Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Firewalkers Retreat

My critique group is getting together for a writing retreat this weekend, and I think it's time to start gearing up for it. We leave mid-day Thursday and get back Monday night -- which is just about five days away from reality, with only me and my laptop, good friends, chocolate, and Angie's world-famous guacamole!!!!! I'm telling you, life doesn't get much better.

I first met Jo Ann about 13 years ago, I think. Maybe 14. We met at a writing conference in a workshop we both attended. Something clicked, and we've been friends ever since. Jo Ann and I share high internal thermostats, so when the others are whining about the room being cold, Jo and I just smile at each other and nudge the thermostat a little lower. In spite of her love of air-conditioning, she is happiest when she's nursing sick cattle or mending fences, or taking her turn with the irrigation water. She thinks a town with a population of 100 is seriously overcrowded.

Teresa came along a couple of years later. She joined our local writing group and volunteered to be my Vice-President the year I decided I'd be President. What can I say? It's a small group and it was my turn. Nobody actually "runs" for office, we just agree to do the job. Anyway, I made a big mistake with Teresa. She looked kind of quiet and shy and withdrawn, and I wasn't sure she'd have enough oomph to be an effective Vice-President, but she was the only willing sucker to step up to the plate, so I welcomed her with open arms. Turns out, looks can be deceiving. Teresa has more oomph and gumption than five people her size, and she's an extremely effective leader. She has my vote for any position she ever wants. She is, to use an old, tired cliche (because it's midnight and my brain feels old and tired) dynamite, pure and simple.

Not Angie's actual guacamole.
And then there's Angie. Angie is not only a friend and critique partner, she's also my cousin. Now the thing you have to keep in mind is that my dad is 19 years older than Angie's dad. My Uncle Ralph was born while my dad was off fighting World War II. My dad never even saw Ralph until Ralph was about 2 years old. Angie is a few years younger than my oldest daughter, so when the kids were all little, she seemed more like my kids' cousin than mine. For me, Angie has been the biggest surprise of all. Maybe because I didn't expect my "little" cousin to turn out to be such an incredible woman with such an immense heart and magnificent talent. Maybe because I didn't expect her to be such a complex individual with tremendously deep insight. Yeah, I know. My fault for short-changing her.

The point is, after a good 8 years or more together, the four of us have become extremely close. For all our differences, we also share a good many similarities. Top priority for our group is absolute honesty so we can have absolute trust. These women are the members of my critique group, and we do write. We even critique each other's work from time to time. They'll be telling me what they think of the opening scenes of Peppermint Twisted this weekend. But mostly the Firewalkers is about trust and about laughter (lots of laughter) and about chocolate, and about having a soft place to fall when the world gets too rough. And, of course, it's also about Angie's guacamole.

photo credit: OMG GUAC via photopin (license)

No comments: