Today I’m holed up in the gorgeous mountains of northern New Mexico with an amazing (and, frankly, very intimidating) cast of writers. The food is good, the scenery is spectacular, but it’s the casual insights and crumbs of writing wisdom that make this worthwhile.
Insights like this exchange, which came about during this morning’s round-table criqitue session:
“The Dalai Lama is very good at observing people.”
“Yes, but he doesn’t eat their heads.”
So true. So very true.
I always feel like a complete poseur at a workshop like this. Everybody else is so smart and so talented and so accomplished, and I’m just… me. I listen with awe as they analyze stories, taking them apart and figuring out how to improve them, reweave them, rebuild them. Discussions of themes and symbolism and philosophical arguments about whether a particular approach to a particular kind of story can work.
Me? I’m overjoyed if I can find one intelligent piece of feedback to give on any particular piece of writing. Often I can’t, because everybody here is functioning on a level so far above me. Even the Dalai Lama thing—would I have considered His Holiness’s lack of head-eating if it hadn’t been pointed out this morning? Probably not.
The scenery does compensate for the crushing sense of not belonging here. (Even if, as I type this, I can hear the constant keening of the banshee wind. The accursed, damnable, banshee wind.) So while I feel like a complete fake, I can take comfort in views like this:
I had a few more photos, but I’ve already resized them once and made a hash of things. I’m too lazy to go back and try again. Maybe later this week.