Back home in the white and grey world and last week already seems like a dream.

That blue, blue sky and the orange, yellow, green, pink buildings lining the cobblestone streets.

The lime trees and the boat-tailed grackles with their shimmering navy blue tails and the tiny flitting hummingbirds and the fuchsia bougainvillaea blooming over stone and brick walls.

It was all a huge delicious feast of sunshine and flowers and fluttering birds and papaya and margaritas and fat avocados and mariachi bands and tequila and and, of course, words. Sentences. Stories.


Joyce Carol Oates talking about mysterious moments of artistic inspiration, translator Mark Fried discussing the late Eduardo Galleano’s profound work, Lisa See sharing the often hilarious story of her obsessive quest to uncover Chinese women’s secret stories.

(By the way, you can download these lectures for a fee at the San Miguel Conference website).

Prying ourselves away proved difficult.

Not just because it was hard to leave our peaceful little casita, and the gorgeous city, and the energy of the festival and conference, but because of circumstances.

Our shuttle came for us at 3 a.m. and a long delay in Chicago got us to Winnipeg at nearly two in the morning, meaning we were up and travelling north for 24 hours. Add to this the fact that I’d contracted a horrific cold a day or so earlier and, well, I was pretty miserable.

Yesterday, I spent most of the day in bed, accompanied by the gorgeous writing and intricate characters and complex structure of A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. Today, I feel like I’m on the mend – or at least a little bit, at the beginning of wholeness, those first few careful stitches.

Dancers at the Writers' Festival fiesta

Dancers at the Writers’ Festival fiesta

My time in San Miguel, especially in the the stellar workshop I attended with Donna Morrissey on Saturday morning, opened my eyes to some of the weaknesses in my new book, which is good, if hard, so this morning I allowed my thinking about it to nudge me back into the work.

Because it’s necessary to be able to move between places, for the work to grow whether you’re in the sunshine or the shade. So I’ll do a little bit, and when my lungs start heaving themselves up my throat again, I’ll grab the fat hardback novel I’m loving and crawl back into my bed.