(noun) – Salon, from the French word salon (a living room or parlor), means a conversational gathering. Usually this is a select group of intellectuals, artists and politicians who meet in the private residence of a socially influential (and often wealthy) person.
I am interested in hearing if any of my friends and readers would be interested in starting a yearly salon. I am not wealthy, or socially influential, and the salon probably wouldn’t take place in my small fifties bungalow, but I have a few ideas of how to make it work.
Are we too disconnected as a society, as connected as we are digitally? I feel blessed to “know” so many people via my writing, and I adore reading everyone’s deeply beautiful work, and viewing the stunning art that they share online. I am not too terribly involved in my city’s local art and literature scene; usually because I am too busy with family, work, and home life. But sometimes, while I might attend a gallery showing or listen to a poet read, I come and go quietly. I am introverted. I have no desire to read my words out loud in a crowded public square; I’d rather they be read (and in book form, really). I do enjoy to hear a poet or storyteller speak, though. I saw Nikki Giovanni read this weekend and she was electric.
But. I read this big, juicy article in The Atlantic on Friday (the print version, even) about how Facebook is making us lonely. Here is the article (but really, I urge you to go buy a copy. Your eyes and your brain will thank you for reading something in print as opposed to something on a screen), and I found it to be so beautifully on-point as to how I’ve been feeling about the whole social networking business lately. Because that’s what it is, of course: a business. And we are the product. But I’m not against the whole thing; I have an account that I use for both social planning, communicating, and for networking with other writers (and artists) for both my personal writing and for the work Katie and I do for Far Away. In fact, my relationship with Katie is quite the textbook case in what is good and right about blogging and social networking. We’ve created three literary and art journals together, we’ve formed a gorgeous, honest friendship, and we’ve never met in person. I worry though that many of us have come to rely on facebook too much as a connection point. My in the flesh friends and I don’t communicate too much on facebook; we mainly use to it to say hey, let’s do something saturday okay what time okay meet you down there love you okay bye. It’s made that sort of planning easy as a breeze; all of us are mothers, with young children pulling on our shirtsleeves. We can plan without our interruptions illustrated, we can be concise without pause. For that, I am thankful for facebook.
But there are other friends, friends in town even, friends that I’ve never shaken hands with, we’ve never so much as sat down to coffee. Part of my letter-writing project (project, habit-change, life-change) is to scoop up what’s left of the way we used to connect. Already I’m feeling that old anticipation when the mailman comes; already I’m remembering the girl I used to be on long, sticky summer days, waiting for letters from boys I met at camp.
To make a long-winded diatribe just a bit longer before I slowly roll up onto a point, I would like to start a yearly small retreat for writers and artists in my circle. The cost will be nominal dependent on your travel expenses and any outings we might embark, plus any food and drink. This would not be a sort of corporate BlogHer or Blissdom that you would have to pay a fee for. Just pay for your travel, hotel, food, etc. I’d like it to be more like a salon, taking place over a weekend. We would use the time to get acquainted in real life, to talk about our work (or not), to share the same air for a bit, to get away from the routines of our daily lives for 48 hours.
This is all very off the cuff right now, but the little mustard seed has been in my head for a while. I’m thinking later this summer before I start my fall semester and my son starts second grade, and I’m thinking Asheville, N.C.
So tell me, if I were to be serious about this, and plan this, would you be interested in attending? Would Asheville be feasible for you to drive to, or fly to? Any other suggestions for where this could shake down? I would love nothing more to meet some of the people I have come to know so well via their beautiful voices.
Here’s to a life lived in the flesh.