Now that I’m back home and fully immersed again in the
insane stress busy-ness of regular life, I want to recap my Writers Weekend experience before I forget. It was quite a packed, long weekend so I’ll probably split this into more than one entry.
I left home early enough that I expected to get to Moclips at least an hour before 4pm check-in but ended up being mis-directed at one turn by Google Maps so I arrived right on time. The drive took me through very familiar I5-North-Between-Portland-and-Seattle territory until just past Centralia, then I explored little highways like 88 and 12, through towns like Montesano and Aberdeen.
I had never met anybody in this group before, but I had sought out a number of people’s blogs (many of the writers in attendance posted contact information in advance, as well as simple bios) so I figured I’d recognize a few. When I checked-in, though, I didn’t recognize anybody, and went off to my cabin — a real cabin, a tiny old box with rough timber beams in the ceiling, built in the 50s. This Ocean Crest Resort is a family-run place out at the end of Hwy 101, before it dead-ends on the Olympic Peninsula. The resort includes a number of buildings constructed at different times, so there are private homes converted into separate rooms, conventional apartment-style hotel rooms, larger cabins split into 3 or 4 rooms, or in my case, a single, stand-alone tiny box off at the edge of things.
The first event on the schedule was a dinner at 6pm in cabin 601, which was one of two prime activity centers for the group all weekend. Feeling a bit like the new kid, moving to a new school mid-year after everyone else already knew each other, I went on over there, made myself a name tag and had dinner. Before and after dinner there was social time. As I suspected, everybody else seemed to be familiar with at least a few other people in the room, and some like Jay Lake and David D. Levine seemed to know most of the others. Those who didn’t know everybody at least seemed drift into small groups of three or four. I don’t have much to report from this first evening. I spoke only briefly with a few people, but that was OK. I sat back, put names with faces, and oriented myself, and this was the last time I had that awkward feeling all weekend.
After things had broken up at 10pm or so, I went back to my cabin but wasn’t tired yet, so decided to seek out a beer. The resort’s lounge was upstairs from the restaurant, and next door to the conference room we’d be using for critiques and lectures all weekend. To my surprise, the lounge was not a real bar at all, but just a room with wood tables and chairs in it, where you can sit and drink wine or beer someone brings you from down in the restaurant. That was kind of weird, and I had sort of wanted to belly up to a bar and have somebody draw me a draft, you know?
Also in the lounge happened to be Peter, one of the writers I had just met (sorry, can’t link to him here because he’s proudly blog-less), along with his wife Rose, sampling from the resort’s very impressive wine list. The service was perfectly fine, and though the beer came in a bottle it was enjoyable. It one of the Deschutes brewery beers, and Peter and Rose said they were from Bend, so we talked about that for a while. Then it turned out Peter and I both knew, remembered and enjoyed each other’s stories, so we were able to talk about those at some length, and pre-critique them to some degree. Our stories were both similar in the sense of pertaining to early days of space travel, humanity trying to edge outward in the solar system (rather than the more conventional SF “way out there in the galaxy” kind of space travel), and we both had more positives to say about the other’s story, than negatives. We talked not only about our stories up for critique that weekend, but also a few other stories we had each written in the same “world.” I knew my story would confuse and/or annoy at least some people, so it was nice to get at least one positive response up front.
I felt much better after a couple of beers and an hour or so talking to Peter and Rose. Gosh, I hope I’m remembering her name correctly, because she only had that name tag the first night, but I think that’s right. I thought it was charming, the way she was familiar with all her husband’s stories and seemed to have helped him critique them, the way my wife Lena helps me with my stories until she’s intimately familiar with all my settings, characters and titles.
You’d think the relatively uneventful first night would merit a much shorter entry, but that’s how we roll, we writers… spin a tiny little idea into a whole bunch of introspective, detail-obsessed self-indulgence! Tune in tomorrow (or later today) when we reveal the untold story of Friday at Writers Weekend!