Thursday, June 30, 2011

At Sycamore Hill 2011

I'm in North Carolina this week, attending the Sycamore Hill Writers Conference, in the mountains at the Wildacres retreat. We are only eleven this year, which means I'm not having to wake up at six (or earlier!) every morning to get my critiques prepared in time. Internet access is thinner than the last time I attended (in 2009), so I'm feeling a bit more out of touch than in previous years. But that's fine. As with writing retreats, isolation only contributes to the intensity and tightness of focus on our shared professional, technical interests.

Veronica Schanoes is again my roommate this year. She works mostly in the classroom, while I mostly work the small desk in our room. Last night while I was working in our room she came in to refill her fountain pen, which prompted me to remark, since I was in the middle of writing a critique of a story set in 1943, of how there was a reason the character used only pencil and fountain pen to write, which prompted Veronica to recall her mother talking about how wonderful the invention of the ballpoint pen was, and in turn sent me into a reverie about when in school I was required to acquire a fountain pen and learn to use it, wells in our desks in grade school for holding ink bottles, and the importance of buying washable ink because accidents were inevitable. I promise you, I didn't feel in the least nostalgic.

We had extreme, wild thunderstorms on Tuesday. Looking out the windows in our classroom building at around 3:30, I watched hailstones bouncing down the stairs down to our building. I was sure, given the volume of rain that pounded us, that the ground would be soggy and covered with puddles the following day. No such thing. All of the water was easily absorbed. (And of course the air was as humid as it had been before the storm.)

We left the retreat compound last night to go out for dinner. (Meals here are more about talking than anything: the less attention one pays to the food, the better. I will only say there's a good reason we have a budget for the "snack food" that we munch in the classroom.)  More later, with more pictures. But I have to dash now, to finish preparing the next critique.

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