Thursday, July 29, 2010

Before and After the Grapes

Chautauqua; a beautiful enclave of creative, intellectual thought and meditation. It is such a hard place to describe. It's built around an ampitheater that houses daily lectures, creative discussions and a host of evening perfomances...symphonies, operas and even the Oakridge Boys!

A maze of streets with ornate, gingerbread style houses weave their way down to the sea, Lake Chautauqua. The Athenaeum Hotel with its wide porches and large wicker rockers welcomes visitors from all walks of life. There are churches of all denominations and people from birth to 90 and beyond. Small boarding houses, condominiums, larger single family homes and mansions crowd the space along the shore. But there's a balance of open park space and walking trails too.

In the upcoming days, I hope to wrap my mind around this wonderful Chautauqua experience. I was transformed by the company of adventurers that joined me while I was there. We were seekers, set on a journey to explore the craft and the ideal of writing and storytelling for children. But first we had to come to know ourselves...just a little bit more.

On the last night, Kent Brown, former publisher at Boyds' Mill Press and founder of the Highlights' Chautauqua Institute for Children's Writers, spoke of a time in his town where grapes were the currency of all that was done. The pay-off apparently, always came after the grapes were harvested. He asked us to think of our writing as not before or after grapes, but before and then after Chautauqua. I feel like I crossed a bridge as a writer during that week's adventure in Chautauqua. It sure was a Utopian place to be. I'll be passing along the little bits I experienced there in the upcoming week, and in that...I hope to process it all myself!


Laurie Smith Murphy said...

Sounds like heaven to me, Gael. I'm so glad you had the opportunity to attend this conference and to savor every writing morsel. Can't wait to hear more...

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Paul C said...

What an interesting, stimulating setting for a writer's conference.

gael lynch said...

It was a wonderful setting for a writer's conference, but in a way...I do think the people were what really made it. What a dynamic group! The interactions with authors and editors were so genuine and slow-paced. None of that high-pressured stuff of the big conferences we writers all know! I highly recommend it! Thanks for stopping by!

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