This time, the Villa Diodati workshop was held near Nice thanks to the organizational superpowers of Jeff Spock.
We came in on Friday, and Jeff made several car trips to pick us up and drop us off at this place. One of the best ooohs and aaahs of the first day at Villa Diodati is checking out the house we're staying in. So far, we've never been disappointed. The first workshop was held in a German castle, the second one in Jaulzy, near Paris. Both were beautiful and inspiring locations.
There were more participants this time and quite a few newcomers. Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Catherine M. Morrison and Benjamin Rosenbaum came for the first time. Ben has been involved in Villa Diodati from the start. Together with Ruth, he's the brainfather of the project, but he'd never made it to the actual workshop before. I was thrilled to meet those three.
Rochita I knew over the internet: I already had a soft spot for her writing style, which grew even softer over the course of the workshop. Her Villa story was delicate, hung on spiderwebs and deliciously understated.
I hadn't met Catherine before, but I developed an appreciation for her sense of humor. The story she brought was packed with really neat technical details (unsurprising, since she's an engineer). I liked the way she worked them seamlessly into the story.
Ben... Well. After having met him, I understand why he's so successful. His imagination is truly outstanding but he also has a feel for the internal logic of a story and can point out the plot holes and character motivation problems in the wackiest slipstream. He understands the underlying threads of a story better than anyone else I know and he shares that knowledge freely. His critiques were great.
And then there were the repeats: Jeff Spock (organizer, logistics officer, second-in-command), Ruth Nestvold (Our Beloved Dictator), John Olsen (chef, subtle fiction expert), Floris Kleijne (goof, goblin expert), Aliette de Bodard (Asian specialist, tea brewer), Stephen Gaskell (Englishman, monsters-in-the-cellar specialist), Dianna Carlyle (certified English-Teenager translator) and myself (talker).
We held critiquing sessions in the morning and wrote in the evening. There were prompts, writing marathons and the Surreal Oracle, a game which probably only works well with writers.
On Saturday, I came down with stomach flu, but I was fine by Sunday, so that was ok. Jeff made another slew of car trips on Tuesday to drop us all off.
I can't wait for Villa Diodati 4. I want to see how an AI writes (the Surrealist Oracle predicted that the AIs would come to Villa Diodati 4)