Yesterday, I got home from the Rainforest Writers Village, on the shore of Lake Quinault in Western Washington. It was pretty awesome– for five days, I got to hang out with thirty-seven other writers and focus almost entirely on writing.
For my own part, I was actually doing more brainstorming than writing. In this (relatively) distraction-free headspace, I felt like I was more able to to follow ideas where they led, to flesh out various characters and worlds, and search for the potential plots and stories within them. And without day-to-day life constantly pulling me out of that headspace, I felt like the ideas came much easier.
That’s not to say that the Rainforest Writers Village was entirely distraction-free. A couple times a day, some of the more established pros among us would host workshops. So we got to listen to Jennifer Brozek talk about the intricacies of writing and editing anthologies, and Mary Robinette Kowal, who is also a professional puppeteer, talk about how to read out loud an audience. But because the workshops were about writing, I feel like I never really lost the creative vibe, even when I occasionally took breaks from staring at the computer screen.
Another side effect of being in a place with thirty-seven creative, awesome people is that you inevitably want to talk to them. So there was plenty of socializing, and long chats over meals, as well as a few “after hours” workshops on the intricacies of certain Scottish malt beverages. Many of my writing role models and heroes were there– Mary, the Inkpunks, and plenty of other awesome folks.
Side Note: You know what’s great about being a writer? Once you get involved in the community, there develops a large and ever-growing overlap between your role models and your friends.
Side Note 2: Social anxiety still sucks, and I get it worse among writers than most. I think it’s because even though you’re not supposed to care what other people think about you, the fact is, I do care, very much. I love the writing community, and the vibe I get from hanging out with creative people is addictive, even if I’m just standing to the side of the conversation and listening. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t one of things that keeps me working at this.
The other big distraction from writing was the rainforest itself. On Thursday the Sun came out, which meant that the hiking trails proved too tempting to resist, and I spent plenty of time traipsing through the woods. I hadn’t done any hiking in the woods since going to Yellowstone in September, so this was definitely overdue. And in the evening, when the sun set on the far side of the lake– magnifique.
On Friday, the clouds and rain came back with a vengeance. This place gets over 130 inches of rain a year, so needless to say, sunny days are rare, especially outside of the summer dry season. And yet, for all the rain, the place was not actually any less beautiful. The forest glistened, and the creeks running through the woods seemed revitalized, and each morning, when the clouds lifted off the hills of the far side of the lake, it was every bit as cool as a sunset.
So, the setting was distracting, but eventually I turned it to my advantage and wrote a piece of flash fiction that took place on the very trail I had been hiking on. The idea might work for a longer piece, as well, so I’m happy. Even if the starting point did happen to be “were-faeries.” (Don’t ask.)
To those folks who were there: It was great meeting everyone! Look me up on Twitter, and if you’re a local Seattleite, hopefully I’ll see you at Norwescon. If not, hopefully I’ll see you at another con in the future, or barring all else, at next year’s Rainforest. Thanks for a great weekend.
(Pic below: Mark and Keffy, on Sunday morning at about 10:30, engaged in the final heated word count showdown. Keffy won with 42,087, but it was a close thing. I lagged slightly behind them at 5,636, but I’ll content myself with the brainstorming I brought home.)