. This is not to say that those who do not feel the wiggly sensation are “less-than.” But there is something built into the work that is beneath the picture plane. When a Hopi makes a kachina that is meant for their family, the doll is imbued with a spirit. It is not a decorative object for sale to strangers. You have to be aware that there is a spirit residing in the doll. That is also the case with the work that I make. There is something residing within the work, and there are some people who feel that when they engage with the work. It is not their imagination.

Women have a spectacular genius for core expression. We know the realm of the subjective. It is our landscape. But subjective imagery is like childbirth. Not everyone can pull it off. Not everyone wants to watch. Art with undisguised emotional content can fail. It can apologize, whine, beg, or run away at the critical moment. However, when it succeeds it is altogether glorious, like shooting the rapids. It’s messy. It’s also juicy, slippery; moving, shimmering. The art I make is about life, death, and everything that happens in between. But mostly it’s about what happens under the surface.

Tina Le Marque Denison

Tina Le Marque Denison

Tash Terry and Elena Higgins, Indigie Femme, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Elena Higgins and Tash Terry, Indigie Femme

Elena Higgins and Tash Terry, Indigie Femme

Tash Terry — My music and writing is about life and all the twists and turns that go with it. Music comes to me through the spirit of spontaneity and if I am so blessed or prepared, depending on perspective, I will catch it on paper, or even “Quicktime” on my Iphone and have the ‘saved moment’ to work with when time and inspiration permits. I also believe in collaboration and have been very blessed to work with elena from New Zealand with our various lineages and backgrounds to merge the Northern and Southern Hemispheres through our music as Indigie Femme.

I think we have so much to learn from one another and if we can share it through music and other forms of the creative process then we have an opportunity and privilege to become a more compassionate world and there is more hope for peace and love on a global level.

Elena Higgins—  My art means EVERYTHING to me – the air that I breathe, the colors in the rainbow, life itself and all that it gives! Once believing in my voice and then the vision to share my gift on world wide stages, a message of love – self love to love others, the manifestations and holding these visions has been unfolding into realities!  I love the collaboration with Tash who is very creative and very talented. Our vision & messages in the music are similar! It is a blessing to walk, to believe and to manifest through sacred prayers!!

I love and have a profound respect and appreciation for ‘the arts’ because of the unlimited possibilities it provides through its creators! This helps me to continuously step up to my unknown realities as my personal, cultural, religious, educational, societal conditionings & ideals has caused great sufferings. This has been true because it goes against my vision and ‘what I think it should look like and what should happen!’ The essence of totally letting go and trusting relentless in the universe as it provides abundantly is what I am now seeing, through lots of practice! The exploration in getting here (to the USA) was worth it and I have to continuous stay tapped into source! I am grateful for all the lessons and all those who come into my life!
Without stepping up to my vision to do my art, I would never have experienced life changing incidences, including meeting wonderful people, and seeing incredible places which has bought great wisdom through presence. Therefore, ‘art/my art’ means EVERYTHING to me!
Indigie Femme

Indigie Femme

Jennifer Lyn King

Jennifer Lyn King

Jennifer Lyn KingPrague, Czech Republic  Art and photography for me are a natural extension of daily life, for the moments that take my breath away. Somewhere deep inside, I feel I must try to capture the glimmering moments of everyday beauty.

Painting and photography and writing spring from the need to express the light and the dark and the contrast between the two. It is through these mediums that I am most able to be who I am, and I am grateful for the chance, each time I sit down to create again. 

Jennifer Lyn King, Amalfi Coast

Jennifer Lyn King, Amalfi Coast

Delight Edgell

Delight Edgell

Delight Edgell, Cascabel, Arizona  The stroke in ’95 left me at home down the river and isolated from my passion for teaching Science. Designing the necklaces I would have to wear in my classroom. Eventually I presented them to potential customers which filled the need for intellectual stimulation, creative expression, and contact with people.

I could never have started the business without Pete’s willing support and am proud I can now include his interest in and artistic response to the beauty of science.

Delight Edgell

Delight Edgell, Solar System necklace

Stephanie Paterson

Stephanie Paterson

Stephanie Paterson, Turlock, California  Scrap quilting is a love and the process means the world to me.

The woman who taught me said, “I’m going to teach you a no rules approach to quilting.” It was and still is extremely liberating. I have taught others the way she taught me, to keep the gift going.

I like the way my heart, and mind, and hands are all working together when I am sewing.

I love the surprise of quilting. Since I never follow a pattern, I am always surprised by the final outcome.

In the same way writers collect quotations and observations and lived examples, I collect colored threads, and fat quarters, and broad sheets of soft cotton and flannel.

My quilts become markers of milestones—births, graduations, and marriages. Other times, they are offered as comfort. It’s hard not to feel joy staring at all the bright colors and threadwork.

Stephanie Paterson

Stephanie Paterson

I like Kaffee Fassett fabrics, and Balinese batiks, and the black Amish fabric which I use frequently for borders, framing each colored quilt square; I admire the bold, bright quilts of the women of Gee’s Bend and the story quilts of Faith Ringgold. Whenever I pick up a new art, I usually make a study of it. I inquire about what others have created and borrow inspiration from a lot of different streams.

“I could never do that,” my boyfriend says. He watches me as I work and sees the fabric everywhere. He sees the intricate process involved and that there are a lot of steps.

Select the fabric

Wash the fabric

Hang the fabric on the line to dry.

Iron the fabric.

Cut the fabric in strips.

Begin piecing.

Stephanie Paterson

Stephanie Paterson

Begin attaching the sashes (the long strips that connect the blocks)

Add binding

Pin the three layers

Quilt

Add trim

Hand sew the border…

He doesn’t see himself as having the patience needed for all these steps but I approach each aspect of quilting with an attitude of play, and because of this, everything about the process is a comfort, and a challenge, and makes me feel alive. When I am working on a quilt project, I am in my full strength.

Missy Urbaniak, Fairpoint, South Dakota  I am learning to spread my wings as an artist… and to be brave and share…even when it’s scary! I made this piece in December. It features a photo of my boys taken by me this fall. It’s one of those moments that all moms want to freeze in time.The artistic journey that I am on means more than words can describe.

Missy Urbaniak

Missy Urbaniak

Katharine Goeldner

Katharine Goeldner

Katharine Goeldner, Salzburg, Austria  My art is music – specifically singing. And even more specifically, opera. “Opera singer” is so much more than an occupation, I think for all of us singers. It’s an identity. For one thing, we carry our instruments within us – it’s there, 24/7, and affected by our emotions, stress, the environment (when I sing in Santa Fe, I have not one, but 2 humidifiers going constantly!), what we ate & drank yesterday…you get the picture. It’s no wonder most of us can get a bit crazy and paranoid about our health- just think, if we get a cold, we don’t sing and we don’t get paid. Hence the bulk-sized hand sanitizer! And when our voice doesn’t function correctly, it can cause an identity crisis. Our sense of Self is so wrapped up with the Voice that when something happens and it doesn’t feel or work right, it seems that we’ve suddenly lost a limb and we can become quite lost to ourselves.

Becoming a singer, being a singer, has shaped who I am, where I live and travel, and who my family is. I travel constantly, back and forth between the US and Europe, and by necessity leaving my family for long periods of time- like a month or two at a time. Which means I have missed out on much of my daughter’s childhood – and I have to deal with those regrets. On the other hand, my traveling lifestyle has helped shape my daughter into a curious, self-sufficient young woman who loves to travel to new places and try new things. There are always positives to justify the negatives, I guess.

For me, the best part of being a Singer, the fulfillment, is communication with the audience, taking them on an emotional journey, taking them out of themselves, out of their everyday lives, and helping them to experience, through music, the commonality of humanity – the fire of love and desire, the pain of deep suffering and loss, the humor and absolute joy of Life. Music adds a layer that speaks to our souls.

Katharine singinghttp://katharinegoeldner.com/audio/

Jean-Luc Salles

Jean-Luc Salles

Jean-Luc Salles, Santa Fe, New Mexico  What is it to be a chef?

Being a chef amounts to being an artist in its own right, as well as a philanthropist, an egotist, and of course a little bit of a masochist. As opposed to some professions that carry the burden of creating stress and pain among people, for example IRS inspector or parking enforcement, creating and preparing food that will make people smile and tap into their hedonistic side is a philanthropic mission because you confer your naked feelings and emotions into building dish with the sole purpose of pleasing someone. I approach the process of creation in cooking in the same way a painter or sculptor creates a work of art, finding inspiration in nature, in people, in everyday life and using the plate as my canvas. I seek to create food that will feed not just the body, but the soul and imagination.

Of course this process tends to lead to a certain trait of egotism. Chefs have a tendency to become self-centered and a little out of touch with reality. All the effort, the mental as well as the physical mean that pain, stress and frustration are very much part of being a chef. The constant search for perfection, for the next “the next chef d-oeuvre” can be an exhausting process.

Jean-Luc Salles

Jean-Luc Salles

Sheila Ortego McLaughlin and Shannon Schreiber  Santa Fe, New Mexico  Shannon is the jewelry designer in the family — I just collect/sell the piece-parts — though I’m now dabbling in learning how to make things — but she’s the real talent.  Shannon Schreiber, who I’ll be happy to claim as my daughter if you want to mention that too!
Shannon Schreiber

Shannon Schreiber

Evelyn Roper

Evelyn Roper

Evelyn Roper Almont, Colorado I suppose my art is reflective of how I draw meaning from our world. I hear and see so many astounding vibrancies, not always in the big way, although the vistas and views are hard to miss. I am so honored and grateful to get the experience of being alive that I wish to capture some of those moments in my art. Besides, it helps with long drives, long nights, cold days, difficult times as the sounds or colors reshape my attitude to abundance versus pity or defeat.

Evelyn Roper, Cowgirl Bliss

Evelyn Roper, Cowgirl Bliss

Bobbi Chukran

Bobbi Chukran

Bobbi Chukran, Taylor, Texas  My art has evolved and changed a lot over the years since I studied textile design in college.  For quite some time, I tried to force it into very realistic forms, but then I realized that what I’m all about is the texture, color and pattern.  My mixed-media paintings are constructed in multiple layers on heavy paper or exterior plywood, most of the time over some background of collaged papers, layers of paints and other texturizing materials.  I’ve recently started using hand-cut stencils and including letters and numerals in them, and scratching strange words and symbols into the wet paint.

I also work in the book arts, and my handmade books are a further evolution of that style, combining my writing with the painting/collage. It seems logical to me for my art to end up in book form, since I’m obsessed with books and have an extensive background in publishing, printmaking and work in commercial printshops. I can’t wait to see where that path leads me!
Bobbi Chukran

Bobbi Chukran

Caitlin Granger, Santa Fe, New Mexico  Photography has been apart of my life for eight years and quickly turned into my escape. It was what I could go to to get my frustrations out after a complicated day in high school. Now in college my work continues to grow as I have grown as a person. My journey with photography has gone all over the world from California to Spain and to Santa Fe. I’ve seen a new world through my lens and have found myself through it. I constantly push my limits as an artist and force myself out of my comfort zone. Out of my comfort zone and into worlds of color.
Caitlin Granger

Caitlin Granger

Kenna Rojdnan Sedona, Arizona  I have loved to bake for people since I was ten years old, with cakes being
 my favorite thing to bake. But, I don’t really like an ordinary cake. I like 
for my cakes to tell a story, so I decorate them according to the person I
am baking for and the story I’ve chosen to tell about them. This campfire
cake was created for a boy who was moving to Arizona from Washington DC and
had experienced his first campfire with us when he visited Arizona. He fell
 in love with campfires, so I thought it would be fun to give him a campfire
cake for his birthday, right after his family moved to Arizona. He loved it.

Cakes have become my way of expressing how I feel about someone. Each cake
is consciously created with an intention. With that intention in mind, I
intuitively tune into the person I am baking for, since I have done
intuitive work for many years, and I then infuse the cake with the essence
that I feel that person is needing or wanting. For instance, if they are
wanting more freedom in their life, I infuse it with the essence of freedom.
(I have my own special way of doing this…..) I call these special cakes
 Conscious Cakes. Each cake is a one of a kind work of art lovingly infused
 with a special message. By making cakes this way, I found a perfect way to
combine two of my talents, cake baking and sharing my insights.

Kenna Rodjnan

Kenna Rojdnan

Jennifer French, Santa Fe, New Mexico There are few other places where I am quite so content.  And there is no other place where I am quite so frustrated!

Jennifer French, Studio

Jennifer French, Studio

Kristin Little

Kristin Little

Kristin Little, Palo Alto, California  My journey with art has given me ways of connecting with people. Growing up I was extremely shy. I expressed myself through dance, which I practiced for countless hours, over many years. I was quite keyed in to body language and facial expressions, hyper aware of what people might be saying without words, probably hoping I wouldn’t need to use them myself. People I meet now would be shocked to hear that I was once so shy.

I have come to use art to connect with people. While photographing them, I get to see people truly face to face, helping them let down their guard. It means I get to see a vulnerable side of them, and hold their trust gently, with the ultimate goal of showing them how truly beautiful they are. This sort of true connection is what I have sought in my journey with art, and in life in general.

Kristin Little

Kristin Little

Debranne Dominguez, Tree of Life

Debranne Dominguez, Tree of Life

Debranne Dominguez, Santa Fe, New Mexico  

A long time ago I tried to change my signature. My signature looks like a flatline on an electrocardiogram and I would prefer it to have loops and flourishes. I have also tried to change my painting style. My paintings are figurative, primitive and can be visually dense with a symbolism that seems just the right amount to tell enough of the story that is trying to be told. All my paintings have a story because everything I see around me has a story to tell.

I went to art school to learn to paint with more sophistication, but my paintings still insisted on coming out the same. What may have been useful from art school is the rigorous weekly critiques that we had. After a while, one could become immune to criticism or could defend a works merits or concede that there may some logic to a critical interpretation. This process also had the side effect of making one not dependent  on praise or compliments. It was really freeing as it is easier to be true to yourself if you do not depend on the world to validate you as an artist. I still need to be validated on my  cooking and new haircuts.

The painting Cocina is about a time in my life when I became ill and was diagnosed with diabetes. I knew that I did not want to go on insulin and I remembered stories from my childhood where relatives who were diabetics had avoided taking insulin and been cured by eating nopalitos. I went to visit friends in Guadalajara for a couple months and found my cure in the kitchen of Senora Guzman. Senora Guzman told me that I wasn’t really sick, but eating the wrong food. I needed to pray to Our Lady of Guadalupe and eat the food of my ancestors and I would find my cure. Cocina depicts Senora Guzman’s kitchen and the foods I ate. I became healthy again and stayed in good health when I adhered to Senora Guzman’s recommendations. Ten years later it was discovered that I had Celiacs Disease and ‘the food of my ancestors’ turns out to be gluten free.

Debranne Dominguez, Cocina

Debranne Dominguez, Cocina

Rebecca Farr, Santa Fe, New Mexico  I guess I would have to say that I have been creating since I was a child. I mostly made horses, but also have a weakness for the human figure, bones, and lately, birds. I used to draw. Then I made pastels. Then I painted in oils. Then I rediscovered the camera. I think I have always loved the camera, and have images that my father made of me when I was maybe five years old. I remember going into the darkroom with him and the smell of the chemicals and the safe closeness of the dark, the magic of the image appearing in the developer trays.When I was in college, I wrote to my parents and very calmly told them I had a deep desire to live on the streets of a large city and photograph everything and everybody I saw. I think they were more worried about me living on the streets than making images, and so I was dissuaded and sent to visit my great Aunt Mary in New York City. She was terribly indulgent and let me make images of everything, just stopping short of letting me stay out all night. I loved the experience and went back to school to study Psychology, my itch temporarily scratched.

Recently, I found myself behind a camera again. It’s not film, and I’m not sleeping on the streets of a large city. But the itch to capture a sliver of time or a certain mood or the way light illuminates even the most mundane thing like cobwebs in a window pane is ever present.I began the series of the crow with an intention. It was to be dark and brooding and ripe with innocent sexuality and coming of age. Haha! The images have morphed into something much lighter and less brooding, still ripe, but with raw and genuine beauty. It is about the relationship between human and animal, love and loss, life and death.
Rebecca Farr

Rebecca Farr

Ashley Biggers

Ashley Biggers

Ashley Biggers, Phoenix, Arizona

Photography reminds me how I want to move through my life. It leads me to notice the beauty—in line and form—of every day objects. My night photography process involves patience, a quality I don’t posses naturally. No matter how dark a scene may first appear, if I open the shutter, light will gradually shine through. 

Ashley Biggers

Ashley Biggers

Lisa Wink

Lisa Wink

Lisa Wink DeForest, Wisconsin My medium for artwork is frosting.  I decorate cakes, not for a living, but for the love of doing it.  The process usually begins with an idea or a picture and then I think to myself “how can I make it better?”  How can I turn something flat into something 3 dimensional?  Fondant and gum paste are much like play dough – you can mold it and sculpt into anything your mind can imagine.  My kitchen usually looks like a tornado ripped through it, but I love the calmness I feel when I’m decorating a cake or cupcake – it brings me peace, joy, and happiness.  The real joy comes when I see the faces of those I’ve created the cake for – no one wants to cut into it first!

Lisa Wink

Lisa Wink

Elias Pacheco

Elias Pacheco

Elias Pacheco Santa Fe, New Mexico  My name is Elias Pacheco and I am a 17 year old, fourth generation artist. I have been passionate about art since I was 2 years old. When I was 8 years old, I began showing my art work in the Annual Spanish Market. I have displayed and sold tin work, retablos, bultos, and carved wooden crosses. The retablo shown here brings in traditional elements such as natural gesso, pigments, and techniques, as well as the art that my grandfather does. My grandfather, Lawrence Pacheco, taught me to carve birds, which is a skill he learned from his father, Gene Pacheco. I have also done collaboration pieces with my mother, Alisa Montano. I have also done photography. 

Elias Pacheco

Elias Pacheco

Amy Sayers, "The time has come, the walrus said...."

Amy Sayers, “The time has come, the walrus said….”

Amy Sayers Santa Fe, New Mexico One day, while we were on a family holiday, my daughter who was ten at the time said: “Mom, I’m preparing for my diving spirit!” Immediately, I felt the metaphor in my life….I had just discovered a bag of dried up tubs of paint; watercolors that had belonged to my dad. All they needed to come alive was a little water. Just like my soul. It was time to dive deeply.

I grew up making art, as both my parents were enormously creative; my father being a master painter and illustrator. However, I never considered myself worthy of making the kind of art he made. But a few years back, cancer brought me to my knees. Having survived that dark journey, my soul begged for renewal. It was time to dive deeply and the watercolors took me there.

Dreams, images, lines of poetry started to come through. As I grow older and allow myself to pause, I can see the world through many skins. As the skins get pulled back a collage of dialogues and images appear.

In working with Venetian Plaster and pure pigment, color bleeds into white and images form that may be quite different from the original inspiration. the discovery is exhilarating and the layers are all visible under a veil of varnish.

Amy Sayers, New Dreams

Amy Sayers, New Dreams

Painting with pure pigment is alchemy, transformational in and of itself. I love how it can render a texture and feel of the old frescos. Something is hidden, and something is revealed – there is mystery there.

The paintings here are called: 1. “The time has come, the walrus said…” This painting was inspired by a dream I had of the original Alice in Wonderland – Alice Liddell. It was like looking back in the mirror and I later discovered we shared the same birthday. A piece of wonderland in me… 2. The angel piece also came from a dream in which I had all these baby chicks flying out of my chest. It is called New Dreams. The final painting is called Sacred Banquet and started out as a collage of lettered I had received from my father. I sit as his table always.

Amy Sayers

Amy Sayers, Sacred Banquet

Heather Cook

Heather Cook

Heather Cook Santa Fe, New Mexico  

Why do I tat?

I tat because my hands are itchy twitchy and I need to put them to good use.
I tat because it puts me in touch with the tradition of my mothers and grandmothers who have tatted for generations.
Because I wonder at how many beautiful things can come out of a simple ball of thread and bit of wood.
Because I have tried every other needle art and none of them sing to me the way a shuttle and thread do.
Because it is easy and portable and people in public places stop to talk to me and tell me how “my grandmother used to do that.”
Because it is a dying art and if even one of us tats we keep it alive.
Because it fills my house and my life with beautiful lace that makes my world beautiful.
Because it is a gift to me to be able to give tatted treasures to friends and family.
Why do I tat? I tat because I cannot do otherwise.
Heather Cook

Heather Cook

Ana Bessy Cassidy

Ana Bessy Cassidy

Ana Bessy Peralta Cassidy, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Hola, My name is Ana Bessy and I sculpture in wax/clay and cast in bronze. I have been sculpturing since I was 11 years old. Every day after school I went to a pottery class in Boston where my teacher quickly notice how bored I became on just making cups and bowls on the wheel. Instead she took the role as my model and she taught me to sculpture,but through the years I’ve been influenced by many New Mexicans artist here in Santa Fe. Althought my biggest impact came from studying art at San Miguel de Allende The Instituto in Guanajuato, Mexico. There I discovered the beauty of a females body and the endless curves I so enoyed sculptuing, and turning into bronze. Gracias for taking your time to look into my life of art.

Ana Bessy Cassidy

Ana Bessy Cassidy

Yuriko Nishimura, photo by A. Emmonds

Yuriko Nishimura, photo by A. Emmonds

Yuriko NishimuraSanta Fe, New Mexico  

My stone carving is one of a kind and it is DURABLE. It’s going to be around for a while and it’s the antithesis of mass produced, industrial products that we are constantly bombarded with these days.

Stone also lifts up my heart. When I see its beautiful colors and patterns created by nature in the course of thousands of years or more, I am in awe. When I work with stone with my hands, I feel deeply connected to the earth and I imagine the incredible journey that a rock has taken to come to my possession.

Yuli Nishimura

Yuli Nishimura, Frog stone is green Connemara Marble from Ireland

Nicole White

Nicole White

Nicole White Tulsa, Oklahoma  I am interested in the everyday as much as the extraordinary. My efforts to depict the world we live in have intersected with an equal longing to depict an interior world of my own imaginings. I have made portraits of family members, diagrams of architectural elements, fragmented landscapes, and other things I won’t attempts to categorize.

Balancing the demands of work and family life with time in the studio is often brutal. When I look over what I have made since leaving art school, my progress seems microscopic. However, I commit myself to art simply because I have no other choice. Making images is my way of understanding my environment and myself. Hopefully, some clumsy reflection of this aspiration is manifest in my work.

Nicole White, Treehouse

Nicole White, Treehouse

Rod Hearn, Reno, Nevada   Ajax in Iraq has been one of the most difficult scripts I’ve ever put on stage with high school students.  The play asks a lot of young people who, for the most part, have very limited life experience, even though the war in Iraq has been a part of their consciousness for a long time.  While it’s been a tough one to produce, the play has also been in many ways just the right thing for my young actors to sink their teeth into, portraying real adults with significant life challenges, universal challenges.  Part of the beauty of this play is the parallet storylines between Ajax, a character from a Sophocles play, with a contemporary female soldier in Iraq.  The script is haunting, terrifying and, at times, beautiful.  This shot is from their final dress rehearsal yesterday, and this morning they will begin a series of six “teasers” for their peers, with opening night for the public tonight.

Rod Hearn

Rod Hearn

Diane Solomon, Loyal Companions

Diane Solomon, Loyal Companions

Diane Solomon, Santa Fe, New Mexico Dear Fellow Art Lovers ~ As a child, my pencil and sketchbook were my constant companions. I grew up drawing animals ~mostly horses. Then art was put aside as I married, had two children, raised Arabian horses and worked in the family-owned construction business.

A family tragedy and chronic illness left me bereft and disinterested in life. But at some point years later the emotional and physical pain began to lift. Once again I became aware of my treasures: my husband and daughter, my friends, my animals, and the incredible beauty of the world in which I lived. I picked up my paint brush… and began to see the world with new eyes.

I have discovered that I love deep, rich colors. That I must find the spirit of each subject I paint. I also know that animals are my

favorite subjects and that my greatest joy is watching their souls emerge through the window of their eyes.

Diane Solomon, Harry Potterpaws

Diane Solomon, Harry Potterpaws

My wish is that my paintings express the gratitude I have for life… that somehow you can hear my joy speaking through these lovingly rendered images. And may it remind you of the incredible world you inhabit!

Diane Solomon, Bandolero

Diane Solomon, Bandolero

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Meadowlark – The Veil Thins

Grace and baby, circa 1911

Grace and baby, circa 1911

And so continued the journey.

I wrote earlier how my novel Meadowlark began with a question that has lingered in our family for decades, a question that I wrote a book to answer. In the midst of writing Meadowlark, the story of my own life interrupted and, “The books about the prairie and notebooks remained shoved onto shelves and closed for the next number of years. Until one day, Grace whispered from the past to begin to write her story again. I had no idea that writing her story would save me.”

I dusted off the notebooks on the shelves and lifted the story threads once again.  What I didn’t realize at the time was how integral Grace would be in my navigation of the splintered constellation of my life . My new world completely foreign, I opened the notebooks and loosened the stiff pages pressed tightly together. The soft crackle of the pages releasing each other loosened something deep within me. Grace’s story became the bedrock island of my quicksand world. The more I delved into her life and experiences, the more the veil between our worlds thinned, until I learned to trust the unknown.

Ranch, Winter 2013

Ranch, Winter 2012

Wynn wearing the wedding dress of her great-great grandmother Grace.

Wynn wearing the wedding dress of her great-great grandmother Grace.

The thinning of this supposed separation continues. My family and I spent this Christmas with my parents on the ranch in South Dakota where Grace lived. One week before we arrived, a mysterious package arrived from our cousin, and Grace’s grandson, Kurt. Mom opened the package to find Grace’s wedding dress and riding jacket, in perfect condition. I describe Grace’s wedding dress in the novel as moss green. Our 13-year-old daughter, Wynn, tried on the dress and jacket. When she walked out, the air stilled.

We spent the next week in the house where Grace lived, on the land she walked and rode. Noé and I walked to the corrals and he stopped and looked around. “I feel Grace here,” he said.

I felt her everywhere—standing on the steps of the root cellar, looking out the window above the kitchen sink, and walking with long strides out to the corrals. I felt her most keenly in the moments I was deep in thought about something else and her presence appeared. Her bedroom is now our dining room. As we sat to eat Christmas dinner, I glanced at her shallow closet, now holding stacks of ceramic dishes and linens, I thought I saw the feint outline of dresses hanging from the pegs.

After we’d returned to Santa Fe, Mom called me, “Honey, there was a journal of Grandma Grace’s with the dress and jacket.”  A journal neither one of us had known existed. The first page of the journal reads, “Rapid City, January 2, 1907  My dear daughter, May your life be like footprints in the sand, Leave a mark, but not a stain. Your Mother.”

Grace's journal, pg 1

Grace’s journal, pg 1

Here are two pieces, written years ago, lifted directly from the Meadowlark manuscript:

“Tucked in the trunk, under her clothes and along with her books, was the journal bound in chocolate-brown leather that her mother had given her shortly before her death. Inside on the first page, in her exquisitely neat handwriting, her mother had written, “To Grace, A place to wrest to paper the many exciting and happy times you’re sure to have. I wish you a lifetime of love and joy. Your loving mother. July 30, 1910.”

“Grace looked at the floor. It was fitting. Wherever Mae went, she left her mark. No doubt about it. People know she’s been there. Me? I feel more like dust on the wind. I want to leave a mark that I have walked this earth, breathed this air, loved and cried here. I want to leave footprints.”

Author Julia Alvarez describes discovering historical facts she writes about in detail In the Time of the Butterflies, a novel based on the real lives of three sisters, Las Mariposas, who lived and died under dictatorship in the Dominican Republic. Alvarez discovers these facts, which she writes about in minute detail, after the book had been published.

Paul Overacker

Paul Overacker

Meadowlark is work of fiction, founded on that lingering question I asked Mom as we folded laundry and Mom smiled, “I don’t know, but I’ve always wondered.”

Grace, Tom, and Paul, are main characters of the novel and based on my great-grandmother, great-grandfather, and the ranch foreman, became as much a part of my life as the living, breathing people surrounding me. They’ve never left the ranch. There are countless stories of their presence in the house and around the ranch headquarters. “I heard Paul walking in the bedroom above me again last night,” my dad called to tell me. “He had his boots on this time.” Isabel Allende writes of her relief after moving to a new house, to hear the spirit of her daughter, Paula, arranging the furniture above.

Grace and friends

Grace and friends

People joined Grace as I wrote. One day I lifted my head to see Mae Thingvold, doctor and girl homesteader from the East Coast, driving her buggy up over the horizon and chiming, “Grace! Grace, dear, fret not! I’m on my way!” Ike was not far behind and he never failed to make me laugh.  Then, Daisy Standing Horse slipped in silent as a shadow, and soon she and Grace were intent on their beading and sewing in front of the fire. As I came to know these women, their strength, resiliency, humor, and friendship guided me through the new terrain of my life.

When life felt too painful in my own turn of the century, I slid gratefully into Grace’s world. I raced bareback across the prairie, the wind on my face, the surge of the horses’s muscles beneath me, and  hooves pounding against the earth. I laughed with Mae and savored the way beads twinkled in the candlelight with Daisy. When the time came, I returned to my own world strengthened.

And, always the land. As I walked the prairie through the seasons, the rhythms of the plants, animals, wind, and weather seeped into me. The sun broke through the lead gray sky of winter and set the crystal beads of hoarfrost on the tree limbs sparkling in a million prisms. I marveled at this land’s ability to shift between darkness and light in a moment’s notice.

In writing Grace’s story, I gained faith in my own.

(Thank you to cousin Kurtis Gentry, for your generous spirit—for the treasures of Grace’s dress, jacket, journal, and photos of Grace & child and Paul. For thinning the veil.)

Open prairie, winter 2012.

Open prairie, winter 2012.

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Writing Spaces of the World

Doris Quintana Brandt, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Doris Quintana Brandt, Santa Fe, New Mexico

You took my breath away.

The last Dewdrops was An Invitation to share your writing spaces. Little did I know the feast for the physical, emotional, and literary senses I was about to experience. Images and words from all different kinds of writers from all over the world have since journeyed to me. It is my honor to share these writers’ writing spaces and journeys.

Isabel Allende

Isabel Allende

Isabel Allende lights a candle to call inspiration and the muses, to invite the spirits to be with her as she writes. Terry Tempest Williams writes with a glass of water on her desk, to remind her that even when it feels like nothing is happening, that just as the water is invisibly evaporating, transformation is happening in her writing.

Both of these rituals speak powerfully to me and I emulate them on in my own writing space.

After I sent out the Invitation, my literary agent and dear friend, Liz, immediately wrote to me, “Dawn, there is beauty in the neat-and-tidy aspect of your cleaned up desk. But there is also beauty in a certain sort of messiness that only occurs when creation is taking place. Some times ‘the swirl and swing of words’ is too powerful to be neat and tidy! Happy New Year — and Happy Creations in 2013. love, Liz.”

It is in the spirit of the “beauty in a certain sort of messiness that only occurs when creation is taking place,” and the number of you who wrote to me that your writing space was too messy to share, that I include this photo of one of my writing spaces, in all of its messiness, creativity, and authenticity.

My writing space on our dining room table.

My writing space on our dining room table.

I was working on the new book, Raven’s Time: Wildness and Beauty, and decided to take this photo, as it so aptly reflects my writing life. I always thought that writing would involve  – well, a lot less mess.

I envisioned a beautiful study, the desk always neat, and me with hours to write. While I do have a beautiful writing desk—thanks to my husband, Noé, who created a fabulous writing space out of old bookshelves and a child’s desk—it sits in the middle of our single, very busy living room. The living room is often filled with our three teenagers, my husband, the German Shepherd, music, and noise. I often write with ear plugs, as activity abounds around me. I work full-time outside the home, so time alone at my desk is rare. This table top aptly reflects the realities of my writing life; the web clusters of chapter ideas, the journals, the computer, the books and more books with sticky notes where there are quotes I want to remember. These are mixed along with the dog leash and sun glasses from the run that I just went on with our dog, my new glasses (I walked into the eye doctor’s office and said, “I’ve always had 20/20 vision and now I’m over 40 and I can’t see. Help!), the coffee cups, our kids’ homework, school and sport schedules, and the registration form set out to remind me to complete it for our oldest son. It would only be more complete, if there were the vegetables that I was cutting for dinner somewhere on the table, too.

In my experience, we keep thinking that somehow writing is set apart from life. For most of us, though, it is found within the fullness of life.

It is within the fullness of each of these writers’ lives that they share these images and aspects of their writing spaces and journeys. If you don’t have a fresh cup of coffee or tea with you, I invite you to take the time to make one to enjoy  these spaces of 25 members and members-at-large of our Dewdrops community from around the world. These deserve to be savored.

Jennifer Wolfe, Davis, California USA When I was a little girl, I was terribly shy. Talking to most people was a physical impossibility for me – I’d rather hide behind a tree than have to speak to my friend’s parents as they opened their door. I was perfectly content burying myself in library books, finding great adventures through someone else’s life stories….So last summer when I let loose this blog, my voice was born. Over the last 365 days, I’ve learned to trust it, listen to it, and share it. I’ve learned to pause, ponder and pour it out onto the page. I’ve learned to watch and heed the commentary it produces, to observe the emotions it creates, and to suspend that inner critic who cautions me that I’m treading on the brink of disaster. Now that I have a little girl, I’m not so shy. Talking to most people is not a physical impossibility anymore – as long as I can let my fingers do it for me.

Jennifer Wolfe, Writing space in Tahoe, CA

Jennifer Wolfe, Lake Tahoe, CA

Susan J. Tweit, Salida, Colorado USA My office – It’s inside, but it feels like outside. The desk (built by my late beloved, the best sculptural cabinetmaker I will likely ever know) was made to fit into the bay at the end of my tiny room (I call it my nest), right into the bay with windows that give me a panoramic view over town, from the Arkansas Hills to the east to the Sawatch Range to the west. (I wrote about my office and my view in an essay in the anthology An Elelvated View: Colorado Writers on Writing.) Richard built the shelves too, sizing the top shelf so I could display all the books I’ve written face out, and see, as he said, “the body of your work” to inspire me as I write. The walls and ceiling are four colors for the four directions: yellow for south, terra-cotta for west, midnight blue for north and the heavens (ceiling) overhead, sage green for east. So there you have my writing space, a little cluttered but full of special mementos of friends, family and the community of the land. My inspiration.

Susan Tweit, Salida, CO

Susan Tweit, Salida, CO

Joe Breeden, Santa Fe, New Mexico USA I’m actually writing about this myself as part of my travel book. Because I travel a lot, I do most of my writing from the road. I find the quiet of a hotel room to be too easily distracting. I like the steady drone of life around me as I write. I am writing about people and places that I see while traveling, so why not write in that place with those people. Ironically, the occasional fleeting distraction of people walking by or a song I know playing gives me my needed momentary pause before diving back in. My writing space is defined by my laptop, iPad, and iPhone. In the afternoon, add a cup of chai. In the evening, add a beer. In general, I describe my setting as “A bar, a beer, and a band.

Joe Breeden- One of my favorite bars in Minsk, U Ratushi 0,5

Joe Breeden- One of my favorite bars, U Ratushi  in Minsk, Belarus

Joan Wink, Howes, South Dakota USA Mom is under a deadline to finish her presentation for graduate class in South Dakota tomorrow and presentation in Qatar next week and asked if I’d write a bit about her writing life. My parents ranch cattle and horses in western South Dakota. Here is a selected compilation of real phone conversations that represent my mom’s writing life, “Hi honey, I was working on my presentation for Qatar and then we got a call that the bulls were out on the highway, and we had to go get them. The water line broke, we have no water on the ranch and your dad is fixing it, so we get water to the cattle, horses, and house by midnight. I just submitted that article. Your dad has meetings at the legislature today, he’s out feeding now, and I’m going with him. I’m taking my computer to work on the TESOL presentation in the pickup on the drive. I’m thawing the hoses in the kitchen, so I can fill the cistern, so I can do laundry. The vet came to castrate the colts today and one almost climbed out of the corral. One of my books is going to be published in Chinese. The electricity is down at the truck wash out and your dad’s gone to fix it. My online class is using a new format. I’m learning that. How are the kids?”
Joan Wink, South Dakota

Joan Wink, South Dakota

Joan Wink's desk, Christmas, Howes, South Dakota

Joan Wink, Christmas, Howes, South Dakota

Brenda Moguez, Walnut Creek, California USA Brenda Moguez lives in San Francisco. She writes Women’s Fiction with quirky, strong characters, and non-formulaic endings because life isn’t always perfect. She’s currently shopping her first novel and editing the second. When she’s not working on a story, she writes love letters to the universe, dead poets, and Mae West.  She is a working writer
Brenda's Pink Palace

Brenda’s Pink Palace, San Francisco, California

Terre Jones, Santa Fe, New Mexico USA While creating my photo essay, Road Trip: A Photographer’s Journey to America’s National Parks, my “office” was packed along with me in a hybrid SUV. Cameras, computers and external hard drives were with me at all times – often literally on my back – a little “turtle-esque” I suppose. So at a slow, but steady pace, I traversed these United States – in a non-direct path from Acadia National Park in Maine to Death Valley National Park in California and then back again to Washington, DC. For over three month and some 19,000 solo driving miles… nature was my office as well as my “counsel” as I tried to convey through photographic images and the words of great poets and environmentalists, the beauty of this country and the power of solitary observation. Upon my return home, my “Tree House” office at Wolf Trap Foundation was waiting for me… a place still in touch with nature where I could finish the edits and composition. It was a “road trip” inspired by Steinbeck and a personal dream come true!

Terre Jones

Terre Jones, Arches National Monument

Terre Jones, The Treehouse,

Terre Jones, The Treehouse, Wolf Trap Office, Virginia

Chasity Vigil, Pecos, New Mexico USA My writing space is an extension of myself…It’s fantastical. A world outside of this one, an escapists world filled with cartoons and fairies and dragons. In this picture you can’t see the bookshelves laden with stories collected since I was four… Notebooks everywhere; half empty… Pens stashed so that I would never be without one. There is something inspiring about writing in notebooks with pens. The inability to erase makes the thoughts careful in their choosing. There is no white out in my space. Just a permanence to the words. I write young adult fantasy, because my world resides in that age… because pieces of me never grew up… because its of my own story are mixed into the stories I write and reading is empathic. We read to find others like ourselves and share in our troubles, share in the inability to fit into society, into school, into the world in general. We like stories that we can say “I have felt this and know, there are others just like me.” My current projects include Destiny. It is a 4 to 5 book series for young adults that focuses on four teens destined to destroy their world from birth. A story about choices and how we treat each other and the consequences it brings and growing. I am working on a collection of memoiristic essays that I will be calling Butterfli. Lastly I am working on Theunmapped.com  a website that will contain a personal blog, a young adult literary journal (not taking submissions yet) that I will be editing and publishing online, and a forum based bookclub in three parts. One fore children and their parents, one for young adults, and one for adults so that the circle and joy of reading never ends.

Chasity Vigil, Pecos, NM

Chasity Vigil, Pecos, NM

Kathleen Krueger, Brainerd, Minnesota USA Once a week, this is my writing space for the afternoon. It is the gift shop for our local arts organization. When serve as volunteer cashier, I bring my laptop, so that I can keep writing. It is a beautiful, serene environment that also has connected me with many of the artists in the area.

Kathleen Krueger

Kathleen Krueger, Brainerd, Minnesota

Cort Felts, Albuquerque, New Mexico USA My Lair. Sometimes I even write in this space.
Cort Felts - My Lair

Cort Felts, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Amy Sayers, Santa Fe, New Mexico USA I am a New Mexico based writer and artist living in lovely Santa Fe. My aim is to produce intricate designs that are layered with symbolism and live in a striking form which then moves and inspires the viewer. My paintings are constructed with layers of Venetian plaster, burnished with pure pigment, oil pastels, photographs, writings, drawings and found objects.  The various mediums produce a delicate texture and add depth to my palette. I am drawn to mythology, Jungian psychology, poetry, dance, classical music and dreamtime.  Ideas occur in early dawn, in the time between waking and dreaming or simply walking through my backyard, which empties into the arroyo behind my house.  I also explore my own style during peaceful and quiet moments, away from the hustle and bustle of every day life.  To create my own pieces of art for other people’s pleasure make me feel very proud and privileged.

Amy Sayers, Santa Fe, NM

Amy Sayers, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Amy Sayers, Santa Fe, NM

Amy Sayers, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Brenda Cervantes, Monterrey, México  I sometimes feel the need to write to clarify my mind, trying to get some “explanation”, absorb my experiences, the “good” ones and not “so good” ones, and be more aware of them , also in a certain way confirm my way and my decisions, but it is most of the time for myself, I am not a professional as you can see je! I used to have kind of diaries, but now I feel more comfortable writing on my netbook.

Brenda Cervantes, Monterrey, México

Brenda Cervantes, Monterrey, México

Brenda Cervantes, Monterrey, México

Brenda Cervantes, Monterrey, México

Lauren Zaira, recently back in Berkeley, CA after El Salvador and the World  I’m looking forward to seeing other’s writing spaces.  Since I’m not a professional writer…and since I have trouble sitting in one spot for too long…I tend to create from spaces with views…of the garden, of the volcano.  I like to be outside and in the sun if possible.  Lately, I’ve been journaling everyday.  I go through phases, but am currently rereading “the artist’s way” and enjoying her “morning pages”.  Sometimes my morning pages happen at 3pm or before bed…but I like the process whatever time it happens to be.  I also try and make a point of including some positive affirmations.  These days it’s “I am now attracting the right job for me!”  Yes, I’m looking for a job…and during these rare times of not enough to do or in seeking out “what’s next” I feel so very thankful for having the tools to write and journal.

Lauren Zaira - Writing terrace in San Salvador

Lauren Zaira – Writing terrace in San Salvador

Lauren Zaira - Highlight journal and daily journal in Madrid café

Lauren Zaira – Highlight journal and daily journal in Madrid café

Laurie Jameson, Llano, Texas USA What I’m looking for while creating my new writing area:  space around me so I don’t feel closed in, natural light coming through the windows with a view of trees and lawn, nothing on the walls to distract me, everything organized and within easy reach so I do not have to leave my chair, no interruptions (unless the house is burning down!), absolute silence (that is not going to happen with neighborhood dogs, traffic, and a husband, but I can pretend).  Most of all, less equals more.  With less stuff around me I will have more peace of mind, more focus, more ability to tap into the newly emerging images and thoughts in my consciousness instead of being always drawn back into the past to reflect on what I used to do, what worked and didn’t work, what is still unfinished.  Soon, I tell myself, soon…and then who knows what kind of characters and story will emerge!

Saraí Vasquez, Sacedón, Spain Mi lugar para escribir, para pensar, para organizar mis ideas, para leer, para checar mis emails y, por que no, el lugar donde también algunas veces  leo mi facebook :). Te envío algunas fotos de los lugares que me han ayudado ha inspirarme, que me han dado la paz y tranquilidad para escribir y volver a escribir. (My place to write, to think, to organize my ideas, to read, to check my emails, and why not, the place where I also sometimes read my facebook. 🙂 I send you some fotos of the places that have helped to inspire me, have given me the peace and tranquility to write and return to write.)

Saraí Vasquez, en nuestra casa de Santa Fe acostumbrabamos ( Rodrigo y yo ) escribir en esta habitación.

Saraí Vasquez, Bedroom in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Saraí Vasquez, Sacedón, Spain

Saraí Vasquez, apartment in Sacedón, Spain

Lisa Dale Norton, Santa Fe, New Mexico USA Goin’ to the Lake was a common phrase in my childhood. My parents had purchased a ramshackle fishing cabin in 1960 and spent years of summers and stolen days in fall and spring driving the one hundred miles from our home in small town Nebraska to the abandoned Sandhills further west where my father built walls and cupboards, and my mother sewed curtains and slip covers.In the summer that magical phrase goin’ to the Lake peppered my days with anticipation: “We’re goin’ to the Lake this weekend,” my mother would say. “Your father is goin’ to the Lake; we’ll follow next week.”

Now years later, my father and mother are dead, and the old lake cabin serves as the touchstone for family and home and all that is sacred and sweetly nostalgic. When I go to the Lake, I spread my papers and books amidst sentimental paraphernalia my father left on the wooden desk the last time he used it—a paperweight with the words The Boss; a plastic wind-up toy of teeth that dance across the surface when set loose to flap and chatter; a mug with his name on it delineating the meaning of Bill: resolute/determined; a gag gift of a wooden egg, standing on two wooden feet that when grasped and lowered reveals a sign rising from its top reading: Help!  I keep the old and add the new, feathers and rocks I gather on walks, a windblown bird’s nest, the half shell of a creamy blue robin’s egg. The desk sits below the screen windows of the porch and looks out into a corner of the yard where a ancient grove of lilacs prosper. Bunnies and baby robins get lessons in life skills in the grass beyond that screen. I sit there and ponder, tap-tap-tap on the laptop. Sometimes I put my feet up and just let the thread of continuity link me with all that I value. From that rise the words I know I have to say.

Lisa Dale Norton, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Lisa Dale Norton, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Nicky Leach, Santa Fe, New Mexico USA. Right now, as you know, I am homeless and living in other people’s spaces. I don’t have any setup at all and do everything on a tiny and very mobile laptop. That is my writer’s life now… It’s quite hard. I miss my own space. But I am glad for the fluidity of inspiration… Right now, where I am living at two landscape artist friend’s old adobe, I am surrounded by all their art and their lives. I actually love that. It is so interesting to me to tune into other people’s environments and different landscapes. I’ve made a point to try to live in the world, and be inspired by it and others in recent years. Of necessity, but also a very good step in my spiritual journey.

Kenna Rojdnan, Sedona, Arizona USA My Desk: Everything ends up on my desk. It’s a place where my thoughts live…..literally. It’s one of the messiest places in my house. I love a  neat, clean home, but my desk is the exception to that. I’m a visual person, so everything has to be out in the open for me to see it, or I will forget about it. Because of this, I have empty supplement bottles to remind me to reorder them on amazon, art projects to finish, cookbooks that I’m reading, bills to be paid, lists and lists of things I want to buy that I see online, lists of things I’ve researched, family photos…..anything that lives in my brain ends up on my desk. So, by the looks of my desk, I must have a very active brain!!

Kenna Rojdnan, Desk

Kenna Rojdnan, Sedona, Arizona

Creation Board: I create my creation board with my intentions in the very center of the board. I find words that describe my essence, which is how I see myself and also what I want to embrace about me.  I know that from my core all other things are created, so having my essence in the center of the board is essential. Every time I read a magazine, I am constantly tearing out pictures or words that are examples of what I want in my life and post them on my board. Several things have already been created from my board, and when that happens I leave the picture on the board to remind me of how powerful my intentions can be. I love being able to look at my board and remember how beautifully I am creating my life. It always gives me a sense of myself, especially during times when I might begin to doubt that anything is really happening or if it seems to be happening too slowly. I’ve created a second creation board to hold only the essence of what life gives me. It’s not a wish board for the things I want, but a board that holds words that describe me and my spiritual journey; words like, Thank You, Incredible Journey, Vibrant, Roam Free, Be Amazing, Believe You Can Do Anything……..these words capture what my heart feels and reminds me of where I always live within myself.  Friends who see my creation boards always say to me, “That’s totally you, Kenna!”

Kenna's Creation Board, "The center isfor the essence of how I see myself and what I proclaim about myself."

Kenna’s Creation Board, “The center is
for the essence of how I see myself and what I proclaim about myself.”

Will Barnes, Santa Fe, New Mexico USA Here is my disaster of a work space!  Ha, what a fail!  I am swamped in clutter, organizationally challenged, or, what I do is set things down, because putting them away requires so much decision-making, and I am paralyzed by that; when I come in with things to put someplace, I am way over-tired and have absolutely no will to decide, or to sort, or to ferret, or to search out an appropriate resting place.  All I want is to be rid of the armload of miscellany.  So it all goes down in a pile. To remain there until the room burns down.  Or I wake inspired to clear the decks.  It is that time of year.  You can see the candle poking up hopefully!  The chaos has forced me to find other writing climes.  I’ve become a wandering writer, leaving piles in my wake everywhere.  I am the “pigpen” of writers.  ala.  I hate that about myself.  I want clarity so badly.  What do people do with their piles?  When they are tired and can’t decide? Here is a poem:

in the city of birds
the waters unravel, unfurl —
kinglet, solitaire, the violet-green swallows — hurry now —
the creek is come undone — and we —
a text in sheaves — braid and unbraid —
its breath against the leaves’ eclipse —
this ravishment — this rush to be —
and each to each — to tell —
of heron, egret, the cranes —
Will Barnes

Will Barnes

Cinthya Alvarado Martínez, Quetzaltenango, Guatemala To write means for me, more than just taking one pencil and write what my mind dictates to me. Writing is the possiblity to touch the sky with your fingers, is the way to create an imaginary world around you and discover a treasure in the heart of the earth; but also, express the excitement of a Joyless or the sadness of a lost.One of my dreams is be a writter, not that one that everyone reads, but one that shares more than feelings, one that shows the soul of the human person.Having an space to express yourself with your one music, a view or feel comfortable is important to help you to feel with more inspiration, my room is my space is where I spend hours writing, drawing and reading. Always that I write, I also make pictures of what I wrote.It is not necessary to be a wise person to write, but the the wisdom of the life appears when you open your heart to the gift of writing.

Cinthya Alvarado Martínez, Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

Cinthya Alvarado Martínez, Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

Cinthya Alvarado Martínez, Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

Cinthya Alvarado Martínez, Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

Christy Reveles, Santa Fe, New Mexico USA I love how tranquil and yet energized I become once I sit down to bead. Concentration and focus on the beautiful beads and designs I am making are a wonderful sort of meditation for me.

Christy Reveles, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Christy Reveles, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Christy Reveles, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Christy Reveles, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Michele Hussey, Doha, Qatar  I love how I looked at my writing spaces after I took these pictures. I was taking them for granted! I never take my computer to bed, but I do write in my journals before bed, usually with a cup of tea beside me. I started writing in four journals in 2004, one for each of my sons, one for my husband and one for me. I usually end my day writing in one of them. They don’t know I am doing this. I have been putting down stories as well as reflecting on our lives together. Right now, it’s more for me, but eventually I hope it is a cherished gift for them. I am always at one of our tables to do work-related writing, emails, etc. I have always aspired to writing something that is publishable, but have never had the drive to do the work it takes to make that happen. Enough writing is there when I need it, and that’s good enough for me right now!

Michele Hussey

Michele Hussey, Doha, Qatar

Doha, perhaps like many desert cities, is mostly tones of beige, including all of the houses and buildings. When we moved here and stepped into our house, it was the one thing that we had to change immediately! Every wall and floor in the whole house was beige, hard and cold. I can’t remember the exact timing, but I know we got on the painting within the first few weeks! It made all the difference in the world.

Michele Hussey

Michele Hussey, Doha, Qatar

Susan Sandretto, Dunedin,  New Zealand Currently working on  a research report.

Susan Sandretto, Dunedin, New Zealand

Susan Sandretto, Dunedin, New Zealand

Berenice Cisneros Villalba, Oaxaca, México I am from Oaxaca, and here there are so many nice and picturesque spaces to relax and most importantly to inspire during the writing process. What I look in a space is to feel relaxed. In the first picture, there is a big window, I sit, look through it and see people, cars, dogs, etc passing in front of me and from then I get the topic I will develop my writing. (that window is like a bola mágica that helps me to write magical things)

Berenice Cisneros Villalba, Oaxaca, México

Berenice Cisneros Villalba, Oaxaca, México

I like the couch; I sit, lie down and connect those inner ideas I got from the first place. I like the light. It is like “amber” that helps me feel creative and I feel the flow of the ideas connecting among themselves easily. Here are some examples of my writing (the ones I have written in that place).

A window for possibilities

A green path of shift and access

A web page

A radio cluster trial

A vision to access mass communications

Weaving cables

With control like a spider

As a flash of meanings

With no exact meanings

A blue fish of solar energy

In a fisherman’s net

The web a free-association

A window for possibilities

A green path on shifts and access

A window, a nucleus.

Bere

         Berenice Cisneros Villaalba, Oaxaca, México

Berenice Cisneros Villaalba, Oaxaca, México
Polly JonesSanta Fe, New Mexico USA Here are a couple of pictures taken in Prague after hours of walking the marvelous old streets…wish I had painted my toe nails…An astrologer told me that my birth chart has only one earth sign and four water signs (plus two fire and three air).  That might be why I’m attracted to water (yet live in the high desert). I enjoy being immersed in water’s  pliable substance.  Yet for all the softness and non-resistance, water carves great canyons out of rigid rock.  I’m sure there is a lesson in that.  I like to soak and allow water to soften my resistance so that the carving of words flows gently persistently, sometimes rapidly with more force, yet always with clarity.  Living in the desert, water is consciously honored as a sacred element, as it has been for centuries before it could be accessed so easily.  After soaking, the water is carried out to plants that are thirsty and grateful for extra attention.  I love the smell of rain, of the ocean and the mossy bank of a mountain stream. Writing is an off-shoot of these pleasures.
Polly Jones, Prague, Czech Republic

Polly Jones, Prague, Czech Republic

Polly Jones, Prague, Czech Republic

Polly Jones, Prague, Czech Republic

Doris Quintana Brandt, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA Mi lugar de escribir es mi refugio favorito, donde aprendo a escuchar la sonata de mi vida dentro de mi, algunas veces es tristeza, alegría, asombro, y porque no, vergüenza. Que importa si hay mal tiempo lluvioso, ventoso, mi refugio sigue siendo mi cómplice, porque yo soy – yo y ésto. (My place to write is my favorite refuge, where I learn to listen to the sonata of my life inside of me, sometimes sadness, happiness, amazement, and why not, shame. It doesn’t matter if there’s bad weather outside, raining, windy, my refuge continues to be my accomplice, this is who I am – me and this.)
Doris Quintana Brandt, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Doris Quintana Brandt, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Doris Quintana Brandt, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Doris Quintana Brandt, Santa Fe, New Mexico

With profound gratitude, I thank all who contributed stories, journeys, and images. Sharing one’s writing with the public is akin to handing your soul over on a platter. Writing is sacred. Our writing spaces carry this same energy. To share these spaces, these writers share their souls. You inspire.
To invoke the muses and remember invisible transformation.

To invoke the muses and remember invisible transformation.

Each space as unique as the writer’s fingerprint, the spectrum of spaces are as infinite and varied as snowflakes.

Whether they be public, private, nomadic, permanent, messy, neat, inside or in the wild, each carries an individual and sacred voice.

Honor yours.

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