Holy cow, that was a great workshop. Flagstaff is a wonderful city, one I could see myself living in some day. But really, it was the people who brought the magic. I’ve never been surrounded by such a universally smart, funny, talented, kind, and generous group of fellow writers. (Except at Blue Heaven, of course, but that goes without saying.)
You know you’re with great writers when you’re learning something with every critique in the circle, even when the critiques aren’t about your book. The full-novel critiques were fueled entirely by the desire to help the author solve problems, add awesome, and stay focused and excited about finishing the book, the next draft, or whatever. I enjoyed all the sessions immensely, and found my own novel critique ridiculously valuable and energizing.
What else can I say? We laughed a lot. And drank a lot of beer and cider and wine and rum. We ate like kings and queens, and our coffeehouse (despite not serving drip coffee) offered a huge range of vegetarian and vegan food options. If I lived in Flagstaff, I’d be there every day.
We watched movies (Shaun of the Dead, Kung Fu Hustle, The Karate Kid), talked about the industry and our careers, shared martial arts stories and moves in the dark alley behind our house. Deb and I got lost on a late-night hike. I met an animal physiologist at our one planned event and made him answer questions about mermaids and centaurs. We watched, horrified, as the forest burned. We hiked through a canyon and drowned our toes in a fresh stream. We stared at the stars, both at the observatory, and with Google Star Map on our phones.
A magical week, both productive and rejuvenating. And the drive home — out of Flagstaff on the I-40 and through the desert near the Mojave — was so beautiful and inspiring that I would have stopped a dozen times just to soak it in… if I hadn’t been racing home to my boys (both human and feline) as fast as I could.