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Monday, May 30, 2011

More Zona Rosa in France

The week flew by, and it is almost unbelievable that my retreat is over and I am on my way back to Georgia, via London. In order to save money, I booked a flight through London, even though it meant
changing airports in London. It saved me $500. And it was no problem. Shuttles run continuously from Heathrow and Gatwick airports, and the transition went smoothly.

To attempt to sum up my experience in Aix is a daunting challenge for me, and I will probably be writing about it for some time. There was so much good there. The weather was perfect - warm during the days and refreshingly cool in the evenings. It was the ideal backdrop for the intensive and gratifying experience of being surrounded by accomplished writers.

This is Rosemary, beautiful in red.

We were all there for ourselves, of course, but we were also there for one another, to offer encouragement as well as gentle constructive criticism. For the first time in my life I know in my heart that I am a writer - a poet before all else but also a decent writer of essays.

Yes, I am indeed a writer. I am reminded of a question posed to me not long ago at work. A colleague asked me what I did when I was not working. I told her that I spent much of my time writing. Her response? “No, what do you really do? She assigned no value to my love of words and the joy of writing them down. Because of this Zona Rosa retreat, when I am questioned about what I do, I can honestly say, “I’m a writer, a poet.”

I came away from this experience empowered to embrace my true writer’s self. The women there validated my work, even praised it, much to my surprise. Rosemary, my writing mentor, was the one who suggested I answer the “What do you do?” question by replying, “I am a writer.”

I accomplished two of the three of my goals for the retreat. Two of the poems I took to work on are now finished pieces, ready to replace the ones I previously posted on My Poems because I didn’t know what to do with them. The third is in total rewrite and will be ready soon. I will ask Rosemary to critique it before posting it - or maybe not. I now have a certain trust in my ability now, and if I believe the poem is worthy of posting, I will post it. I’m a real writer now. Remember?

Above is a photo of a ceramics booth. Below on the right is a booth of linen scarves.

During my week in Aix, I shopped at the street markets, buying trinkets and scarves. I took a tour of the city, which drove us past Cezanne’s atelier, or studio, where he painted many of his masterpieces. There was no time to visit the studio itself, so I have another reason to return to Aix. We also saw many of the city’s famous fountains.

We ate Provençal food, drank what seemed like gallons of wine - the Rosé was fresh and wonderful, not at all like the sweet stuff that sometimes passes for Rosé here in the states. I soaked up the light, the famous light so influential in Cezanne’s decision to go there to paint. It was a magic time, refreshing and regenerating, and I came away with a sense of empowerment about my writing and about myself.


Katie Gates said...

This post made me cry, CJ. Empathic tears, from one empowered writer to another. Welcome back.

Amanda said...

I admit I feel a certain amount of envy. :) But I'm also glad that you got to experience this!

Anonymous said...

I have got over the delight of seeing that you have been to a place I love and am now commenting 'proper'. Well, you certainly are a writer, any one of us could have told you that but 'finding oneself' is an important step in realising this.So glad you now feel it in your heart. When asked, I always say I am a writer and then go on to say what I do to earn money (not always the same thing of course.My middle sister once introduced me to an old friend she thought should remember me from childhood as,"Debbie,she has four children," Ok I increased that to five but I was quite stunned to be thus introduced! I almost said, "Hey, this is me over here and I am a writer" ;-)

Sue said...

Of course you're a writer!

And what a wonderful experience you've had coming to that realization.


injaynesworld said...

What a dream trip and a wonderful gift to give yourself. I very happy for you, my friend. Let your light shine brightly. It's a gift you give the world.

Olive Tree said...

You are a writer and I'm glad you can proudly say that now. Don't put too much thoughts on people that can't appreciate your talent in writing. Bravo to you. Thank you for stopping by and commenting on my blog post earlier in the week. I apologize for responding late.

Rosemary Daniell said...

Claudia, you are the person who made me decide that blogs are worthwhile. As you'll see from mine at rosemarydaniell.wordpress.com, I was at first against them, as I felt they took up too much of a writer's creative energies. But instead, yours have consistently knocked me out, and at the same time, I've seen your poetry grow and deepen as it's never done before. I also see before you -- after years of writing in many forms -- becoming the writer you were meant to be. Claudia, I'm so happy to both watch your transformation into that beautiful woman and writer, and to have you as a friend and longtime sister in Zona Rosa! Rosemary Daniell, author of SECRETS OF THE ZONA ROSA: HOW WRITING (AND SISTERHOOD) CAN CHANGE WOMEN'S LIVES, and seven other books of poetry and prose