Sorry to leave y’all without a Breadcrumb yesterday. You’d think it would be easy to write at a writer’s conference but it hasn’t been. My excuse for yesterday’s failure is that we spent the day trekking through Carson National Forest. We led llamas along trails lined with raspberries, hemlock, mushrooms, columbine, birch, wild roses and a hundred plants I don’t have names for. We crossed back and forth across a stream – being careful not to let the llamas pull us into the icy water.
We got back to the Sage Brush Inn and Conference Center just in time for me to pick up my registration packet and get ready for the “introductory dinner”. That is where I realized this week’s workshop might not meet my lofty expectations. At dinner I met the other nine women in my workshop. The sole male participant had the good luck or the good sense to skip the dinner. Seven of the women were or had been middle school teachers. One was a guidance counselor. The ninth sold real estate between marriages. The instructor looked like she would rather be anywhere but Taos, New Mexico teaching memoir writing. She left before the end of the meal.
The evening was salvaged by Wally Lamb’s reading. He read, at length, from his new book – in its final edits – Wishing and Hoping, A Christmas Story. It was light and humorous – a total departure from his three previous novels.
Okay – that takes care of Day 2.
Today I got up at 5:00 am to read two more of the books the instructor had assigned. I’d finished her memoir on the flight but I still had Caroline Knapp’s Drinking: A Love Story and Stephen King’s book on writing to plow through. Knapp’s book made me want to drink and King’s book made me question whether I really wanted to write.
Again, Wally Lamb to the rescue. I chatted with him and his wife at breakfast and decided that writers really are nice people and that some of them can even write from the perspective of someone they haven’t been.
Then came the first day of the workshop. The missing male student showed up and instructor had regained her energy but not her warmth. For the first time I saw the Socratic method applied to writing. All that was missing was the hemlock I’d seen on yesterday’s hike.
Homework – a thousand words. Done. I know she’s going to rip them apart tomorrow. The only subjects that seem to appeal to her are anorexia and midwifery.