Thursday, June 23, 2005

Anticipation and dread upside-down-cake

I heard two weeks ago that I was accepted to the Squaw Valley Writers workshop. I dutifully filled out the form they sent which addressed housing and transportation issues, and sent it back with my deposit.

Then I had two conversations with a writer friend who's gone to Squaw twice, and both conversations depressed me and filled me with dread. Apparently I have done everything wrong: I didn't sign up for the "Finding the Story" workshop, thinking from the description that it's a session for people writing memoirs, but my friend told me it's the most intense experience Squaw offers and that its participants walk around like they're on little acid trips. I indicated that I would be coming up to the conference (it's somewhere near Truckee and Lake Tahoe) by train but learned I should carpool from the Bay Area, because that's when the bonding starts. I should make sure I get a room in one of the large shared houses, because meeting and living with all these people is part of the networking and bonding that makes the whole thing worthwhile; but I had asked on my form for a "single" room which means I might get isolated in a condo-like place.

Now I ought to telephone them to correct my living and transportation choices, in other words ask for special treatment, which my Midwestern self recoils from. Otherwise I've practically sabotaged my whole experience before it even begins.

The other depressing aspect is that the conference is, my friend reported, full of in-groups and old-timers and long-time staff, some of whom simply treat it as R&R from their lives as creative writing teachers in the UC system. I'm highly sensitive to cliquishness and in-group language and behavior, as shown by my experience two summers ago at Holden Village, and when confronted with it I become alienated and depressed. I guess I'm going to have to drink a lot of alcohol when I'm up there to compensate. That should be interesting, at 7000 feet elevation.

There's only one way to redeem the experience and create a glint of hope: write and rehearse several short, sarcastic, hostile songs about the conference in advance, and perform them during the inevitable talent show.

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2 comments:

Frances said...

Your friends are wrong. I went to Squaw twice. The first time I was in a small condo, the second time a hotel. I had a great time both times. I never did finding the story but there are lots of opportunities to meet people and hang out. The teachers and students are awesome.

djkashian said...

so, I'm going this year for the first time too, so if it totally blows, we can drink a lot together...

Darla