Book Camp

Book Camp 2023, Day 4

Today began with a super secret project at the grandparents’ house. From all accounts, the project was smashing.

The remainder of the day has been fairly subdued, with writing giving way to television, video games, napping, and chatting. Strangely, these middle parts where nothing much happens are the umami of book camp. They are the warm, savory taste of book camps gone by.

We’ve discussed dandelions quite a lot this book camp. As an unwanted weed, a dandelion is detritus. A dandelion represents a compelling narrative of the inevitability of loss while reminding the world that nothing is ever truly lost. The fluff of a dandelion is well recognized as a metaphor for wanderlust. And dandelions thrive in the dirt, are always trying to get back to it.

Each camper received a piece of jewelry filled with one or more fluffs of dandelion suspended in resin. The jewelry serves as a reminder of book camp, a reminder of the power of wishing, a reminder that we must let go of one beautiful thing (the cheerful petals) for the next beautiful thing (fluff) to come into its own.

I learned years ago that a dandelion, when picked at its yellow height and thrown into the lawn waste, will still fluff. It’s power to transform is not in the soil, the sun, or its own root but in the thing itself. What if we each believed the same transforming power to surge through ourselves?

To round out our pre-supper activities, Camper 4 and I hashed out a new concept to cowrite. We drew it all over the white board while sitting on the concrete floor. One thought built on another or digressed and before we knew it we were both hooked. I adore that kind of creative chemistry!

Until tomorrow…

Book Camp

Book Camp 2023, Day 3

As I write this from my bed, the tv sound system continues to rumble its siren song. Something about cars, being fast, being continually and increasingly furious. But sleep calls to me, and I soon will answer.

The day was…remarkable in that it was almost wholly unremarkable. A secret project continued. Packages arrived. Words were written. Ideas discussed. Supper made. Entertainment entertaining.

One adventurous writer has chosen to write a short story in a set of haikus. The concept is beauty and tragedy bound by a rigid syllabic pattern.

Another writer is taking an intensely literal route in telling of dirt. The assistant director said, you don’t have to be so literal. I added: But you can be. Behind many literal stories are metaphors, perhaps unintended by the author but there nonetheless. The human condition is storied. And humans find stories where others saw only piles of words.

We have a medieval knight tale brewing. We have a story cloaked in secrecy. And then there’s me.

I haven’t told a proper story in a long while. Like exercising any muscle after ages of disuse, writing this week has come slowly and in full lack of coordination. I didn’t remember how to story. Or how to idea. From whence do ideas come? How does one incite ideas to flow? What you may not know is that creative work takes a good growing season, fine slow roasting, a steady grind, measured selections, and unhasty percolation. The negative difference in any one facet spoils the taste. What kills creativity? A poverty of time. Rushing. Shortcuts. Full jumps to the end.

I’ve not spent time sowing creativity as of late. My harvest is slight. My time feels short. But feelings aren’t objective reality—though what truly is? Time passes whether I create or don’t. How did I let the savor suffer so long?

And so I return to process. Hands in fertile soil. Watchfully plucking the mature fruit. Making busy my hands while the fruit roasts and readies. It is a process longer than a week and one that self perpetuates when allowed. The land must be worked and the machines oiled. But the stories will someday flow again

Goodnight my campers and goodnight my readers. I go to walk the rows of fledgling notions.

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