Wednesday, June 26, 2013

CWC 2013 in Review

This year I attended the Colgate Writers' Conference located at Colgate University in Hamilton, NY.  If you want the short version, here it is:  AWESOME!  If you want the long version, read on.

Sunday, June 16:
I made the 4.5 hour drive from middle of nowhere Massachusetts to middle of nowhere New York.  Colgate's campus is lovely, and my only issue upon arriving was not being able to determine what was a road and what was a sidewalk.  Upon asking, I was told that if it looks like I can fit a car down it, then drive down it.  What I learned:  my car fits down every "sidewalk," even the one that leads to a set of stairs.  Do NOT drive down the stairs.

My two-year-old helped me pack my suitcase.  It wasn't until I was unpacking when I discovered she thought I needed a pair of her socks to take with me.

The welcome reception terrified me, and I spent most of the time 1.) wishing what I wore matched the wall paper better, and 2.) grateful for the lovely Maria--a Sicilian non-fiction writer who made me feel right at home.  I then dined with three lawyers/writers.  Readings by the awesome Jennifer Haigh and Bruce Smith = awesome.

I met my group-mates--those individuals with whom I would spend the next week working out the kinks in our novels--and the intense Paul Cody.

Monday, June 17:
It was exactly 5:00 am (or thereabouts) when I discovered there was no coffee station.  I mean, seriously?  Don't writers mainline coffee?  Why the heck wasn't there coffee until 7:30?  This girl wrote about it in her evaluation.

I then spent the rest of the day in workshops and other talks.  Readings by Dana Spiotta and J. Robert Lennon = love.

Tuesday, June 18: 
There still wasn't coffee until 7:30.  Why, oh, why must they torture us so??

Today, I was under fire.  My group-mates gave me feedback on LitD, which I then ate with a hot dog (because I relished it!).  Paul gave me some fab advice about querying and agents.  Let me tell you, I feel a million times better about LitD!  Later that afternoon, I read part of LitD to the attendants.  Afterwards, my heart and head swelled just a little.

Readings by Brian Hall and Jennifer Brice = Wow.  Jennifer's essay sang to me--seriously sang to me.  I bought CASTLE by J. Robert Lennon (and then spent the rest of the conference too chicken to ask him to sign it).

Wednesday, June 19:
More awesomeness of the sort I've already described.  Here's the beautiful early morning view.  The only thing this view was missing was the coffee...which I didn't get until 7:30.  *sigh*

Readings by Greg Ames and Joni Tevis = Beautiful.  I toted John's book around all day.  I had about twenty opportunities to ask him to sign it.  Did I do it?  No.  What I did do was see the Manhattan String Quartet in concert.  Hey, if it's not baroque, fix it!

Thursday, June 20:
More awesomeness.  Got to listen to Lorelei Sharkey's presentation about self-publishing.  If you're into kink, buy her book!  It's illustrated.  Readings by Mark Doty and Marjorie Celona = Sorry guys.  I was too tired to pay attention.  I promise I heard lots of beautiful words, though.  My mind was too exhausted to register them.  My mind was too exhausted to ask John to sign my copy of his book, too.

Friday, June 21:
I woke to write a poem--a very bad poem.  But the mattress muse inspired me.  More awesomeness.  Lunch with Leslie Daniels on the grass = Score!  She answered so many of my questions that she was probably sick of me by the end of the meal.  Readings by Leslie = Fun, and Paul = Moving, so so very moving.  Do you know what else was moving?  Me.  As in, I moved in the other direction, instead of asking John to sign the damned book.

Saturday, June 22:
Yes, there was still a craft talk and a workshop.  And!  And!  I finally finally finally got up the nerve to ask John to sign his book.  Confetti! (Virtual, not literal confetti though.  That stuff's a mess to clean up.)

Then, there was lunch with Kathi and Alan.  The restaurant must have known writers were going to be around.  They felt the need to put a disclaimer on their menu.

Commence the 4.5 hour drive back to Massachusetts (where there was a detour that took me 10 minutes out of my way).  I was greeted home by a deer but otherwise empty house.

Huge thanks to all my writing peeps out there who made this week memorable.  I'll list you by name and in no particular order, but know this list isn't complete.  If I left you off the list, it's not because I don't love you.   Thanks to:  Dave, Alan, Dave, Kathi, Paul, Gopal, David, Paco, David, Maria, Jan, Martha, Dave, and Kevin.  (And yes 36% of those people are Davids, and yes, they are all different people.)

Here are my group-mates.  Unfortunately, we're missing a Dave in this photo.

So, would I go again?  Heck yeah!

Oh!  I almost forgot!  My poem.  Note: I am *not* a poet.

An Ode to the Mattress

Your daughter is beautiful
and yet you do not want
anymore kids, you said.
Tossing from side and then
to side when I do not sleep
I say, No.  Colgate's mattress
has reminded me of pregnancy.
This mattress ain't for sleeping.

Grandma was a scary lady,
big and plush and Polish.
Lying on my belly reminds
me of this
There is no give for curves here.
Grandma's got Monster Boobies,
do I?
This mattress ain't for sleeping.

The writers creep back to their dormitories
from their imbibements of colorful and noncolorful drinks
Their voices, hollow, echoing, unreal
drift through my open window.
When I can make out their words, I hear
Bondage and Sadomasochism. 
This mattress certainly ain't for sleeping.

But tomorrow
Tomorrow I will plunge into the musicians' mosh pit
and then.