I'm about to spend a few days teaching at the Colgate Writers' Conference, in Hamilton, New York, not far from where we live. I generally don't seek these things out, preferring to spend my summers picking lint out of the furrow in my brow, but I read at Colgate a few years ago and thought everyone there was kind, friendly, and a lot of fun. So this year I went all-in.
We have only taught at one conference before, in Michigan back in the early 2000's, and though the people there were also quite nice, every single one of Rhian's students dropped out--I think one was sick, one was in rehab, two of them locked themselves in their cabin drinking all week--something like that? And she ended up sitting indoors with our then quite young and feisty children, rereading the handful of books she'd brought and going out of her mind with boredom.
Anyway, I'm surprised now, as I was then, at the range of work students submit--all the novels I'll be critiqueing this week have problems, but all of them have a lot of potential too, and I'm looking forward to discussing them with their authors. But really, I'm not going to lie to you here, I am getting some of that frisson of anticipation as I wonder what kind of crazy drama might ensue in the coming days--a fire? A nervous breakdown? A torrid affair that ends up with people half-naked and unconscious in the middle of the street? I wish no ill fortune on anyone of course, but the novelist in me (specifically, the Alison Lurie in me) is hoping for fireworks. In any event, I'm bringing my cameras.
Do you guys attend conferences in the summer, or teach at them? Any good anecdotes you can share? And what are your favorite (inevitable) writers'/artists' conference/retreat novels? American Genius springs to mind, and I know there are others...
...and if you're in the Hamilton area, stop by campus Monday night, I'm going to read a new short story, alongside my friend and colleague Alice Fulton.