Posted on Leave a comment

Fall Creative Retreat Opportunity

This retreat is sponsored by MSTA but is open to the public. I am posting it ahead of the June newsletter because I got the info this week and thought some of you may want to register. Registration opens May 1.


Registration opens May 1 for fall Creative Retreat

Take time to slow down at MSTA’s annual retreat for creative people along the scenic banks of the Jacks Fork River in the historic Ozark Waterways. There will be time to learn and time to create. Participants will stay in rustic cabins and enjoy family-style meals in the dining hall. Grab a friend and register early! Registration opens May 1.

Brought to you by the Missouri State Teachers Association, the retreat is open to the public. The registration fee is $240 for MSTA members; $280 for nonmembers. Includes workshop fee and lodging in shared cabins Friday and Saturday; three meals on Saturday, and breakfast and lunch on Sunday. Questions? Please contact Sarah Kohnle at, 800-392-0532

Learn more and register at

Your choice of two tracks (each limited to 15 participants):

WRITE YOUR LIFE with international author Ibtisam Barakat

A memoir writing workshop with renowned poet and memoir writer Ibtisam Barakat.

During this weekend at Bunker Hill, you will slow down to look at your life, find the moments that can become brilliant expressions of poetry or storytelling and can connect you with yourself and the world at once. Come grow your voice, your self-understanding and your art of writing. At this workshop you will laugh and possibly cry as you meet hidden parts of yourself, and have fun saying hello, connecting with your child self, adolescent self, grownup self, writer self and artist self. Author website:

SKETCHBOOK JOURNALING (no artistic talent required) with artist Mary Gainey

Sketchbook Journals, The Bunker Hill Corps of Discovery

We are going to embark on a Corps of Discovery at Bunker Hill on the Jacks Fork River. Just as Thomas Jefferson clearly directed Lewis and Clark to document “your observations with great pains and accuracy,” we shall do likewise with our sketchbook journals. Eight men on the Lewis and Clark expedition recorded everything from wildlife, landscapes, native people, and trees, to camp life and map making. The journals were issued to the men, along with the finest pen nibs and stoneware inkbottles from France. Keep in mind, there was not one single “artist” employed for the expedition, so all the drawings and writings were entirely untrained documentation, and that includes invented spellings! “I employ myself, drawing,” wrote William Clark, and we shall do the same. The modern educator is familiar with the connection of right and left brain. The concept of sketching and journaling is very useful in educational settings where direct visual contact and descriptive writing can develop deeper understandings. In drawing and writing, we shall connect, unabashedly, unapologetically, and faithfully, committed to giving this adventure the focus that Jefferson directed. We shall set out to explore, to draw, and to write about the common and extraordinary things we see at Bunker Hill. We can write poetry, essays, descriptions, prayers, or reflective musings. None of us will be graded on how we draw or write!

Posted on Leave a comment

Writer’s Journey Part One by Chris Spurgeon

Today’s post in the Writer’s Journey series is contributed by Chris Spurgeon, a new addition to CCMWG. I hope you enjoy his post!


by Christopher Spurgeon

I have a tendency to resist and avoid thinking in an organized manner, and a long-standing distrust of arguments that I ought to be organized to oblige other people. So remembering my own past isn’t my habit, especially now in retirement. But for the sake of people who really feel much as I do I can, and happily.

I’ve been writing poetry for some twelve years now, and love doing it. It is as personal as dressing and combing one’s hair and brushing one’s teeth before starting the day. Poetry writing for me is an attempt to form into words something that, if it were prose, one could not publish or post online. No one would get it. Or if they did understand they wouldn’t respond to something so familiar. I could use the word intimate here but frankly do not like it. “Intimate” reeks too much of romance novels, or polite language in mixed company. Poetry talks about what goes on in one’s head – thoughts and feelings. If there is passion it is the passion of a sculptor for his hammer and chisel. I don’t want to be a disappointment, but the intimacy of poetry is mostly not about lust.

Writing is an art. There are many things the arts have in common. One of the most important is this attitude – if I perform the lead role in a three or five act play and have the experience to carry the play on my back, there is still one thing I need. Belief. There can be no doubt in my mind, not for fifteen minutes at any point, that I can perform the play. I MUST UNDERSTAND that I can do the job, that I have the capacity, have the background, training and experience. I must not entertain any doubts about that. If I doubt, I can’t perform the role.

How do I know that? Because I spent 38 years performing theatrical plays, in the United States, Canada, Western Europe and spots along the Mediterranean. In two languages.

It is the same with drawing or painting two-dimensional designs and compositions. There can’t be any doubt in the artist’s mind he can “render” – execute – his art piece. Many people are self-deprecating. They say “Oh, I can’t do that. I can barely draw a stick figure.” And in so doing, because they say that and think it, they can’t draw.

So I became a member of Facebook about ten years ago, and discovered to my surprise that few of my friends had anything lengthy or well-developed to say. I came to the conclusion this was because most people go to Facebook in their hours off work, but they are busy with their families of course, and or their local friends, and begrudge themselves the time to read something three pages long on a topic they don’t have a lot of interest in. So I learned, along with everyone else, to make my texting and posts shorter, more bite sized. But it wasn’t satisfying. I seldom said the things on my mind or heart.

I felt that people would respond best in a different format. That form was poetry. And it works. How does one write poetry?

First one says sure, it will be easy. Then one insists on making it easy for oneself. Want to start with a challenging form such as the sonnet? No problem. First, it’s iambic pentameter. The words go duh-DAH five times. In English that’s easy:

O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?
The sin of our ingratitude even now
Upon the shores of Gitchee Goomie
With upturned Faces on as real a Face
This stupid post is just a thousand words

See? It’s a cinch. Then decide if you want to make it the Shakespeare form, the Elizabeth Barrett Browning form, or what you will. THEN you just write any fool thing but make sure you adhere rigidly to the form. It might end up dumb, but you’ve written a sonnet. That’s a start. You don’t know anyone else who has written a blasted sonnet. But you have.

So I did. Several. And my friends said they weren’t bad at all. I was informed by having been dipped in literature for decades. Then I tried imitating Ogden Nash. I studied two of his collections to get an idea of exactly what he wrote about, why, and how. Then I winged it without looking, and came up with three poems like his, but mine.

Then I looked at Norman Lear, Lewis Carroll, Shakespeare, Dickenson. Wordsworth, Keats, Byron, Blake. They all had their own reasons to write.

My reason was to write honestly to my friends online in such a way, they might not answer, but might understand me, and be comfortable with how I put it. It is for love. I don’t discuss something like I know it all, or have an inside advantage. I try to write a poem to act or react honestly to someone or something, when a direct remark in a comment or post might be too harsh, too intimate, too careless or too anything.

I flex my foot on the thrumming pedal
Letting myself through the town
Like a mountaineer lets his thread down the Alp
This room of darkling firelight waits for me
I rub my cap and cough cold air eagerly
Hunched against the whirling skies
My mind ahead turning off the motor in the
Crouched invisible shed.

How as a poet do you find your own form? You write poems a long enough time. You write them because you have a muse that wakes you up with an idea in the early morning hours or watching TV in the afternoon. You roll out of bed, switch the TV off, stop what you’re doing, go to the word processor. Get it down before forgotten. If it’s not love to begin with, it becomes love later.


Thank you, Chris, for letting us see into your influences and creative process, and for being brave enough to post first! If you have an idea for a blog post, please send it my way at or with Blog Post in the subject line. And don’t forget to leave your comments for Chris down in the comments section below. I am sure he would love to hear from you.

Posted on Leave a comment

In Case You Missed April’s Meeting

Hi CCMWGers! In case you missed April’s meeting, here are some notes for you so you can stay on top of the happenings of the guild.

If you caught the Spring quarterly newsletter, you may have caught onto the fact that we are naming a new column in the newsletter for guild successes. So far I have only gotten one suggestion, but would like to get more input. I know we are a creative body of writers and can come up with something snappy. Feel free to comment on this post with your suggestion. I would love to hear from you.

I also have been revamping the website. I would like the guild members to have more input into the blog contents. If you have a 1000-word post dying to get out, please send it my way at with the words “Blog Post” in the subject line. Newsletter material can be sent to the same address with “Newsletter” in the subject line. Posts should have appropriate content (no religion, politics, sexual content, etc) and should be about writing. This can include writing advice, where you are in your writing journey, things you have learned in life that apply to your writing, etc. If you want to send a proposal, feel free to do that as well.

The Missouri Writers’ Guild’s annual conference is coming up May 17-19. You may find more information about it here. We are once again participating in Basket Wars at the conference. Deb is trying to theme the basket this year for the win. The theme is The Write Stuff and should include items that encourage writing. Items to consider donating are writing craft books, nice notebooks and pens, wine, chocolate, etc. Please bring your items to the meeting on May 5th to be included in the basket.

Art in the Park is coming up June 1-2. Signups for working our table will be going out in email shortly. Please try to find a time to sit at the table. It is a great way to connect with our community and bring new members into the guild. Plus, it is fun to interact with young writers, and a LOT of them approach our table during that weekend. This year we will have a handout in either paper or bookmark form to make it easier to provide information.

The next quarterly meeting will be at the Skylark Bookshop in June or July and will be an all-genre reading. Stay tuned for further information and sign-ups to read. Thank you, Sharon for setting these up for us!

Last, if you have been looking for a writing software to try, one of our members mentioned that Write Way Pro is free to download and register. I haven’t looked at it yet, but I am just putting it out there as a suggestion.

Have a great month, folks! May your words be plenty!