A little over a week ago, I was deep in the woods at the Kanuga Conference Center near Asheville, North Carolina, sleeping in a cabin by night, and attending workshops by day. Kathleen Adams, her staff and volunteers organized a memorable weekend for Journal Conference 2016. I met so many accomplished, beautiful, open-hearted women (and a couple of beautiful, open-hearted men, too) and loved leading the Wild Voice, Wild Writing workshops. I’m still savoring the experience and the people and the writing and the stories and oh, yes, the full moon. (We howled!)
And then there was the bookstore. I have put myself on a book-buying diet the last few months. Ever since I imagined “the big one” hitting one morning during yoga practice and all my books tumbling down on me, I’ve been limiting buying, frequenting the library, and thinning out my bookshelves. But then, this happened:
It could have been much worse. Fortunately, I already have many of the books that were available in the conference bookstore, and also, I kept reminding myself that I was on this diet, and besides, I was in North Carolina, far, far from home and I wasn’t even going home after the conference. I was going on to St. Petersburg, to stay with friends for a few vacation days.
So, with those limitations and a ton of willpower, these are the few books I did purchase:
Your Brain on Ink: A Workbook on Neuroplasticity and the Journal Ladder, by Deborah Ross and Kathleen Adams
Such fascinating, interesting research is coming out of how the brain functions, all those neurons and chemistry and the symbiotic relationship of our receptive selves, our psychological selves, and our expressive selves—compelling stuff. Even the word “neuroplasticity,” intrigues. I’ve been a fan of Kathleen Adams since I discovered her book, Journal to the Self, way back when, and was honored when she invited me to contribute a chapter for another book she edited, Expressive Writing: Classroom and Community. Now I’m excited to see what new information she and her co-author, Deborah Ross, have in store for us.
The Art of Slow Writing, Reflections on Time, Craft and Creativity by Louise DeSalvo
This book has been on my “want” list for some time. I’m already a believer from my own experience and from what I’ve been taught by my best teachers. I preach the gospel of slow down, too. But sometimes it’s good to be reminded of why we do this and how we do it. I haven’t cracked this book open yet, but I expect it will be littered with sticky notes and highlighter as soon as I do.
At Journal Conference 2016, I wasn’t able to participate in Ann Linnea’s morning workshop that took writers out in nature, though I did see them all tromping by as I led my own workshop. Knowing I was going from the Conference in North Carolina to visit good friends in Florida, one of whom is a tree-keeper and tree-lover, I wanted to get Ann’s book as a gift. The true stories of other Keepers of the Trees are accompanied by gorgeous photographs. An altogether beautiful book by a beautiful writer.
Why We Write About Ourselves, edited by Meredith Maran
This book is subtitled Twenty Memoirists on Why They Expose Themselves (and Others) in the Name of Literature. I’m doing quite a lot of research into writing memoirs these days. I love the genre, and have read scores of memoirs as well as worked with writers who are writing their stories. Yet I’ve always been one of those who thought “my life, who cares?” But of late, I’ve been thinking more about journeys I’ve taken and pilgrimages I’ve made and the idea of containing these stories within the memoir structure may be the next long-commitment writing I want to do. We’ll see. Meantime, I’m gathering information.
I bought both the book and accompanying card deck. The book is aimed at young mothers, and though I am a mother, I am far from young. But I was so inspired by Tina Games, her presence and her lightness of spirit, that I wanted to have her book and the accompanying deck.
The photo above also shows my scrabbled red spiral-bound that I wrote in and made notes in and the Journal Conference swag bag I carried around all weekend. But the bag has no zipper so no way to securely pack all the new books and there’s no way I was going to try to carry all of them aboard the plane. And my suitcase—well, if you know me at all, you know there was no room left in there to pack even one more thing. This glitterly salute to South Carolina was all I could find at the small Greenville/Spartanburg airport so I could check the books to my next stop—St. Petersburg, FL—where I have not bought any more books, but then, I haven’t left yet either.
How does your willpower measure against buying books?