A few months ago I was trying to decide if Clarion 2014 would be an option. I determined at the time that it may be too difficult to swing, both money and time-wise — I’ve got a wife, two young children, three cats, and four chickens. (Yes, I know, these are the same excuses that everyone makes.) But I thought that the Rainforest Writers Village would probably be doable for 2014. I e-mailed Patrick and asked him to put me on the waiting list.
Shortly after I received an e-mail letting me know that there was a spot available for the 2013 retreat which was about a month away. I hemmed and hawed and slept on it, but decided it was too short of notice. Just as I was about to e-mail Patrick and tell him “thanks but no thanks” my wife told me to go and that we would consider it a late 30th birthday present. So I e-mailed Patrick back with the good news.
The big day arrived and I flew out to Seattle. Elizabeth Stephan was kind enough to pick me up from the airport with her entourage and we headed into the rain forest. There wasn’t much rain during our trip in, which was a bit disappointing, but the rain forest definitely made up for it later.
The location was gorgeous — better than I hoped it would be — Lake Quinault was stunning. The rain was a nice reprieve from my usual sunny locale. It was wonderful to be able to sit inside, warm and cozy, while looking at the stunning view. Very inspiring. The Rain Forest Resort Village took grand care of us. Everything was setup so that we had five days of nothing but writing, learning, and socializing. Huge kudos to the staff and volunteers for making it perfect.
That also brings me to the food. The food at the Salmon House was great but it was the grilled cheese and three soup lunch (put on by Art and Julie) and taco dinner (by Elizabeth) that knocked it out of the park. Huge, huge, huge thanks to them all for making those meals so tasty.
I met so many amazing writers and made some wonderful new friends. Name dropping time, in no particular order: Cory Skerry, Janna Silverstein, Elizabeth Stephan, Stephen Merlino, Julie Nordeen, Julie McGalliard, Allan Rousselle, J.A. Pitts, H.E. Roulo (I can’t believe it took until the last day for our paths to cross), Ted Kosmatka, James Van Pelt, David Devine, Patrick Swenson, Art Boulton, Jennifer Brozek, Brenda Cooper, Barb Galler-Smith, Susan Forest… The list goes on and on. I’m sure I’m missing a ton of people and for that, I apologize.
Twice a day there were talks that were all wonderfully thought provoking (I only missed one of them). My favorite was James Van Pelt’s talk called “One Time is an Accident; Twice is a Plot”. It gave me so much to think about, especially for the short stories I’m working on now.
Stat-wise I wrote around 12,000 words, most of that in my novel. I came close to finishing a short story that I’ve been writing on and off for a year and started a new short story. I spoke at length about my novel with a few of the writers there and was able to work through some plot issues. (I’m in the middle of the second act and trying to avoid it dragging. I think I’ve got it solved.)
I had the chance to read a great short story from Janna and provide her with feedback that I hope was helpful. I also read a short story by Stephen Merlino and will be writing up a critique for him soon. (I’m glad I attended Brenda Cooper’s talk about critiquing.) I love reading other writer’s stories and was delighted to have the opportunity to do so.
On Thursday night (I think it was Thursday, it all kind of blurred together) I attended a reading. Instead of reading anything I had written that day, I opted to read something that was a little more polished. A short story that proceeds the events of my novel starring the lovely antagonist. I was super nervous as I had never done a public reading before, but I went through with it. I was familiar enough with the character’s voice — it’s first person present — so I think I pulled it off, even though the antagonist is a teenage girl.
One word of advice that everyone gave me was that I needed to go to conventions and also attempt to get on panels and talks. I hadn’t even thought about this, but it’s obviously a really good idea. As with all business, networking plays a large part. It still comes down to writing a great story, but it can’t hurt to know the right people to give it to. So that’s something I need to think about. World Fantasy 2014 in DC sounds like a good idea.
I picked up a bunch of books (thanks to Art Boulton for running the book table) from authors in attendance: Black Blade Blues by J.A. Pitts, WWW:Wake by Robert J. Sawyer, The Games by Ted Kosmatka, Blue Suede Darlin’ by Julie Nordeen, an anthology called Swordplay (with stories by Janna Silverstein, J.A. Pitts, and Allan Rousselle), and a collection, Immunity to Strange Tales, by Susan Forest.
I’m missing a million more wonderful details. The stars, the party, the stories, the walks, the birthdays, etc. It would take 2,000 words to write it all and it would probably just get sappier. So here’s the sappy part. For so long I’ve never really felt like a writer, even with six sales under my belt. Thanks to all the great people at the retreat, this weekend I felt like a writer. *sniff*
The one bad thing about the whole trip was that I missed my wife and daughters terribly. My youngest daughter looked like she had grown about a foot in those few days and my oldest was sporting a new haircut that made her look two years older. I can’t thank my wife enough for being so supportive. She’s awesome.
Barring any unforeseen circumstances, I’ll be there again next year.