Whew. Now that I’ve somewhat recovered from the Incident, I can attempt to come up with a semi-coherent and possibly flowing description of Fishtrap so far.
Well, maybe not quite that many wows. Still, I have met a couple of writers whose work I squee over, been listening to some excellent writing by both faculty and participants, and will not only leave this workshop with some good nubbins to develop into stories and essays but have gained quite a few insights into how I plan to develop Netwalking Space, the (probably) final book of the Netwalk Sequence.
So. Some details. Fishtrap happens at the Methodist Camp at Wallowa Lake. Most of the activities take place either in the camp’s lovely A-frame lodge or in instructor cabins. It starts on Sunday afternoon for most participants (Saturday if you are part of the isolated Outpost workshop that’s happening out on Zumwalt Prairie; Thursday if you’re doing the short version, and then there’s a year-long workshop). The program starts on Sunday evening with instructor/class meetups and discussions, then introductory readings. Classes meet every morning from 9-12 and writing happens as part of those classes. Afternoons feature either a presentation or a panel, then open mic readings. Then in the evenings faculty present readings from their works. The faculty are an eclectic mix of poets, essayists, fiction writers, and a book artist.
Based on what I’ve heard in my workshop and in the open mic, the skill level of most participants starts at the intermediate level and runs all the way up to potential instructor material themselves. The ability level of my workshop on the uncanny with Marjorie Sandor is pretty much uniformly high with regard to the use of sensory detail, sentence formation, and idea development. Not all of us write fiction; there are essayists and poets in the group as well. For the first two days, our process has included an in-class writing period and an out-of-class overnight writing assignment. We write, and then we discuss each piece. I’m impressed with how Marjorie handles this group–at thirteen participants, it’s the largest workshop of the whole week-long session. She guides and directs the critiques focused on specific and particular aspects of how the uncanny manifests in our responses to the prompts, with an eye toward getting us to think and process just how to shape those apparitions in our work.
Robert Michael Pyle is giving the keynote speech on Thursday night this year, and I’m looking forward to it. I first fell in love with his work when I read Wintergreen, and I hoped to have the chance to talk to him. Well, not only did I get to talk to him, but he admired the cover of Beyond Honor (he had talked in his reading about how fortunate he was to have pretty covers, so I had to brag on my pretty covers. He did admire Pledges of Honor and Alien Savvy as well). Then, as we discussed my work, he gave me a look and commented on how prolific I was. Definitely a wow moment.
Then, tonight, Erika L. Sánchez read some of her poetry. But I didn’t realize until she was introduced that she was also one of the writers I follow in the Guardian. So after the reading tonight, I had to do a little fangirl squee and tell her how much I loved her work. An unexpected coolness.
But overall, the atmosphere is less likely to impose con glaze quite so quickly (though I think after tomorrow I will be dragging a little), and there’s a lot less intensity with regard to marketing. I’ve enjoyed meeting different types of writers and talking about our different works, and the focus on the writing itself is something I really needed.
There’s more to write about, including some odd encounters on the drive back home tonight. However, I think I will save that for another post…it’s getting late and tomorrow will be here soon enough.