I spent a wonderful week at Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies last week. I was at a retreat aptly named Digging In. The retreat provided a space, with a wonderful group of supported, creative people, to work on a project without life getting in the way! Sounds a lot like grownup summer- camp for creatives to me.
I wasn’t sure which of many projects to attack so I choose 2 to take with me; Myrtle and Maude and Flamenco. Flamenco won out, somehow fairy tales and folklore didn’t fit in with all the documentary topics others were working on!
I dug into my travel journal I kept on my trip to Spain with my daughter, Liz, back in 2007. I know, this project has been sitting around a long time! For the first 2 days I read my journal, my collection of notes from my research and a book on the history of flamenco. I write best with pen and paper so I made copious new notes in my sketchbook. It all came back vividly along with excitement for my project.
My goal for the week was to formulate a plan of attack. How much history, how much first person memoir, and how many pictures….
I started with the bullfighting segment of the trip. I felt like this topic had a good balance of historical fact, terminology, and hopefully interesting insight into the goings on at our first bullfight. I showed my art and talked about my concepts at my small group meeting on Wednesday and was given the task of writing an introduction. Seems like a simple enough task but it took me all afternoon!
I have discovered or re-discovered why I don’t use my laptop much – I really missed my 2 large screens and my ergonomic keyboard. I decided to head home around 8:00 on Wednesday so that I could use my computer and revel in my space; much more time efficient. I also realized that I really missed my quiet time, sitting on the porch in the morning, sipping tea and reading so I decided to start Thursday in a rocker on the CDS front porch with hot chocolate! Wish I’d done that earlier in the week!
It was great to have a concrete draft to share at our morning meeting Thursday. I got a lot of good feedback. I had a one-on-one meeting after lunch with Jesse Dukes; he confirmed that the direction I had chosen was a good one and gave me several ideas to think about.
By the end of the day, we were all tired; a good tired but dragging just the same. I spent the afternoon in a cool basement room, laying in the floor to write. It was nice to know that anyone stumbling upon me wouldn’t think a thing about my position; only problem came when I tried to get up – oh my back!
Thursday night was the famous Big Shed cook-out with home-made ice cream on the porch. I lasted until 10 and then decided I’d better head to Raleigh while I was still very much awake. The music and dancing lasted until well after midnight! I think next year I may have to spend the night in Durham a few times.
Friday morning I got up early and typed up my new introduction before heading to Durham. It was soooo nice to not participate in the morning rush hour! I felt so much more relaxed and energized. Another thing I will have to remember next time.
My group loved my new introduction, it answered their questions from the first draft. It was a boost to have my writing praised and my photographs! Incentive to pursue my project to the end!
I hate to confess that I skipped out after lunch Friday and came home to take a much needed nap! Then I finished up my presentation for the wrap up Saturday morning in time to go out to dinner with my family!
Saturday started out nice and relaxed until my car started making funny noises on my way to Starbucks for my morning hot chocolate. After going back home and switching cars, well on my way to Durham, I realized that I was close to running on empty! On the positive side, there was no traffic so I made good time and I wasn’t the last one there. I hate standing up in front of people to give a presentation so when I saw the podium on the stage, I almost pretended that my car had stranded me in Raleigh! Spending a week with this group of caring, creative people eased my fears and I hardly noticed I was up on the stage.
It is sad how quickly life jumps back in the way. Once home, there was laundry to do, bills to pay, and a filthy house to name just a few disruptions. Hopefully finding the time to work on my book will be a little easier because with their help, I believe in it again. Only an hour a day is 5 (to 7) hours a week; you can get a lot done in that amount of time. I can do it!
I’ve friended the other participants on FaceBook so that I can get to know them better and watch the progress on their work. This should also keep me on track and accountable; I’ll want to share too!