Saturday, August 14, 2010

on returning

Outside my window, in the alley, my neighbor T is playing with his two kids. They're outlining themselves in chalk and filling in the outlines with colors and adding clothing, appendages, a chicken. I love being home right now listening to my friend play with his kids. They're great kids, hilarious and sweet. T is a very cool man, a plumber who wears the same exact thing every day, blue jeans and a white t-shirt. The familiarity is comforting to me today.

I've just come back from a week at Squaw Valley Writer's Conference. What a week. It was amazing and exhausting. My brain is so full of information, memories and ideas that all I could do when I got home earlier this afternoon was flop onto the sofa and watch crappy afternoon romantic comedies. I just walked down to the grocery store to pick up a few things, replenish my kitchen. Laundry is washing. I'm enjoying my solitude.

The conference was intense. There were hundreds of people, students, instructors, spouses, community members who came to the panels. I was in a workshop with 11 really intelligent writers who wrote in genres raging from historical fiction to sci-fi/horror. Every day we workshopped two pieces of work from the class with a different instructor. In the afternoons after lunch there were panels on topics ranging from obsession in writing to things I can't even remember. There were panels with agents, editors, writers. It was a cluster-fuck of ideas all week long.

I was housed in a fairly large house with six other writers. Most of us were under 35 and we partied. I had one old friend at the workshop, V, and we spent many hours shooting the shit. I don't think I've ever spent so much time talking about writing in my entire life. It was exhausting. This morning in the van ride to the airport a woman I hadn't met yet asked me about my manuscript and as I described it to her I was grateful that no one else is going to ask me about my manuscript. Not for a long time.

I was especially happy to meet Cindy and Luis Urrea, I follow their twitter. Luis is one of my favorite writers and we had a few great chats this week on writing, culture, the darker sides of being a writer and the part of Mexico our families are from. I also made friends with Chip Blake, editor of Orion Magazine. He led one of my workshops and it turned out we were both tweeting from the workshop. He was housed with Cindy and Luis. They were all super cool people. The staff at the conference was very approachable. I ended up meeting editors, agents and a few bat-shit-crazy people just by being friendly. Mark Childress was fantastic to meet and I can't wait for his next novel, I'm following the protagonist, Georgia Bottoms, on twitter.

I'm tired. My brain is fried and my body exhausted. Lots of walking up and down the mountain where I was housed. Last night a long walk in the pitch black. Coming home today I realized again how much time I spend alone. I doubt anyone at the conference would believe that. I was a social butterfly, flitting from person to person. During the week I heard my nickname go from Party Lizz to Tequila Lizz to Hot-tub Lizz. It was fun but as hard as I played, I worked. And I napped daily. The food wasn't anything to write home about but dinner was good socializing time. Much booze was consumed through the week.

I've come away with a lot of hope, silly as it sounds. I'm a writer. I have it. I'm not going to let it go. I was given great advice by Urrea, he told me not to rush it. As if there were any danger of that happening to me. I am slow in my writing, but deliberate. Fiction is fairly new to me but I think it suits me more than poetry, at least at this point in my life. I love poetry but have no desire to write any. It has served me well, the poetry comes out in my prose.

I'm happy to be home. B picked me up, took me for lunch and left me to my own devices. I look forward to sleeping in my own clean sheets on my soft, soft bed. I can't wait to sleep tomorrow and be laaaazy. New York Times, coffee, some italian sausages I bought to cook with eggs. Maybe a walk around the neighborhood. Squaw Valley was beautiful but this little orange and blue painted apartment makes me happy happy happy.

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