So, I’m here at Nimrod for the week, and it is gorgeous as ever in spite of the daily showers and thunderstorms. I arrived with great optimism and enthusiasm for the days ahead. And then it all went to hell in a handcart.
First my printer wouldn’t print. It signaled low ink so I replaced the cartridge, and still it won’t print. Yesterday was my day to be “on”–i.e., have the conference with Cathy Hankla (writer in residence), followed by group critique, followed by reading to the group after dinner (not the work that had been critiqued). I was disgruntled about the printer, but I’d brought copies of all my work for critique and I figured I could do my evening reading from the screen.
I spent yesterday morning reworking my 1,000-word piece. My computer started frustrating me. I’d have the document up and all of a sudden– and frequently– the screen image would go from 125% to 100%, 73%, 50%, 27%… but I persevered and was pleased with the results. I saved it before going to lunch. And after lunch, the document wouldn’t open. I got a message that the required index.xml was missing– whatever the h*ll that means! So I tried to get online help, ended up spending more than an hour and $44 with no apparent effect, so I cut that off and pondered what in the world I’d do about my reading.
I ended up reading a timed writing. I had done that for my fiction class earlier this summer. It wasn’t great, but it was well-received.
So last night, I was reviewing the day and decided that whatever else, my conference and workshop had been great! I’d submitted “The Doll’ and the first draft of a short story murder mystery set during the Civil War at Chimborazo Hospital. Cathy concluded that both pieces shared the same strengths and weaknesses. And BTW, both dealt with amputations and body integrity– which was not a thought that had crossed my mind! The group’s appreciations, trouble spots, and suggestions are going to be extremely helpful with re-writes.
Participants send work to Cathy ahead of time and one of the things she does is bring in books with marked passages she thinks will be helpful to each participant. She recommended a section of Steering the Craft for me. Coincidentally, I’d brought that book with me, having bought it on the recommendation of Amy Ritchie Johnson, my VMFA Studio School teacher. So if you are a writer, get thee a copy. And more importantly, read it. (Do as I say, not as I did.)
Last night I concluded that boiling frustration and irritation are not good. (Duh! You heard it here first.) As soon as I return home I’ll take my computer to the Apple Store Genius Bar. In the meantime, I’ll just go back to yellow pad and pencil and make the best of it. (Those of you who’ve read my blog on old writing technology will know how difficult this will be for me. But I shall persevere!) I’ll take copious notes on work to be revised after my word processing function has been restored. I’ll read Le Guin and Natalie Goldberg (Writing Down the Bones) to improve my writing and other books for pleasure.
Technology will not ruin Nimrod for me! I’ll still enjoy soaking up Nimrod’s atmosphere as well as the enthusiasm and wisdom of all the writers.
A year ago, I attended one of my favorite writing retreats: the writers’ weekend at Nimrod Hall. Unfortunately, I was unable to make it this year, and I missed the camaraderie and stimulation I find at Nimrod. I recommend my readers find a good residential writing workshop; in addition to the community of writers you’ll meet, you’ll also receive great feedback on your writing. Below is a blog post from this time last year, telling a little about Nimrod and the programs it offers. I hope you’ll check out the opportunities they have!
For many years I’ve traveled to Nimrod Hall in Millboro, Virginia, for their annual writing retreat. Nimrod has inspired several of my stories and given me hours of valuable writing time.
Last year I kept a travel log of my two weeks at Nimrod. I shared everything from packing my bags…
…to the wild women writers I met there.
As I prepare to depart, I look forward to my misty morning walks,
and family-style meals with writer friends,
and uninterrupted writing time.
This year I will share my travel log on my Facebook page. I hope you’ll join me there.
Nimrod Hall, established in 1783, has been providing summer respite from everyday stress since 1906. It has been operating as an artist and writer colony for over 25 years. The Nimrod Hall Summer Arts Program is a non-competitive, inspirational environment for artists to create without the distractions of everyday life.
What if an uninvited guest drops by?
Happy half-hour was typically celebrated with our workshop group, followed by dinner during which we dispersed among the other writers present. Then we adjourn to the renovated Rec Hall for 8:00 readings. On Sunday night, Cathy Hankla and Sheri Reynolds read and Charlotte Morgan gave us our marching orders about the week’s structure.