Patrick and I and Jim Macdonald are home again after a week of teaching at the Viable Paradise writers’ workshop on Martha’s Vineyard. We do this every year. The other five instructors (this year we had eight total) were Debra Doyle, James Patrick Kelly, Steve Gould, Laura Mixon, and Cory Doctorow.
Jim Macdonald: How to put together a plot.Those are all approximate descriptions.
Jim Kelly: Ten cheap plot tricks.
Debra Doyle: Style, language, and names.
Me: Expository theory and close-up text analysis.
Cory Doctorow: Copyrights, other rights, and how to sell yourself as an author.
Laura Mixon: The care and feeding of creativity; getting the Muse to show up on schedule.
Steve Gould: The real life of the writer, and how to cope with it.
Patrick: The current state of the industry.
(In less structured settings, we can find ourselves explaining anything from useful handwaving dodges, how to fake guns and ammo, coping with reviews, the one true way to do word counts, worldbuilding techniques, model dialogues with prospective agents, some known pitfalls of sex scenes, the history of the anthology, what goes into an editorial style sheet, and how to behave at conventions, to the finer points of Mafia and Thing. There is an Oath, and the occasional grant of Permission to Write Badly.)
To go with our eight instructors, we had twenty-eight students: our biggest year ever. (Group shots.) I refuse to try to correlate names with photographed heads, and as of right now I’m giving up on trying to match names to links (krylyr? orogeny? huh?), so here’s the name list as it stands: Terry Berube, Lucia Bibolini, Evelyn Brown, John Chu, Linda J. Daly, Terri Defino, Monica Eiland, Evan Goer, Barbara Gordon, John Hawkes Reed, Scott Hawkins, Lucy Huntzinger, Zak Jarvis, Mur Lafferty, Nicole LeBoeuf-Little, Greg London, Emily Mah Tippetts, Elise Matthesen, Andrew Miller, Chris Miller, Bart Patton, Cal Primer, Kathleen Retterson, Diana Stewart, Macallister Stone, Laura Strickman, Dave Thompson, and Erin Underwood.
Also the staff, of whom I’m surely forgetting a few: Kate Salter, Ernie Jackson, Jennifer Pelland, Andy, Bill and Carol Boyke and their daughters and Max, Pippin Macdonald, and Emma and Carita Mixon-Gould.
I need to speak here in praise of Carol Boyke. Every year, after VP, I swear I’m going to keep track of my lecture notes. Every year, when I’m getting ready for VP, I find I lost them in the morass of post-workshop exhaustion, so I have to reconstruct my lecture on the fly. This year was running true to form. Then, when I got to the workshop, Carol handed me my notes from last year. She’d saved them. She also put them up online as a .pdf file, so I can find them whenever I want. Yay, Carol!