Sunday, July 17, 2011
Taos Toolbox Days 5 and 6: Who Am I and What Am I Doing Here?
Day 5 began early and ended late. Somewhere around midnight, I finished some work on another chapter of Boulevard of Bad Spells and Broken Dreams. That's two for this week, much less than I expected to write and they're sketchy since I don't have my reference books and Google isn't giving me the detail I want. I looked in the mirror while brushing my teeth and had one of those out of body experiences wondering who the hell was looking back brushing her teeth. She didn't look anything like Kira, a Newyorican witch whose already been attacked by a gang of werewolves and nearly seduced by a vampire. And she's been in The Bronx for less than a month
Right then I decided I needed to first, get some sleep, and second, get back to the real world. I've been in several magical worlds, and in outer space, and in a steampunk town in the old West, and just finished reading a creepy horror/urban fantasy.
Day 6 began as usual, with the 6 am wake up call from my daughter at home. She's waiting to go to camp, lonesome, and we can chat while I make coffee, make the bed, make the plan for the day. Then I remembered that it was MY TURN for critiques!
Sleep had restored some measure of reality left. Just like knew that I really wasn’t Kira and that my story wasn't that bad, I did know I needed to get out in the real world. I really wasn't nervous, but did have a moment of paranoia when I walked into the common room that the silence was because my story was so bad no one wanted to talk to me until the critique round began.
The critique session went fine, as they all have, and I came away with some great ideas and suggestions. I have to blow up the opening and start again, but I knew that anyway.
My classmates and I had a delightful night seeing Taos Plaza, buying some souvenirs for the family, and exploring one of the most cool antique shops/museums that has, among other things, a huge collection of medical equipment from the 1700s to early 1900s including a set of glass diseased eyeballs, autopsy and amputation kits, surgical sets that look like something out of a horror movie, and a male chastity belt. Use your imagination.
The New Mexican food is delicious (tasted my first posole-a type of soft corn kernel) and we arrived back to a gathering in the common room enlivened by wine, whiskey, and beer in the best Western saloon tradition, though we were at one point discussing existentialism. I didn't drink since I was already obtunded enough, but it was again, surreal, near midnight, to be sitting in a room with Nancy Kress, Walter Jon Williams, Jack Skillingshead, a bunch of up and coming writers, most of whom are already published, and some of whom I think will be winning awards in the near future. The names were dropping (in routine conversation) like marbles: Harlan Ellison, Kelly Link, George RR Martin…. I felt like a Bloosmbury—and no I wasn't drunk but as high as the moon.
When Christie handed me her phone to show me a picture, a text message from John Joseph Adams popped into her inbox. Almost dropped the phone. Who am I and what the hell am I doing here? Time for bed.
Tomorrow, I'm taking the day "off" to see the local sights, relax, regain some perspective.
Here are some photos, courtesy of Christie.