Tag Archives: expat

Villa Diodati 12

Last week, I got back from the most recent Villa Diodati workshop, this time in southern Spain on the Costa del Sol.

Villa Diodati 12

It. Was. Amazing.

We were in a big, beautiful vacation home a 10 minutes walk from the ocean. The sun didn’t stop shining, except for one morning when it took a while for the haze to burn off. I added a day on the front and the back before the other workshop participants arrived and after they left, and I thoroughly enjoyed the amazing writing venue.

Writing in southern Spain

We talked.

We ate.

We drank.

We danced. No, really!

We even critiqued each other’s fiction. *g*

It might look like a party, which it was, but it was a writer party, where conversations continually revolved around writing projects, markets, marketing strategies, writing ideas, and words, words, words. I managed to finish the Big Fat Translation a couple of days before my flight, and the workshop was amazingly energizing. While I was there, Sylvia and I decided to take a shot at another collaborative story (during one of the many writing conversations), and since the workshop, I’ve gotten a big chunk of that done. I’ve also started analyzing the first draft of A Wasted Land and written a couple of new scenes. During the brainstorming session, I got some great ideas for the next book in the Glassmakers trilogy, and I started integrating those into my Scrivener file the next morning.

This workshop was a lot more informal than previous workshops. Normally, we critique in the mornings and do exercises in the afternoons. This time, we lazed around the pool or in the hot tub in the mornings, did our critiques in the afternoons, and had writing discussions in the evenings.

I put the first third of Recontact through the workshop, a collaborative novella I wrote with Jay Lake some time ago. While the feedback was largely positive, it has led me to the conclusion that I need to separate the prequel story and the novella proper after all. One of my beta readers also had problems with the change in style between what we had originally envisioned as the prequel story and the novella. And then during our marketing discussion, a number of markets were suggested for the novella that hadn’t existed when Jay and I first wrote it and sent it out to the few who would take 20,000+. All of which means I have a lot to think about regarding Recontact. 🙂

Naturally, we also played the Surreal / Surrealist Oracle, which has become something of a tradition at our workshop. (For instructions on how the game works, check out this blog post.)

A couple of interesting questions and answers from the Surreal Oracle:

Ruth: What’s your favorite orifice?
Sylvia: You really shouldn’t ask such a thing on a first date, ok?

Grayson: What would happen if GRRM found a small band of pygmies, all named Danyjon Targartron, camped in his back yard?
Jeff: The answer, as it is to most things, is hot chicks wearing styrofoam.

Steve: What’s the secret to a successful writing career?
Grayson: A bonfire will call the spirits, but you have to wear three pairs of underwear and shout “waha waha ooh” to get the bartenders to notice.

One of our evening writing sessions involved brainstorming a shared dystopian world that we all contributed story ideas to. I hope we’re able to follow through with it. I started my story (working title “Killing Twilight” and set in Forks, Washington) just after our first two members left us. Whether we will ever get around to doing the rest of the brainstorming, however, is another matter entirely. Now we are all back in our normal worlds, and there are many other things besides writing and writers clamoring for our attention.

But it was fun while it lasted. 🙂

Villa Diodati 11, Or: Why didn’t we get this organized earler???

VD11

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.

VD11

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. 🙂