Survey for writing events!

[I’m not sure how many of you—my dear readers!—might be interested in my online writing sessions and workshops, but I thought I’d share this survey with all of you just in case. Note below, too, I am looking for someone to help with my November writing retreat. Please email me at riba11@earthlink.net if you are available.]

Please take this survey to provide feedback on upcoming writing events!
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/BPF6FQP

There are only 10 questions, and the survey is anonymous. I want to find out the best times to offer the new online writing sessions, find out about the cost, gather ideas for upcoming sessions on the writing process and the craft of writing and hear your ideas and dreams about possible future events.

I took the survey VERY slowly, including extra comments and not just checking the boxes, and spent close to 7 minutes, so I know it can be completed in 5 minutes or less. I would really appreciate it if you can take the time to weigh in on these things to help me plan future sessions, especially the online sessions.

Once you submit, it will show you the current results. I’ll plan to report the final results, as well. The survey closes at midnight on Halloween.

Thanks very much in advance!

Riba

P.S. I am also looking for someone who may be interested in helping out at the November writing retreat for a reduced rate. Please contact me as soon as possible for more details.

_________________________________

Riba Taylor
https://noholdsbarred.blog/
https://499words.org/

Mingled (28)

I walk back down my gravel driveway after taking out the trash. I see a lone guayaba on the ground, bend to pick it up, turn it over. It’s beautiful, ripe and unmarred, untouched by bird or desert rat. The very last one, I suspect. I’d thought the two I ate three days ago would be the end of them. I stand cradling the small perfect fruit in my palm, this sweet surprise. I thank my guayaba tree, kiss a patch of smooth dark trunk between the lovely peeling bark skin. I feel lucky and grateful. Then I move, gentle, through the big palm fronds that brush my trailer, and I feel my sadness. Is it because of my family? Maybe. Maybe it is that. And maybe it is touched by autumn, too, the changing light, the ending in this, the movement toward the new. I love the changing of the seasons, the anticipation in that coming to be. But it’s a time of letting go, too. When I was young I always felt a kind of longing in the fall. I called it “autumn aches.” Maybe what I feel today is that. And maybe I feel the earth’s sorrow, as well. I open my wooden gate, careful of the guayaba I am holding. The Mexican petunias are a wild splash of purple in the center of the courtyard, a volunteer sunflower, big new bloom, beside them. I stop inside the gate, press the guayaba to my lips, breathe the scent of it. The sparrows lift back into the bougainvillea, soft movement, brushstroke on paper. The sadness, I tuck away. I’ll carry it with me, let it live, quiet, just beneath this joy.

Awakening (27)

I turn off the ringer on the phone, curl up on my side for a late nap, driven by desire and need. I send up a small prayer, to wake before the moon sets behind our mountains, before the last of the light leaves the sky. Anxiety has my fingers moving against the pillowcase. I hear their noise and stop. I let my angst sink back into the earth. The scritchery noise again, callouses against cotton. Again I let my anxiety seep out of me. I do this over and over, and then I sink into sleep. I go deep. I’m surprised when I wake in only half an hour, already this swift shortening of our days. But, oh, when I wake. The ridge of our mountains a clear silhouette against the last light of the sky, palest amber tint. The fat waxing crescent moon hanging just above the ridge, the first thing I see when I open my eyes, bright greeting, dear companion, answer to prayer.

Today (26)

Sweep. Sweep the courtyard. Yell at the big red ants. They are everywhere, traveling again and again into the path of my broom. The mess from the birds, black oil sunflower seed shells, kernel-less now. Bird shit, too, accumulates until the next good rain. Love the birds, I tell myself, accept the mess. But sometimes I yell. “Too many,” I call to the sky after them, when 40 mourning doves take wing, startled. Their wingbeats fan more mess onto the cement, and the ants roam, searching for treasure. I yell at them, too, some days. But other days I just move from spot to spot with the broom, avoiding their pathways. When I’m able to do this, to move again and again in order to sweep an ant-free space, letting go of wanting an unencumbered trajectory and my desire to finish, I can circle back again, and it just works, easy. Today, the ants are fewer, slower, maybe because last night was cooler, our first real touch of desert autumn. Today, I feel tender toward each one. I circle, calm. I even wait more than once toward the end for one ant and then another to move away, patient. When I finish, I’m struck by the beauty of this messy pile. Today, a handful of bright yellow tecoma blossoms amid the shell casings, the feathers, the papery dried bougainvillea blooms, the mound of fine, dark desert dust. And one lone purple Mexican petunia blossom still stuck to the bristles of the broom.

Divine Intervention (25)

I set two small pots of water on the stove to boil for tea, so I can put them in the fridge tonight before I go to bed, tending to tomorrow. I crank closed the back louvered windows, turn the swamp cooler down to low for the night, ordinary tasks. I try the door, surprised to find it unlocked. I walk out into the warm dark, no moon, but there are stars and crickets. I stand in the small, open courtyard for a long time, then linger on my way back in, hand on the doorknob, not ready to relinquish being outside. There is a richness to it all, soft, silky layers, in part the almost-ending of our desert summer, I think. And I am still awash in my first foray into leading spontaneous writing online with Zoom, still bathed in the feeling of being with my three guinea pigs who came to help me do this test run, the feeling of the four of us together, our faces on my laptop screen, the unexpected warmth of it. I am certain they were sent by the gods. Our first writing prompt was about finding something extraordinary or nourishing in ordinary acts, and now my time with them imbues my everyday tasks tonight, awash in the extraordinariness of how we were together. Intimate, connected, easy, this collection of strangers, four women. We wrote together and then read our work, wonderful writing, thoughtful comments on each piece, laughing together, heartfelt, delighted. I can’t stop grinning. A remarkable evening, one of those unlooked for gifts, that easy balance between us, the give and take. Charmed, impromptu, dear.

Online spontaneous writing sessions!

Hi everyone.

I’m launching online spontaneous writing meetings beginning next week! (Our test session was wonderful.) We will write together, read our work and share positive feedback. These will be through Meetup and use the Zoom videoconferencing software. They are fee-based events. RSVP at Desert Writing Group (Meetup site).

I’ve scheduled some upcoming meetings on Wednesdays (7 to 9pm) and Thursdays (11am to 1pm). I’m not sure yet if these will become permanent meeting times or if we’ll meet on a more regular schedule in the future. (For now, I am just building them around my existing commitments.)

I plan to offer “Process and Craft” sessions online, too. I’ll be sending out a survey for feedback on desired topics and time slots (as well as feedback on alternate time slots and frequency for the spontaneous writing sessions).

Thanks for reading, as always! :)

Riba
P.S. Spots are still available for the November writing retreat in Joshua Tree:
https://499words.org/retreat/
______________________

Riba Taylor
https://noholdsbarred.blog/

Writing retreat update

Hi everyone.

I wanted to let you know I’ve extended the deadline for the registration discount through next Saturday, September 22nd ($300 now / $400 after).

Spontaneous writing / creative nonfiction retreat
November 22nd through November 24th
11:30am Friday through 2:30pm Sunday
Joshua Tree Retreat Center
Joshua Tree, California

See retreat details here:
https://499words.org/retreat/

Please let me know if you have any questions. We are a small group so far, and I am pleased with that, but we still have room and welcome to offer if you are interested in joining us!

All good wishes,

Riba

_______________________
Riba Taylor
499words@earthlink.net