June 9th, 2008


6/9/08: Taos Toolbox, day 1: Clarion Deluxe, now with 50% less oxygen

Long day yesterday. Up at 5am, cab to the airport, uneventful flights to Albuquerque via SFO, picked up rental car, drove 130 miles to Taos Ski Valley. Some confusion over the various Taoses (Taos, Taos Pueblo, Taos Ski Valley, Taos Ski Valley Village) but we only got lost once.

Looks like a good bunch of people. As this is a "graduate-level" workshop, almost everyone here has attended Clarion or Odyssey or Orson Scott Card's Literary Boot Camp or some such. It's also an older crowd than my Clarion and Writers of the Future classes (for once I am not the Old Guy).

The accomodations are fabulous. I have a huge loft bedroom with a spectacular view, sharing a 3-bedroom 3-bath suite with Jerry Weinberg and Allen Moore (no, not that Alan Moore). The spiral stair is very keen but getting my humungous bag up to the loft was a trial, especially as I was suffering mightily from the altitude, with a wicked headache and dizziness verging on nausea.

I fell over hard at about 10pm, and after a good night's sleep the symptoms are greatly reduced. I will strive to keep hydrated, avoid alcohol and caffeine for the first few days, and not overexert myself. First critiques at 10am today. Whee!


6/9/08: Taos Toolbox, day 2: Begin as you would continue

The first full day of classes began with a nice breakfast, though the butter wouldn't melt on my English muffin right out of the toaster. I assume this is an effect of the altitude. Most meals are provided; I'm not sure what the options will be for Friday and Saturday's dinners, which aren't.

We convened in the lobby at 10am for opening remarks by Walter Jon Williams and Kelly Link and introductions all around, then jumped right in with critiques of two novel excerpts (everyone had to submit something for week 1 before the workshop started). Both works were of high general quality but interestingly flawed. The quality of the critiques was also quite high, with almost every one adding something interesting to the conversation. After lunch (I had cold leftover pizza from yesterday's dinner, a rare indulgence) Walter gave us a brief lecture about Two Surefire Ways to Keep a Reader Reading.

In the afternoon Walter led a hike; Deborah Jacobs, Allen Moore, and I came along. (Many of the other students ran off to Taos to purchase supplies, but I think I have everything I need.) I was a bit nervous about tackling the exertion, after the way the altitude kicked my ass yesterday, but Walter promised a fairly easy hike and, indeed, I had no difficulty. It was almost entirely uphill, but not too steep, with crisp mountain air and gorgeous views.

We also met a very cute dachshund-chihuahua mix on the trail. We have been warned about the dangers of the local wildlife (Giardia! Hantavirus! Bubonic plague! Bears!) but this one seemed harmless enough.

I'm drinking Gatorade, taking lots of naps, and generally taking it easy. Lots of good, juicy conversations over meals, on the hike, and in the hall between sessions. So far so good.

Also: kateyule is blogging from Mexico! Go say hola.