Tag Archives: Between the Covers

Back Again

A wee bit more than a month ago, Nov 10th, I headed home after two weeks in Telluride. At the time, I figured it’d be at least until February or March before my next visit. Wound up not taking that long.

A week and a half ago, I got word that the December monthly meeting of Telluride’s Talking Gourds poetry club, had been moved from the 6th to the 14th. Since I have Wednesdays and Thursdays off from work, I would be able to attend. Further, the guest poet was going to be, Elissa Dickson, who is currently the San Miguel County Poet Laureate and also someone whom I wanted to hear read their poetry. Finally, Dec 14th is my birthday. All these plusses converging, what other choice did I have, but attend?

When I arrived at the venue, last night, it was packed. The only time I’d seen as many folks attend a Talking Gourds was the night Jewel (the singer/songwriter) was one of the guest poets. Last night’s draw was Elissa. She works at the library, is outgoing, and has lived in Telluride for a number of years. Her friends, peeps, loved ones, and other supporters had filled the room.

Speaking for myself, I scarcely know Elissa; I’ve seen her a few times at previous Talking Gourds, and have heard a few of her performance and written poems. Even so with such seemingly little to go on regarding Elissa, my regard for her, and my appreciation and respect of her talents, was enough to cause me to come for the night in Telluride: (Four-and-a-half hour drive, each way; three mountain passes, also each way; not to mention the cost of gas and a hotel room, and the sorta “loss” of my two days off from work.) There are very few others I’d willingly do this for. So, if  I, “scarcely” knowing her as I do, immediately decided to come to Telluride in order to hear her, is it any wonder she packed the house with those who know her far better?

Of course, and to be sure, once I’m here, spending time in Telluride isn’t any burden. I’ve lost count of my overnight(s) visits over the past three or four years, but I’m pretty sure it’s in at least the upper teens. As always, I stayed at Mountainside Inn, and stopped by the local Indie bookstore, Between the Covers, (two times, this time), to buy needed books and the like. Also, I got to touch base with some of own Telluridian “friends, peeps, loved ones, and other supporters.”

Even though I’ll have to be at work by 4AM, tomorrow, “what other choice did I have,” but to come? (Place your bets now, on whether I’ll be able to wait until next year’s Lit Fest, in May, to return.)

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Filed under Changing Perspective, Honoring Your Writing and Your Being a Writer, Inspiration, re: Writing

Valuing What You Do

Once again, I’m in Telluride. En route to here, Monday, I stopped in Ouray, where a writer friend of mine, who lives elsewhere in Colorado, was visiting their Hot Springs Pool, with the family. The pool is just ten miles off my route to Telluride, so we made plans to meet, there.

I’ve known this friend—let’s call him, Roger—for a handful of years. He’s been writing for roughly the same amount of time that I have, but he’s had much better success than I. Frankly, it’s due to his being more dedicated, and a bit more talented. I even knew who he was for nearly a full decade before we ever physically crossed paths. Even though we’ve since become good friends, I still look up to Roger. Still kinda put him on a pedestal.

A short while ago, Roger was part of a gallery show, in the Roaring Fork Valley. He and a Northern Colorado painter had done some collaborative work together, which was now being presented. That evening, each of their pieces were sold, some of them for close to a thousand dollars. Both things surprised Roger, especially how much they were selling for. (These all were “simple” pieces: a handful of written lines from Roger, a similar number of brush-strokes from the painter.)

I’m in the process of taking on editing work, and I’ve been quibbling with myself, lately, about how much to charge. I’ve been doing small bits of editing work, gratis, for friends and colleagues for awhile. It feels odd and a little unsettling, thinking about charging folks, now. Within the last year or so, Roger has also begun charging for the same work he used to do as a favor for people. And it sounds like he struggled much more than I currently am in allowing himself to be paid. In fact, I’m not quite sure he’s gotten comfortable with it, yet.

I’m still sorta shaking my head over this. Roger has had more than a handful of books published, and has gotten to travel to all sorts of nifty places due to his writing. It’s not at all uncommon to hear people utter his name in reverential tones. (I’m not alone in placing him on a pedestal.) All these and more, and yet he still questions the value of what he does. It didn’t/doesn’t make sense that someone of his caliber and renown would have these sorts of issues—at least not on the surface.

And so it goes. I’ve blogged about this, before. Somehow, some of us have difficulty discerning the value of what we do. You can hold thousands spell-bound with your words, have organizers clamoring to have you speak and/or present at their up-coming events, pack a bookstore when you come to sign your latest book—and, still, question the worth of what you do. Success doesn’t necessarily take away feelings of inadequacy, of not mattering. In fact, it can aggravate those same self-perceptions by making you feel even more like a fake.

And, perhaps, just maybe, I might be calling the kettle black, here. After all, I’ve had scads of folks who know about such things compliment my own writing, over and over again. In fact, Roger is one of my biggest cheerleaders. You’d think having my writing being admired by a writer whom I admire would be enough to dispel any niggling perceptions I have about my writing; however…

How about you? Do you feel you own talents are lacking—even though you’ve been told otherwise? If so, what’s up with that?

(I don’t know, either.)

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And, speaking of valuing your talents, this picture was taken during my second night, here. For the close of their author event, that evening, Between the Covers had scheduled a jam session. Only a single musician showed up with his instrument. Nonetheless, even though it was only him, here he is, jamming away.

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Filed under Changing Perspective, Honoring Your Writing and Your Being a Writer

Yearly Book Acquisition

Last week, I ordered books from the local independent bookstore. It was my yearly book-buying gig. Each Octoberish, I get the latest edition of Best American Short Stories, and Best American Essays. This time, I also ordered Best American Poetry and Best Spiritual Writing. They arrived Monday, (Two days before the DVD order I placed at Amazon, on the same day, arrived. Go Independents!), and I picked them up yesterday. (Actually, Best Spiritual Writing was from last year. Seems there’s not to be one, this year. Grrr…)

I’ve been getting Best American Short Stories every year for two decades. Some years ago, I managed to get copies of previous years’ editions. I now have each year’s edition beginning with 1978. Best American Essays, I’ve only been getting each year for the last five years or so. During my last visit to Telluride, I bought Best American Poetry for 2011 and 2012, at the Independent Bookseller there. I liked them so much, I’ve added it to the yearly list. I planned to include Best Spiritual Writing, but now… I used to get them each year, but fell outta that habit. Bums me that when I’ve gotten “back” into the habit, it’s looking like I’ll not be able to continue it.

I began my writing life wanting to be a short story writer, then I branched out into essays. Most recently, I’ve had more luck with essays than shorts; and poetry is wide-opening itself. I think my writing, and especially my essays, tends toward the spiritual. It’s because these are where I see and want my writing to go/be is why I’m seeing what’s the best of what’s out there, each year.

So, now, I’ve got some reading work ahead of me. There’s far worse work to have.

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Telluride: Day One

My blogging about my time here feels self-indulgent and -involved, and even kinda icky. Who else would care about this? However, it has happened that when I’ve written stuff I thought no one would give a flip about, it’s turned out to matter to more people than I coulda imagined. Maybe it’ll happen again, here—another post from this series, if not this specific one.

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One practice I have for getting myself sorted out, that I haven’t practiced in ages, is getting outside and walking about. I knew Telluride had loads of trails and open space are pretty much everywhere. Thing is, I didn’t know where any trails were, especially any that an outta shape guy like I could do. So I emailed a friend who’s lived here for over twenty years, and she gave me some ideas. Also, while at the library yesterday, I came across a map of hiking trails, and one of the librarians called the local bookstore, who confirmed they had copies; so I went there and got one.

One such hike was to a waterfall that’s just half a mile from the end of a street. I went there, hung out for awhile, took some pictures that I posted on Facebook. I’ve been looking over my map, considering Rosemerry’s suggestions, and have begun plotting my “getting outside when your insides aren’t working” time.

Last night, I went to Art Walk, visiting a handful of galleries. Again, the simple act of getting out and about was better than staying inside for the hour or so I was walking. Too, Telluride is a different sort of magical, at night.

I can’t recall any insights during either of my walks, to the waterfall or Telluride at night, but ideas for writing have been frequent—which could be proof-positive that I am a writer, that being so is an essential aspect of who I am. However, while at the library, yesterday, I began seeing my behavior during the previous evening’s concert in a different light.

In addition to being a watcher of people, I also delight in seeing people enjoying themselves. Even moreso, I delight in seeing the light come on in their eyes when they see a little more clearly how nifty and special they are. Parking myself on the periphery, watching and taking mental notes, isn’t a bad (dark) thing. Rather, it’s essential to allowing me to see people in their natural state, to witness the uniqueness that sets them apart, that is their gift to share with others. It’s my own uniqueness and gift. (But I still need to be engaged, eventually getting off the sidelines.)

Today’s the start of the second day. It’s time for me to get out and see what it brings.

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Filed under Sorting It Out