Thursday, April 8, 2010


One of the workshop sessions I attended at the Northern Colorado Writers Conference in March was "Intimate Emotions, Universal Themes & Synchronicity" presented by author and writing coach Page Lambert.  (By the way, Page's memoir "In Search of Kinship" was a Rocky Mountain bestseller and her novel "Shifting Stars" was a finalist for the Mountains and Plains Bookseller's Award.)  In this workshop Page talked about some of the synchronicities that happened while writing "Shifting Stars", a book born from stories/memories surrounding her own grandmother.  Page shared that she allowed herself to "become" her grandmother as she wrote, thinking, feeling as her grandmother might have, and in turn it brought deep, honest emotion to her character.

Page read from "Shifting Stars" using a distinct voice for each character.  Her personal journey had many synchronicities--from choosing the title, to literal shifting stars, which referred to Haley's Comet crossing the sky above the plains in 1832, to a letter from her grandmother written in 1910 where she talked about seeing the comet, unbeknownst to Page beforehand, to the Native American phrase "shifting stars" which also references the comet.  Truly an amazing example of generational synchronicities!

This theme struck a chord with me since I had recently written a short story about my Swedish great-grandparents who settled in Minnesota's wilderness in the 1860s, a heart-breaking story of tragedy and loss.  Today I received notification that my short story "Prairie Promises" won First Place in the Talking Stick contest sponsored by the Jackpine Writers Bloc in Park Rapids, Minnesota, and will be published in Talking Stick-Volume 19, set for release in September.  The reward for me comes as an affirmation for what we choose to write about. 

Synchronicity...yes, I think I am familiar with it as well. 

In seven weeks I'll be on my way to the Vee Bar Guest Ranch near Laramie, Wyoming to participate in the Literature & Landscape of the Horse, a retreat hosted by Page Lambert.  I learned after signing up for this retreat that Page Lambert is a lifelong member of the the Bearlodge Writers group in Sundance, Wyoming.  It just so happens that the Bearlodge Writers co-sponsor a residency together with the nearby Devils Tower National Park.  In 2008 I won the residency, based on the opening pages of my manuscript "Seeds of Salton".  When I spent my full week at the Devils Tower I had the distinct sense that my being in that very place to write that book was no accident.  "Seeds of Salton" you see, is based on real people and real lives, and is set in the tiny town of Wibaux, Montana.  Wibaux sits on the border of Montana and North Dakota, where long ago two of the famous cattlemen who settled that part of the open range were a couple of rough riders named Teddy Roosevelt and Pierre Wibaux.  Teddy Roosevelt later became President of the United States and in that capacity established the first national monument in the country--the Devils Tower. 

Hmmm.  It's no wonder I look forward with great anticipation to Page Lambert's retreat in Wyoming.  Who knows what other interesting synchronicities might come our way.


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