Finally, the last of my Taos posts. After almost two months to digest this, and plenty of time staring out at the ocean from a deck chair, I think I have put together some thoughts that are semi-cogent. I know, maybe I should spend more time in a deck chair, but I can't get work to buy one for me.
So...two weeks with writers in the mountains. Nothing that Nancy or Walter can do will prepare a group of people for each other and how they will co-habitate. Suffice it to say that writer culture still trumps writer frailty.
At the time of the workshop, there was some friction among some writers. Some writers seemed competitive and other writers seemed to dislike each other. One of the writers left before the workshop was over for a variety of reasons. At the time, perhaps, you might not be capable of feeling comfortable, because your own writing is being critiqued, and that's uncomfortable enough, even when the critiques are glowing.
People who have been to longer workshops can speak to this better. What's it like out there the 4th week of Clarion? A wee bit tense. And don't you want to vote people off the island?
As I look back at Taos, I still find the signs of writer civilization. While we may have had one or two problem children from time to time, for the most part, writers seemed to learn from the experience, to bond with each other, and to treat each other with courtesy in their communications after the workshop. They genuinely miss each other, and value each others advice.
Still, I find my time in writer culture at large to be very rewarding. Most of the writers I interact with are friendly, helpful and supportive. I find that many writers are quite generous with their time and support. (I believe that this is the reason that our workshops exist--more experienced writers paying it forward.)
Writers do spend some time talking about how you don't want to be "that guy," and "that guy" can be many things. It's just that you notice "that guy" more in a microcosm.
What I'm trying to say is that later, when all the dust has settled, and people have come down the mountain, you find that the writers you bonded with over two weeks are the same courteous type of writers that you involve yourself with. At least in my experience.
I have some notes from Daniel Abraham that really, really apply.
1. Write well--make beautiful things.
2. Meet your deadlines.
3. Be pleasant to work with.
4. Be flexible.
5. Be persistent.
And so it goes as we keep plugging away.