Sorry there was such a gap in my entries. Things got very busy on Tuesday and did not let up until late last night!

So, as I mentioned in my last entry, Tuesday was the “go forth and talk to a stranger” exercise. Tuesday morning at about 10am they packed us into two minivans and drove us to the Carlsbad Library with the admonition to be back by 3pm and to find at least one stranger to chat up and find out some background on them. This was also our opportunity to do any research we needed to do for our stories. The library is in an area with lots of shops and restaurants, with a movie theater and a grocery store, so there were plenty of people wandering about doing their daily life stuff.

Some of our group scattered instantly and others stayed in little clumps of 3-4, but almost everyone gravitated to the coffee shop first. I got lucky when a women chatted me up first by making a comment about the jewelry I was wearing. Unfortunately there wasn’t much chance to have a long conversation with her since we both had coffee in hand and she was clearly on her way somewhere, but I still got some tidbits of information and it sort of “warmed me up” for doing more chatting up of perfect strangers.

The one wierd part of the day, though, was the fact that the camera crew was following us around and recording us talking to people–which tended to put a bit of a damper on some people’s desire to talk to us. We tried to tell them it was a student film project, but it was still kinda strange to have a “casual” conversation with someone while a big camera was pointed at us from about ten feet away.

(I don’t know if it’s like this every year, but the camera crews–both still and video–follow us everywhere! It takes getting used to, but after a couple of days they get almost invisible)

After we got back to the hotel we were given some parting advice from Kathy Wentworth and Tim Powers and then, at 4:45, the countdown started and we were off to writing.

I had a pretty decent idea of what my story was going to be, and by about 8pm I had about 2000 words of complete and utter crap. I went to my room and wrote a little bit more, and by 9:30pm I had 2500 words of complete crap. I went to bed early, set my alarm for 4am, and after I woke up I wrote a little more and by about 6am I had 3000 words of crap. I went down to the hotel restaurant, parked in a table in the corner, ate a huge breakfast, and stayed there while the server plied with me huge quantities of coffee, and by about 8am I had 4300 words of stuff than stank and I had been able to type “END”. For the next few hours I filled in all of the places where I’d typed “Something goes here” or “Describe this”, then I printed it out and put my computer and my printout in my room without looking at it. I didn’t think about the story for about two hours, grabbed a bite to eat, and then went back to it and did edits on the hard copy. Made some changes, went back to the computer, revised a few things, and then printed out my final finished version at about 1pm and turned it in. (Jack was coming in about 3, so I wanted to be totally finished by then.)

So that exercise alone has made this whole week worth the price of admission. (Oh, wait… they’re paying ME!) Time to write is the rare thing in my life, and my biggest failure as a writer is that I simply do not write enough. And often the reason I do not write enough is because I figure that if I only have a couple of hours here and there throughout the week, it’s not even worth bothering to start anything. But I now KNOW that I can really churn out a story that doesn’t suck too hard in a short period of time if I prepare for it properly.

After we all turned out stories in, the administrators took them away and made copies of them for everyone, then we were told which random three stories we had to read for critique. Mine was not one of the ones picked, which I was little disappointed about since I really get a lot out of critiques, and I wanted some feedback on whether the story was utterly totally sappy or not. However, the cool thing is that pretty much everyone is reading all of the stories anyway, and so everyone is still getting feedback on their stories even if it isn’t formal crits given in the class.

Now it is time for me to put my running clothes on and lace up my shoes, because I have been eating WAAAAY too much this week, and my dress does not have much room for error. :)