What I Did On My Summer Vacation

I was going to do this: http://www.thewritingsalon.net/home-taos.html but a friend, who had gone in 2004 said something along the lines of “DON’T GO!” and when I said, “but I thought you loved Taos,” she replied, “Taos yes. The workshop, no.” I was so close to putting my money down, and had started to dream of Taos…

Thank god I had another friend who had gone to Taos the year before, but had gone to: http://www.unm.edu/~taosconf/index.htm
Michelle said this was the best conference, not too schmoozy, lots of great events, and of course, Taos. So I signed up for the Creative Non-Fiction workshop.

The Welcome Letter from the teacher scared me.

He assigned three books:

The Situation and the Story: The Art of Personal Narrative by Vivian Gornick;

I Could Tell You Stories: Sojourns in the Land of Memory by Patricia Hampl; and

This Boy’s Life: A Memoir by Tobias Wolff .

I assigned myself one book: Mountain City by Gregory Martin

The teacher also requested we submit 10-25 pages of our manuscript via email a week before the workshop… Manuscript? What manuscript? I didn’t know I was working on a manuscript!

Anyway, after several false starts, I managed to cobble something together, starting with a piece I wrote about banana bread… I titled it “Reconstructing My Mother” and sent it off. In return, I received via email the 10-25 pages of manuscripts from each of the other 12 workshop attendees… and an assignment to provide a written response, 1-2 pages typed for each. I planned to drive, figuring I would have time to wind down from my life, and get into a more meditative space mentally, so I had less than a week to do it in!

My instructor,Greg Martin, looks like a sweet twenty something young boy, dark curly hair, dimples even for gods sake, but in reality he is a stern task master! and in his 30s. On our first evening, at the welcome dinner, he handed us each a packet 3 inches tall …. more reading material, earning our class quite a reputation around the Sagebrush Inn, our “campus” for the week.

Suffice it to say he is very smart, very driven and quite intense. Fortunately he is kind, and he is a good writer and a good teacher. He really knows his stuff. I learned a lot about the craft of writing, and where to go for more.

I did manage to see some of Taos, as I arrived early and had one complete day (Sunday) to tour: I wandered the plaza in the early morning, and went to the Pueblo, and then the Pow Wow.

Our schedule was full with not only homework and classes, but with other activities: author readings, panel discussions, open mic events and other such literary stimulation. It was great fun.

I was, however, very tired; the intense intellectual schedule, combined with the heat (90s) and the dry dry air, and high altitude have conspired against me. No headaches from the altitude though. (nearly 8000 feet!)

It turns out I picked a good conference ultimately. One of the 10 Best according to USA Today.
It was an awesome experience.

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