These last few days have been rather delightful if I say so myself. Most of Friday and Saturday were spent at the Red Dirt Book festival in Shawnee with my friend Rachel and her Mom.The festival itself far exceeded my expectations. There were a smorgasboard o of seminars (mostly roundtable discussions with published authors) you could go to with lots of difficult decisions (argghhhh! I so hated to miss the sesssion on the Black Experience in Oklahoma).
The seminars I attended covered these subjects…
- How to get published by traditional means
- The Writer’s Discipline
- A sense of place — Oklahoma Poetry (probably my favorite)
That last one was especially good as it featured a large panel of successful authors (some poetry, some other genres.. children’s literature and non-fiction are the ones I remember) who were either Okies or former Okies (as if there is such a thing if you ever were truly an Okie)
I guess the panel was supposed to speak about poetry as related to Oklahoma, but they mostly ended up rhapsoidzing about their love for the land, for the culture, for what is truly Oklahoman. It is hard to explain now why this moved me so much, but to hear these beautiful souls speak of the land that they loved just melted me.
Even writing about now I get emotional… I guess I feel like the character Jodie Foster played in the movie Contact when she said on her incredible mission, “They should have sent a poet!” … that’s how I felt like when I heard these folks speak. I guess I felt my soul sing because they recognized the very things that I love so much.
The whole experience was musical, it was glorious, it was so special beyond the most of sacred of beliefs, to hear these people talk about places that we love so much. These places are ignored by many and wouldn’t even capture the eye of most people who would drive through them, but these are places of unspeakable beauty none the less.
I gotta find my notes from this seminar later to jot down some of the beautiful things they said, but the things that stick out in my mind right now, was how so many of them spoke of the Cross Timbers region of Oklahoma as being a metaphor for the meeting of two very different things, and also how they spoke of Oklahoma’s beauty as being a subtle thing that you have to take time to get know.
It is weird really now to explain this wihout sounding sappy but it was moving . . . (Ok, we’re off on another tangent, but it does connect)… I was talking to a friend recently about the future and about where i wanted to settle once school and everything is over. I said what was hard about moving back to Oklahoma was that I really had fallen in love with Austin (and still do love it, very much), and that leaving Austin was like leaving a woman that you love. And for me, now that I have fallen in love with Oklahoma all over again, I don’t think I could go through the heartache of loving a place and leaving it again (or even worse falling in love with the new place too so that my soul is split in three) It is weird but loving a place is a lot like loving a woman, and both are equally joyous and misreable, and yet I can’t live without love. (or maybe better, I don’t want to live without love)
OK… enough of those thoughts. (I felt the need to jot that down here as I might want to write more about that stuff later)
As far as what I took away from the seminar, of course I bought a ton of books (one neat little novel by an elderly guy from Drumwright, Oklahoma about the early days of settling in Indian Territory; several books on Oklahoma History; a poetry anthology… oh and also a neat ballcap from the Oklahoma Historical Society that has an embroidered design that was taken from one of the murals in their building that was painted by one of the Kiowa Five.), but more importantly I took away a burning desire to write and a rememberance that I like writing a whole lot more than I do law.
I guess I’ll finish this L-school gig because being a lawyer to make ends meet is way better than some of the other options that I would be stuck with (i.e. substitute teaching, telemarketing, food service, or even ministry for that matter) but in the end it WILL NOT be my life but rather a means to an end. (and if it ever is, please somebody shoot me)
As to the particulars of what this means, I will continue on my project of writing a commentary on the Four Gospels of Jesus (that is going well, I now have 100+ pages of notes that I’m converting into something more useable… I anticipate the final volume to run around 400 pages) but also would like to start doing a poetry again, and maybe a book on the L-school experience (sorry I can’t give more details on that one, but I think it actually has a chance of being commerciallly viable and I don’t want to see someone else write the book first).
I also will just force myself to make writing a regular part of my schedule, be it blogging or writing books. Most often the priority will be on books which will mean this blog will suffer, but I am going to keep the blog rolling as little scribble pad to jot down what speaks to me in life, so that I can refer to it later… and besides other folks might find these things interesting.