Just returned from six weeks in the Clarion West writers' workshop. You can expect to see many love letters to that particular institution (and my fellow writers, who were a frighteningly talented bunch) as I process the experience. It was a bit like being sealed into a submarine with a bunch of very smart strangers and some brilliant teachers. I feel like we're all emerging from a close-quarters voyage under the polar ice cap, blinking on unfamiliar shores that turn out to be home.
Listening to a litany of someone else's peak experiences can be as monotonous as hearing them recount that suuuuuuper-weird dream they had last night, so I'll spare you.
You leave port, not on a modern submarine, but in an old wooden sailing ship. As you follow the wind around the globe, you make little repairs: a gunwale, a rudder, a keel. Storms cast you up on far shores to replace a broken mast and rig the sails with fresh ropes. As you approach your home, you realize that every piece of your vessel has been substituted with new materials over the course of your long voyage. Do you still stand on the deck of the same ship on which you left? If not, when did it become a new boat?
I now know the answer to this question. It might show up in a new story, or it might not. There are fragments of magic like that lodged in my memory of the last six weeks - moments of wonder and inspiration that I can never fully explain, and won't bother trying. Dreams are like that.