distraction no.99

Nova Ren Suma | On Writing & Writing Distractions

Not an Author Newsletter… something else.

After Workshop

My silence this past week had a purpose: I was away in Portland, Oregon, for the Tin House Writers Workshop. I had a midnight flight back home Sunday night, but it was delayed and didn’t leave Portland until 2 a.m. I’m not sure if I have jet lag or am just tired from a very tiring week?

So much to report, but I’ll say a few words now, because who knows how tired I’ll be once I go back to the day job tomorrow:

It has been an insanely long time since I lived in a dorm. E was with me—his screenwriting partner lives in Portland and they were working out a script—so we shared a double in a men’s hall. SO WEIRD. The rooms were very sparse. The beds were so narrow we had to pull the thin mattresses onto the floor. Let’s just say I’m looking forward to sleeping in my own albeit uncomfortable bed tonight.

My workshop was with Aimee Bender, a writer I’ve loved since first discovering her in a literary journal where I assisted as a work-study student and then especially in her first short story collection, The Girl in the Flammable Skirt. So it was very strange to be sitting in a room with her, and stranger still to have her read my writing. As a workshop leader she is fantastic.

In workshop, I went up on the first day. I really don’t know how it happened. Aimee asked for volunteers; someone said she’d go first, and then there was this long moment of silence in which no one wanted to go second. All at once my hand shot up and I said, “I’ll go.” I have no idea why I did that except I knew, if I got it over with on Monday, I’d have the rest of the week to have fun. This theory worked, actually. I was exceptionally nervous to be workshopped for the first time in years, but it went very well. People responded and I was very flattered. Of course, there were suggestions, and I’m thinking hard on Aimee’s advice from our conference especially. I also made some writing friends; we’ve said we’ll trade work. I hope so.

So much more to say about the week; maybe I’ll talk about it later.

But, finally, the city of Portland: what a wonderful place. I spent most of the week on the beautiful campus of Reed College, but what I did see of the city was very influential. I could live there…


6 responses to “After Workshop”

  1. I’m so glad it sounds like it went well! And it’s great that you’ve made connections (and plans) with fellow writers. That’s something I really meant to accomplish (and suppose I still could reach out and do) at Kenyon.

  2. Jeez, how come I didn’t realize you were HERE in Portland this past week?!?!? I showed up for Denis Johnson’s end-speech. We could have met! Bummer.

  3. What a beautiful opportunity and one that was obviously very worth it if you’re exhausted – that’s always my sign that good things have happened.

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