Yesterday’s horoscope summed up my current state of mind: When you didn’t know the rules, it all worked out fine. Now you know the rules and things seem suddenly difficult. Chill out. Take a break.
I’ll take the planets’ advice and break to share Lessons Learned from my first residency.
- Those fancy fingerless gloves with the fingertip saving hoods rock! Next year, I’ll buy a pair with full thumb coverage. Twenty percent of my digits were literally left out in the cold.
- If everything is important, nothing is important. Short stories average one “moment.” Novels may have three or four. Savor the moments. Explore the emotions and relevant details of that special time. Ellen Bass, Ben Percy, and Claire Davis.
- Neat is boring. Chaos is exciting. When your characters are too damn comfortable, throw a wrench into your story’s gears. Watch your protagonist sort through the bedlam. Fun! Cristina Garcia
- Stories are chemical reactions. Start with high-energy characters. Watch them collide and combust. Clean up the mess. Story done! Apologies to Frank Gaspar. My sound-bite summary doesn’t do justice to his chemistry inspired talk.
- Bring a full bottle of whiskey. The hotel bar didn’t stock Jameson and my flask only made it halfway through the week. A gal can’t live on Oregon Pinot Noir alone.
Next update – the People of Pacific University.