Skip to content

Notes from writer camp III



I spent my summer vacation with a bunch of really amazing people named Evee the Pokemon and Super Fantastic Bubble Plastic and Scrounge and Lady Lazuli in the Hudson Valley region of New York. We ate a lot of hippy food, drew until our hands hurt and then laughed and read aloud and laughed some more and then took a nap. It was a good time.

I was there because Dan Chaon and Lynda Barry let me come along and be their classroom assistant. Or, as Lynda called us, a classroom pixie. Basically it’s the best part of teaching — picking up class work and making dozens upon dozens of tape circles and then whispering about how much we were craving beef, because at this camp, there was no beef. As it turned out, that’s actually totally livable — although I did miss coffee an awful lot until I found out that they sold decent coffee in the cafe, and then, well, dear reader, I could have lived there forever, in my 10×12 little private room with zero air conditioning and wifi that really was more of a whisperfi and the groundhog who lived under the front porch whom I named Mister Tubbins. Writer camp was the best. This was so so so a million times better than the last time I went to Writer Camp. And kind of silly that Lynda and I live in the same state and end up going to these other states to be writer camping. Or glamping, as the case was at Writer Camp. Again, best vacation ever.

As with all things, if Lynda Barry asks you to do her a favor, you do it. Whatever it is. Give me a kidney? Sure, Lynda Barry, here’s a kidney. You want a matched set? I’ll be over here in this tub of ice, happy as can be.

While there, I was alerted to the acceptance of the short story that I wrote the last time I was in Dan’s workshop — and the story I workshopped the time before that just found a home in Zoetic Press’ Non-Binary review — so clearly I need to hook my wagon to the Chaon/Barry party and be content to follow wherever they may lead because it’s working for me.

Work continues on the novel. Still. The same novel. Okay, I wrote two other ones right now too, but I need to get this asshole out the door already. It has overstayed its welcome. Out the door, you! Unfortunately, I’m in the weeds of the final quarter, basically rewriting the entire shit and works. Which I should just do rather than continuing to putz with the first half until it is just so. It will never be just so. This is the problem with writing on computers, Lynda Barry says. This is why you write by hand. Using ink. For real. A Flair pen is where it’s at, according to Lynda Barry. She is wise.

And now school has started up again — I’m teaching, again, even though I swore that I’d spend fall working on my novel and my terribly busy day job that continues to consume my every waking thought but keeps a roof over our head and allows me to say “Fuck it all” and buy a fifth row seat for Hamilton while in New York. Because who needs to make rent? Not this kid. (I’m joking. We don’t rent.) However, it sounds very much like the company I work at for my day job is currently in the end stages of life, the musicians pulling up deck chairs to play while the boat sinks. My plan: Like Leo and Kate, I’m going to stay on this boat for as long as I can. And also teach this fall because if I end up not having a job all fall, I’m going to be mad, plus it’s my favorite class to teach. And also, maybe sign up to take the GRE to finish my PhD. Or just finish the damn novel and get it published because really. Really.

I finally put a publications page up — it was about 85% complete when I got frustrated with the formatting and just hit publish. This is why Lynda Barry is right — I should really just use a Flair pen.

But then I couldn’t talk to you, fair reader. Hello. Are you there? I enjoy you, just as you are.