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Dear Julie Gammack,
The Okoboji Writers’ Retreat
Words fail me--but I’ll try anyway.
As you know, I love my work and my life, and am extremely busy and so caught up in everything I do here that I seldom want to take time away from it.
I recognized over the three days of the Okoboji Writers’ Retreat that I had created a self-imposed cage, and you opened up the door and dragged me through it.
I hadn’t known that there was a cage, a door, or that I could--and should--walk through it.
So thank you.
For me, it was like in the middle of the movie the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy first arrived in Oz, and the movie turns from black and white to color.
I met some fantastic people. I’m not going to mention any names of participants/mentors because so many educated, inspired, and enriched me that I don’t want to leave anyone out.
I felt soaked with insight and left with my tired old worn-out brain healed and rebooted.
So much in society pulls us apart; race, age, gender, economic status, etc., but none of it mattered. We were all writers in all shapes and sizes, colors, and hues and wanted to learn and help each other. As one wise mentor/participant told us, we arrived with our individual identities, but together we rose above them.
I laughed countless times, teared up three times, and got goosebumps once.
I’ve deepened friendships that were already deep. Friendships that I didn’t know could be deeper but now are. I met one young man and one young woman, both young enough to be my grandchildren that I now feel I have known forever, in past lives or other dimensions, if I believed in that kind of thing, which I don’t see any reason not to.
This probably doesn’t make sense, but even though they are young enough to be my grandchildren, the retreat made us the same age, at least in my head. And I absorbed their wisdom.
I’m grateful to the staff and hosts at the Lakeside Labs, working tirelessly in the background as we wandered about, mostly oblivious to their essential role in providing the infrastructure necessary for us to thrive.
I’m also grateful that Alice Meyer with Beaverdale Books featured our works and appreciated Richard’s hand on the rudder, keeping the ship on an even keel.
You are a treasure, an indomitable woman whose kindness knows no depth or breadth. Your gifts are bounteous and endless. All of us are richer because your gentle hand guides us.
I’m part of a wonderful group of writers Julie pulled together, the Iowa Writers Collaborative. I’m honored to be a part of the group and pleased to report the Iowa Capital Dispatch is featuring some of our work. If you can afford it, please support our work.
Here we are, in alphabetical order.
Laura Belin: Iowa Politics with Laura Belin
Doug Burns: The Iowa Mercury
Dave Busiek: Dave Busiek on Media
Art Cullen: Art Cullen’s Notebook
Suzanna de Baca Dispatches from the Heartland
Debra Engle: A Whole New World
Julie Gammack: Julie Gammack’s Iowa Potluck
Beth Hoffman: In the Dirt
Dana James: New Black Iowa
Robert Leonard: Deep Midwest: Politics and Culture
Chuck Offenburger: Iowa Boy Chuck Offenburger
Mary Swander: Mary Swander’s Buggy Land
Ed Tibbetts: Along the Mississippi