I was going to catch up on more of the week at the workshop yesterday, but Michael Jackson died and took Farrah Fawcett and most of the internet with him. You live on earth. You know.
On Tuesday, Brad Beaulieu made us all eggs benedict with crabmeat for breakfast. This was somewhat suspicious, given that he was first on the critique schedule for the day, but I don't think any of us actually changed our comments because of the fantastic food. Most of us joked about it, though.
My first-fifty was the fourth and last to go under the scalpel that day. I got a ton of very helpful feedback. There were elements of the book that I was very happy to hear that people were responding to, I got confirmation that the bits I suspected were big problems really were big problems, and then I heard just oodles of impressions and misimpressions that helped me see where I was setting the wrong expectations, where I was being unclear or vague, or where I was just being silly. Leaving the critique session, my mind was already whirring, working on how best to integrate the feedback I received into the next draft. I was very happy with the way it all went.
From this remove, some of the days begin to blur together, but I think I'm pretty safe in saying that we returned to the balcony at the Zane Grey Ballroom to enjoy beer in the open air at an even greater altitude than that of street-level Flagstaff. That happened almost every night.
On Wednesday, we began convening in smaller groups to do dissections of full novel manuscriptsor, at least, of whatever portion of those manuscripts does exist. That's been going on in groups of three or four ever since. Each of us was assigned two full manuscripts to read, and in turn had two participants read our own full manuscript. My session took place this morning at Macy's Coffee. Eugene Myers and Rob Ziegler gave me an incredible thorough, helpful, and encouraging critique of my 70,000 words so far. When this book sells, I will owe them a huge debt of gratitude.
To hop back a couple of nights, now, on Wednesday evening we had a group viewing of Cloverfield. The movie was a lot more fun than I expected it to be. I found it well-made and effective for what it was, and of course it's always fun to see a city you know well get destroyed by a giant monster. It shared a lot of plot elements with one of my favorite little movies, the 1988 Anthony Edwards thriller Miracle Mile, but of course was a very different film. I jumped when the first explosion hit.
For Thursday evening, which would be last night, Sarah Kelly set up a Meet the Authors event at the Wine Loft in downtown Flagstaff. gregvaneekhout was featured prominently in an Arizona Daily Sun article promoting the event, in fact. Six of us sat on a panel of sorts and answered questions about our writing that we had come up with ourselves and given to Sarah. The audience actually outnumbered the panel, and they had good, solid questions for us when we had run out of our own questions. From there we shifted our base of operations to the Beaver Street Brewery.
This morning before my critique session, Greg and I rounded up what equipment and food supplies we had in our apartment and hosted a banana pancake breakfast for the women staying in this same building with us. (Most of the men are staying in another place across town.) This was greatly aided, and in fact suggested, by the two boxes of pancake mix we found in our cupboards, and by the bottle of imitation maple syrup in the fridge. I think the pancakes were a hit!
Around noon (actually a bit later because on my way back from my critique session at Macy's I realized I had left my leather coat on my chair and ran back only to find that the coat was gone and hadn't been turned in but thank goodness Rob Ziegler had grabbed it for me before he left), we convened as a group briefly so that Mike Kelly could photograph us for the obligatory Locus workshop pic. There is melancholy in the realization that things are winding down, but I'm starting to miss home a lot, and I can't wait to see my wife and dog tomorrow night. I'll be internalizing the stuff I learned this week for a while, and I'm really glad I was able to come.
P.S. Greg van Eekhout is best roommate! And his novel Norse Code rocks. Buy it.