The Lighthouse Writers Top-Secret Blog

All the latest news, ideas, and opinions from Denver's Independent Literary Center: lighthousewriters.org

Eight Secret Reasons I’m Going on the Fairplay Retreat

The Fairplay library, where books smell of old.

1. I’m chasing down an old dream. My husband, Luke, and I actually considered moving to Fairplay when I first moved back to Colorado a few years ago. I didn’t have a job and thought a life in the mountains would cure me of urban ennui. When we crested Kenosha Pass  en route to speak to a Fairplay realtor, vivid memories came back: eating PB&J’s with my parents under aspen trees all astutter, driving up to see the flames of fall on a trip home from college in Louisiana and knowing that I’d left my heart of hearts in Colorado. Kenosha empties out into one of the state’s most stunning valleys—a sun-washed blanket freckled with silver ponds, the expanse of unedited space running from tires to mountain tips. Lo and behold, I exclaimed to Luke, driving through town: a cool looking library and an ice cream shop! Coming into Fairplay on that search of ours for somewhere ideal to live, I noted to him that all I need to live happily in a place are books I can rent and piles of praline ice cream. I have since realized that such simple pleasantries are only such because of all the Yogurtlands and ‘70s libraries easily accessible in Denver (both of which I visit most days of the week). As it turns out, a weekend in the mountains carries as far—if not further—than a permanent home there.

2. A more obvious and universal reason—my writing schedule at home looks like this: pour water over teabag, watch water swirl with spices, clean bathtub, sink into suds, think about what I could have written yesterday, find a book that in some way connects to what I could have written yesterday, get out of bath, watch more tea. Did you see any writing in there? Me neither. Me either? I hope to brush up on basic grammar in Fairplay as well.

3. While I should be lesson planning at work, I’ve secretly been poking around the top-secret rosters to see how the Fairplay attendants could benefit me. Besides the fact that everyone who’s going is intimidatingly smart, something else piqued my interest. If Tiffany Tyson happens to bring the lemony scones she brought to the Colson event (the ones with a crispy crust webbed with white frosting and yielding to the most perfectly sculpted biscuit, at once firm and flaky), it will be worth my tuition.

4. I remember something else from my trip to Fairplay with Luke. The women who work at the liquor store—a slanted cabin with dusty bottles belying a surpisingly impressive wine collection—are plump and sweet as southern grocers.

5. We did not buy a place in Fairplay. Luke dreams of waking up to elk within shooting range of a sloped front porch. So we ended up getting ice cream cones and driving out to Hartsel where the houses sit so spread apart all I could think was: I’ll go crazy out here and my mom’s minivan won’t make it up any of these unplowed roads when I call her crying for company in the middle of winter. Which leads me to reason number three: I need a good mixture of people and no people to write. A quaint town, a well-stocked workshop, and a room to myself are what the word doctor ordered.

6. The names of the rooms at the Hand Hotel promise to inspire creativity: The Miner, the Trapper, the Outlaw, Silverheels, Mattie Silk, School Marm, Nature, China Mary, the Rancher, the Indian, and Grandma Hand. Well, all of them except “Nature.” Maybe those of us attending could propose an alternative? Hear, hear! Another reason to attend!

7. Another more obvious reason: I’m certain Bill and Erika’s workshops will make me smarter. Also in attendance will be Shana Kelly, a former literary agent turned freelance editor. I will bring a query. I will try and dismiss the sinking feeling I get when I hear the word “query.” I will use this weekend as a time to acknowledge that one of the reasons I haven’t finished my book is because I’m not only afraid of writing queries; I’m afraid of finishing the book itself.

8. A grand finale, combo package of reasons: Fairplay is the largest town in Park County; the community was named by settlers who promised equal treatment to all citizens; they hold a festival every July where the main feature is a 29-mile burro race to the 13,000 foot summit of Mosquito Pass; and perhaps most importantly it’s the town upon which the T.V. show South Park is based. I’m hoping for a weekend inspired by other writers and by images: of equanimity, of stubborn beasts bouldering uphill, of funny characters like Kenny.

One comment on “Eight Secret Reasons I’m Going on the Fairplay Retreat

  1. tqtyson
    November 3, 2010

    Oh, hooray! I’m so glad you’ll be among the Fairplay rabble. Can’t wait to hear more of your knee-slappingly funny prose. For you, I’ll bring scones. Maybe even cookies. Can’t wait.

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This entry was posted on November 3, 2010 by in Uncategorized.

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