The past (long) weekend, I was off in the Black Forest for another Villa Diodati workshop — the first one in over a year. The last workshop was in April 2012 in southern England. But with one thing and another (most of the anothers having to do with the fact that I’ve been too caught up in my indie career and haven’t been taking responsibility like a dictator should), we’ve missed two workshop dates. Until last year, the workshop met twice a year since its inception in 2007, at various places throughout Europe, organized each time by a different workshop member.
I will try to readjust my priorities so that won’t happen again. Meeting with crazy — er, helpful — fellow writers face to face is a wonderful thing, and the energy generated is amazing and stimulating and inspirational.
This time we met at Casa Cristina in Herrischried, about an hour from the Basel airport. The workshop began with multiple catastrophes. While I was still on the train to Basel, I got a call from Floris, the organizer this round — the flight he was on with two other workshop members had been canceled, as had Jeff’s flight from Nice. That amounted to two-thirds of the folks who were going to arrive on Friday.
At least the weather was absolutely unbelievable for Germany in late October, and I sat around in a park across the street from the Schopfheim train station until Jeff and Jeremy picked me up. Floris and Co. rented a car and drove down from Amsterdam, not arriving at Casa Cristina until after 9 pm.
The next morning, Christian joined us, and Sylvia went on a shopping spree — when their flight in Amsterdam was canceled, she hadn’t been able to claim her bag, since she was coming from England.
Normally we critique in the morning and do various writing exercises in the afternoon, but with all the complications this time around, we had to set the critique sessions in the afternoon. Given the amazing weather, we attempted to have it outside on the patio, but unfortunately, the wasps soon chased us back inside.
This year, we had two new members, Grayson Morris and Jeremy Sim, who provided both excellent stories and excellent critiques. I will be looking forward to reading more of their work in the future.
A bit of background: I originally organized the Villa Diodati workshop for expat writers of speculative fiction in Europe, since it’s difficult for us to find crit groups where we live. From the first workshop on, however, we also had non-native speakers who wrote in English. And when Stephen Gaskell joined our ranks, we had our first member who didn’t really need us, seeing as he has more immediate access to other writers writing in English. We’re obviously just too cool to resist. 🙂