Breakfast is at 7:30am
and goes until 9am.
Class begins at 9:30am.
You would (hopefully) be surprised at the number of us that arrived to eat breakfast at 7:30am. My talented self included. But hey, the food was delicious (I’m thinking on the whole we’re super lucky in regards to meals. They’ve been phenomenal.) and we were all super chatty. So it was okay. That said, I’m getting that extra half hour or so of sleep tonight…
My table buddy, Joy Johnson, was kind enough to share her MacBook Air charger with me (blonde moment for this trip) and showed me a special feature in Word I had never had cause to use before. Audio notes! It records the audio while you take notes in notebook view. It links the parts of audio with the lines of notes as well, it’s quite beautiful. The only drawback is the internal mic picks up your typing pretty well. So for frequent use an external mic could be a good investment.
For a good three hours Donald worked us through aspects of our characters and pushed pieces of scenes out of us. No one I’ve sat through a seminar or workshop with is ever like Don. They talk, you do an exercise, but it’s never like it is with Don. He asks you questions, pulls you into your writing deeper than you’ve pushed yourself naturally. What’s really great is he’ll slip in little bits of humor, he’ll say it’s okay if a process doesn’t work or apply to your story. He’s aware of what he’s asking you to pull out of yourself, how it can drain you in a way you’re not use to, and that cognizance is, to me, greatly appreciated. Because you walk out of that classroom and down to lunch in this hazy fog.
The real miracle is that in all he talks about, his anecdotes, the challenges he puts to you, he avoids negativity. No snarky comments about craft or other authors. The comments he makes are thoughtful observations. Even Stephen King’s writing has gotten better over time, things like that. He believes you can create on this higher level everyday, if you just reach for it. And better than hearing that, is believing that he means it, and then so do I.
Lunch & Dinner:
Meals tend to turn into exploratory discussions. About research, the industry, our specific works. A little of life will leak in- your job, your husband, kids, grandkids, but it always loops back to our babies- our stories.
The afternoon hours were for doing “homework” and for one-on-one meetings. This is when a classmate ran me out to the Apple store to buy a new charger and I worked on my catharsis scene at the end of my novel.
Tonight was critique groups, where we worked through my and Ruth’s scenes. Mine was meeting my hero the first time. Having to sit through people reading your pages in front of you is one of the most nerve-wracking experiences. It was great in the end, but the suspense as pages shuffle and you just want to crawl under the coffee table…ahhhh! There are some really good tweaks and thoughts I came away with. Ruth’s pages were great, as she insisted that they were a first draft so no copy editing. And then somehow it was 10pm and we were all ready for bed.
My biggest takeaway is thanks for the audio notes. Ignoring the cadence of my fingers typing away while he speaks, I’m grateful to be able to go back to these lectures again and again now and have Don ask me these questions and draw from the deeper well of experiences inside of me.