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Day 4: Kill Your Darlings.

The Parking Lot.
The parking lot. I think that may actually be Anne Lamott in the foreground.

I’m loving the mix of people here. There are teachers, there are MFA students, there are retirees, there are folks like me with day jobs that have nothing to do with their writing.

One great thing about the workshop: no name tags. (You can figure out who the writers are by the familiar way they hug each other.) That snootiness I experience with strangers at (ahem) anthropology conferences — people in the hallway drop their eyes to your name tag, realize you’re a nobody, and walk on — doesn’t seem to exist here.

And can I say that these were the nicest people? Of course, I may have been lucky this year, but this was surely the warmest bunch of (then-) strangers I’d ever met at a conference. And I suspect it had a lot to do with the very nature of the conference and its organizers (although of course these participants were special too): laid-back, supportive, excited, friendly. It’s difficult to be shy when people are so welcoming, and soon you find yourself easily going up to other strangers and introducing yourself. The eagerness is infectious.

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Day 3: The Literary Liquor Store.

Squaw Valley Mountains
Mountain + trees + stream: I saw this view about six times a day.

The clerk at the literary liquor store looked at us fiction writers and shook his head. All seven of us were at the register and between us we had only a measly couple of six-packs and a flask-sized Jim Beam.

“The poets drank waaaayyyy more than you folks,” he said, referring to the poetry workshop the week before. Indeed we had heard tales of drunk driving and general inebriation; whether this was conduct unbecoming a poet wasn’t clear. “They certainly bought more hard liquor,” he said. The clerk took our money and counted our bills. He still shook his head. “This is kind of sad.”