Villa Diodati 10: On the joy of hanging out with other writers

Very late Wednesday, I got back from the most recent Villa Diodati workshop, a peer workshop for speculative fiction writers living all over Europe and writing in English.

Yet another dorky group shot

This time we met in Southern England at a “cottage” organized by Steve Gaskell, and I think it’s safe to say that it was one of the most productive workshops we have ever had. The first “exercise” we did after critiques and lunch on the first day was a two hour long writing challenge. In preparation, we sat around the generous kitchen table and each of us said what we intended to do during our writing time. It wasn’t a word sprint, although there were people whose goal was to get as many words as possible completed. I originally intended to do the same thing. But then Floris said his goal was to revise the story we critiqued in the morning and send it off during the course of the workshop. Now, in the last couple of years I have developed the very bad habit of 1) not getting my stories back out after they’ve come home, and 2) for the newer ones, not even doing the final revisions in the first place and never sending them out at all. So instead of jumping right back into Chameleon in a Mirror, I decided to change my goal and revise one of the stories I’d brought to a Villa Diodati workshop a couple of years before and send it out before the workshop was over, just like Floris.

Not only did I do that, the next day we also had a little submission party where we went around the table, described a story or two we needed to get back out into the market, and sent them out right there and then. I got four submissions done that way. Altogether, among the seven of us, we sent out a total of about thirty submissions and queries — and before the workshop was over, we had our first acceptance (not for me, unfortunately …)

In addition to the submissions, I completed over 5000 words on the new version of Chameleon in a Mirror. I also got excellent feedback from my fellow writers on the first chapter and synopsis, including some great ideas on how to make the main character’s goals more consistent.

It’s a good thing I got so much done during the workshop — my progress has come to a standstill since. This weekend, we’re babysitting the little ones while Son and Significant Other are off to Leipzig for a birthday party. Next week, my brother will also be visiting, so since I returned from Britain, I’ve been setting up the spare room as a children’s room / guest room. Originally we wanted to make it our bedroom and move lots of other stuff around, but goals change, as we know …

So right now, the granddaughters are sleeping next door, and I still haven’t gotten any more writing done since the workshop. But we had a lovely day in the garden, and the girls had a wonderful time digging in the dirt, climbing trees, and using heavy machinery. Today it was like summer in southern Germany, and I got the first color in my face. Might not be writing, but I’m a bit ahead of the game because of the workshop. 🙂

The first Villa Diodati was in the autumn of 2007, and we’ve been through a lot with each other since then, so much so, that it’s a bit like a secondary family. So thank you, my wonderful writer clan, for another inspiring workshop. Here’s to a couple more publications and awards to our collective names before we meet again.


Aliette de Bodard’s Villa Diodati 10 Report

Floris Kleijne’s workshop report

16 thoughts on “Villa Diodati 10: On the joy of hanging out with other writers”

    1. That was the query to Audiopod that Aliette wrote, if I remember right, Floris. You weren’t there anymore, Aliette told Steve.

  1. what a great workshop well done all of you – and ahead because of it – you can enjoy the visits better – all the best for coming week:)

  2. An inspiring post, Ruth. There is nothing like a good workshop but one with a history and so much writing, is one to write about. What a marvelous group you all are.


    1. Yup, Karen, I firmly believe that good workshops can be integral to developing as a writer. And this one is so inspirational whenever we meet up. 🙂

  3. Wow, what a great workshop for y’all! There is a synergy that can happen when you get with other writers. So glad you have that ongoing experience. Best wishes!

  4. Oh gosh. Those are beautiful covers (sorry, got distracted). I wish i could have been there, but it was so close to Eastercon. I really miss you guys when I don’t get to go. I was keeping pace here, though and writing like mad. I did get the Diego Silang story out the door and a story I worked on while you guys were at workshop. It was like my genes were scheduled for VD even if I wasn’t there.

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