It’s been a couple of weeks, because it’s workshop season! The advanced workshop (Repeat Offenders) was incredibly productive for the seven or so who attended: new outlines written or old outlines corrected, 85,000 new words written and many more words than that revised. And starting last week: the workshop proper. We have seven people attending, a clever and pleasant crew. People mostly understood right away what we were saying about novel structure, and now, at the halfway point, they are starting to hand in their second-week assignments, which look promising.
Chris, Barbara, and I had a covid haiatus, and we are returning to a new location: no longer the scholarship halls on the easternmost side of campus with their terrible beds and lack of kitchen facilities, but student apartments a mile west, with equally terrible beds but now with kitchens! Chris is running his short fiction workshops while I run the novel workshops with Barbara, so I never see much of him, but for this one time a year, I get to see enough of Barbara, and these weeks of time together allow us to talk about the things we never quite get around to when I visit her at her house or we meet in KC to have lunch.
These workshops are the best part of my year, the thing I look forward to more than anything else. I do good work here, and I make a difference, I think. This year has been one of the exceptionally good ones: every time I walk into our workroom, I am surrounded by post-it lots and productive conversations. Just being around these people, in this fervor of creativity and hard work, inspires me.
This is especially pleasant this year. Semester (in fact, the last two years) was awful but even considering that, especially demoralizing things emerge from time to time. The latest is that someone who should know better has over the years criticized my skills and teaching to grad students, including mine. Disliking how I do my work is understandable (if dubious: I get excellent evals from students, and they go on to publish — and after all, I feel much the same about this person’s teaching); but talking about it to the grad students is unprofessional and pointless. It also inevitably gets back to the person you are talking about, and if I were staying, it would be another friction point. Luckily, I am not staying.
Workshop always overwhelms everything in the nicest way, but it’s also great that my mom’s health continues to improve. It’s a little over two months since she broke her hip and she is out and about again: taking taxis, going to the bookshop she owns, running errands, now with the assistance of a walker. I’ll be seeing her again next week for the first time in a month, and my brother tells me I will see lots of progress.
And also nice, the fatigue from the long covid seems to have eased. I was starting to think I would never be able to actually remember anything clearly again.
I just read and sent final markups on The Privilege of the Happy Ending back to the publisher, which means it’s a real thing. Final copies will be in hand by about October 15, though the release is 10/24/2023. Book production has changed since I was a managing editor in the 1990s. Whee! This is an exciting time.
And finally, there is a new Coode Street Podcast I am guesting on. We mostly talked about stories. I don’t know how coherent I was, but I always enjoy talking to Jonathan and Gary. Maybe we’ll do it again soon!