Sunday, October 10, 2010

What I Did At Camp

[This post was originally started in the Seattle Airport. It is presented to you in real time. And 3D. Unrated.]

I am sitting in an airport and going on my nine thousandth set of words for the day. Yeah. That's what Viable Paradise has done to me. And I am writing this now, because tomorrow I intend to hold a lotta babies.

What is there to say about Viable Paradise 14 except this?

Also, Martha's Vineyard is beautiful. My classmates, whom I will list later, were amazing, except for Jake Kerr, who is now my nemesis. I can feel his evil eye upon me, like a wheel of fire. I can't count the number of amazing experiences even without writing involved, like learning to fence from Michelle, swimming in the middle of the night with a host of students including Sän, who went in fully clothed several times. Luminescent jellyfish! On Saturday I even got to ride a bike (thanks, Bill and Mary) all around the island. (I also got to find out that I had never changed my flight from the original Saturday I booked it for. Blehhh.)

[Picks it up a week later.]

Wow, time passes when there are babies crying. I've been catching up on work and furiously preparing to write for NaNoWriMo, a novel I am tentatively calling "The Phantom Menace." No, seriously. I'll explain it later.

As for actually writing at VP: Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden talked a lot about publishing, as one might expect. They were very excited about ebooks, Barnes & Noble's health and other related stuff, which was really cool, because we could hear them over the Internet screams of "Publishing is deaaaad!" Turns out it's not dead and Tor is even more not-dead than others. We got to go deeper into a conversation I've had with some authors and editors before, re how ebooks can bring back an author's out-of-print backlist, trade paperbacks and hardcovers, the shrinking paperback shelves in drugstores and grocery stores and what it means to the books publishers buy, and and and...

She kept the lowest profile, but Laura Mixon turned out to be VP's secret weapon for me. She lectured on the care and feeding of your Other, aka the Beast. We learned how to treat your subconscious nicely so that it will deliver, theme, resonance and humor, while your conscious mind is able to work on character and plot. My one-on-one with Laura was also really helpful, as she capped off the week by giving me some really good, simple and sound advice on the story, and then listened to me bitch about writing with screaming children.

On top of workshopping our submissions, we wrote stories until about 2 in the morning. I actually wrote "The End" and fell asleep right there with the laptop on, while next to me, Sän went on writing until he faced the same crux.

I thought my story was terrible. People liked it. Even Jake liked it, though he was only saying that to lure me into false calm so he could pierce my aorta with his vampiric tentacular appendages.

And a bunch of other stuff. Mac and the staff made amazing food and were house-elves to put Dobby to shame. Okay, Dobby was a crappy house-elf, but they put the other hard-working house-elves in Harry Potter to shame. Uncle Jim and Doyle were amazing mentors and teachers and high-energy the whole time. Steve Gould was a lot of fun and he and Scalzi discoursed on the joys of working with Hollywood. Bear and I sang a lot of songs, drank a lot (okay, well, she drank a lot while I had water and Coke Zero) and she looked over a portion of my long-suffering historical novel that I am intimidated to write because I've never been to the Middle East.

I also periodically said stupid things, which tend to fly out of my mouth if I keep it open enough, but at the end of the week the people liked me.

Over the last few years I've been shortlisted for Clarion and a finalist for Writers of the Future twice. So as you might imagine, I had workshop lust. I was like one of those BYU students who, still a virgin at 29 after two failed engagements, finally makes it to the wedding night afraid that it won't be all it was cracked up to be.

VP, you did me good.


  1. I am in my lair, working feverishly on a Spencimus bomb. It's highly specialized. It is entirely harmless unless your name is Spencer, in which case it causes an elevated fondness for adverbs and passive voice.


  2. OK, seriously, that thing about the Mormon kid made me want to pee...

    And it's fine that you didn't mention me, your phantom roommate, the one who only came in to eat. No, it's fine. I'm not.. *sniffle*... No. I'm fine. Seriously.

  3. I wrote about Peter, but the FBI deleted it all and then traced all my calls to 1-800-SURSI.

    Jake, as I am wondering and sitting wonderingly, thinking if the deed has been done by Jake ignomiously, I copiously am thinking that I am vividly hating you increasingly by and by.

  4. I wish I could have come out to see you. Sadface. Sadcryface. Oh, money. People always like you, even though I'm funnier. And better looking. And more awesome in every way. I've decided it's because you're a fire sign. And because you pay them.

  5. I am a fire sign, and I pay them, but they still like me for myself.

    Don't they?