martes, 13 de mayo de 2008

Villa Diodati 2

Villa Diodati 2 began on Saturday, April 26th. I cannot tell you exactly when it ended: most people left on Tuesday or Wednesday, but Aliette and I stayed until Saturday. In a way, I still feel as if I'm sitting around the fireplace with a glass of wine in my hand and an urge to write.

Aliette de Bodard chose a spacious gîte in Jaulzy, which was fortunate, since late additions to the workshop (including myself) meant we ended up a little cramped.

I was one of the most fortunate, and shared a kid's room with Nancy Fulda. Aliette slept in a bed under a tilted roof right next to the bathroom, and Ruth had an attic window right over her sleeping place which let in the bright light at improper dawnish hours. Otherwise, the location was great: there was a beautiful church right next to the gîte, an old beautifully kept cemetery, and a cherry tree in full bloom. We couldn't have come up with a more suitable milieu for a writing workshop, if we had brainstormed for a fantasy setting.

The participants at Villa Diodati 2 were Nancy Fulda, Aliette de Bodard, Ruth Nestvold, John Olsen, Floris Kleijne, Stephen Gaskell, Jeff Spock and myself. The workshop was structured like Villa Diodati 1, with story critiques in the mornings, lots of writing time in the afternoons, writing prompts, shared story ideas, brainstorming sessions and more. All of this sprinkled with liberal amounts of conversation and writing insight. We had three magnificent cooks. On Saturday, John made gourmet duck. Ruth blew our brains out with yummy chili on Sunday and Jeff made tagine on Monday. Plus, there were assorted cheeses, some Spanish chorizo and cured ham that I'd brought and all kinds of goodies for lunch.

To say I learned a lot is an understatement. Last Villa Diodati, I noticed that my writing improved after the workshop. I wasn't ready to call a pattern, but after seeing the results of Villa Diodati 2 on my productivity, I have no qualms to say that these workshops make me evolve as a writer. I'm writing more, I'm more confident and I think I'm even writing better.

The workshop was awesome, and the extra week I spent with Aliette was very enjoyable and extremely productive. Aliette and her boyfriend helped me work around some of the technological problems in my novel idea, and I learned a lot from the way she structures and plots her stories. I read the first three chapters of her novel and they were awesome: I wouldn't be surprised if her novel (which she edited a bit at Villa Diodati) turns out to be one of the workshop's success stories.

This workshop was all kinds of awesome, but don't take my word for it. Here are a couple more blogposts by other participants.

Villa Diodati 3 will be held in the south of France in six months or so. I'm looking forward to it.

*This pic was taken by Floris. More over here.

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