RandyCon Writers’ Retreat Wrap-Up

Should have taken more pictures.

Let me just say that the Winter 2015 RandyCon was a rousing success. Songs were sung, jokes were told, and many thousands of words were written, or, in the case of the revisers, unwritten. I myself churned out almost 9000 words, which is around thirty-five pages for any non-writer-folk readers this blog post may attract. I killed off a character, introduced the Big Bad, wrecked the town and the magic school, and my protagonist did something unpredictable and that I didn’t like but that showed me a little more about who she is and what she’s capable of.

So yeah, I feel like it was pretty successful.

For those still scratching heads, RandyCon is a twice-yearly writers’ retreat put on by Randy Henderson (a hell of a writer and a hell of a nice guy, you should check out his books here) at Fort Worden State Park near Port Townsend, WA. It’s a decommissioned military base that used to house artillery for coastal defense that’s been repurposed as a rudimentary resort and office park, and RandyCon happens at (I’m guessing) an old NCO barracks. It’s a pretty good setup: big kitchen and common areas, and four wings of three or four small rooms each, with a bathroom in each wing. There were thirteen of us, all told (although there was some coming and going), and we all brought treats and provisions and took turns cooking and cleaning and so forth.

Daytimes are for writing, and everyone finds either a table and chair or spot on the couch or whatever work situation suits them best. It’s a very library-ish vibe; hushed conversation and lots and lots of keyboard-tapping. When the coffee-pot’s empty, someone makes more, and everybody goes off to play in their imaginary world, occasionally popping a head up to see what’s happening in the co-experienced one. Suffice to say, it is a very conducive working environment (to give you some idea, I wrote two-thirds as many words in the last two days as I did in all of November).

After dinner, things become more fragmented. Some folks keep working. Some folks start drinking (some folks do both). Friday night, there was a singalong, thanks to Spencer Ellsworth’s mad guitar skillz and Christy Varonfakis’ moral (and choral) leadership. Saturday night began with a reading of one of Christy’s short plays, after which we took turns reading. I went second, or maybe third, while the bar was still low, and read something I’d written the day before that in retrospect might have been a touch overdramatic. I think I’m an okay reader, but I’m still figuring out the whole *what* to read thing. Luckily it was a pretty friendly crowd.

I feel pretty good about the whole thing, for lots of reasons. I got some work done. I got to reconnect with some friends I don’t see nearly often enough (which is *entirely* my fault). I got to spend time around a bunch of folks who, like me, take this whole writing thing seriously, many of whom, unlike me, have sold books and stories and have what I will enviously refer to as writing careers. Most important, I’ve come away reenergized to write this second draft of my novel, which has been kicking my ass for a while now, and re-engaged with the story and characters and the whole gee-whiz-fuck-yeah that doing this thing that we do can be. I’m a lucky fellow to get to pursue my dream in life, and it’s times like this weekend that really bring that home. I may or may not ever have any success in my endeavors, but times like this that hardly matters.

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