The Fellowship of the Work(shop)

 

In the post- Antioch Writers’ Workshop glow, I find myself staring across the pond behind our house, imagining the work fellows as a kind of hobbit band, ferrying books and presenters and attendees through the thick hedges of the publishing world. We soothe self-doubts, calm nervous first-time pitchers and fetch water for the readers at the nightly presentations. Our dependence on each other comes from our mutual love of the art and craft of writing, our camaraderie from the joy we find in laboring over words, trying out titles, searching for venues to accept our poems and stories.

During the week-long journey, we experience the exhilaration and exhaustion of sixteen-hour days, meals on the run and brains on fire with new ideas. A poem grows from a prompt, the outline of a story from a morning presentation. Observing all the eager attendees, we share their joy and angst.

It’s true that workshops aren’t always serendipitous. Some years, trolls show up at the conference, disguised as editors or agents, presenters or participants. Orcs wander in, looking for a dream to slay. But some years the fairies appear, bearing gifts that stir us to become better scribes of the human experience. So it was this July of 2014. Hats off to editor Nathan Roberson and agent Hannah Brown-Gordon for their kind and thoughtful assistance to all who signed up to talk to them.

The hot afternoon wanes. A hiker strolls the path carved among the high grass. I sip my lemonade, Bilbo-ish but with enough Frodo in me to relax for now on my porch, anticipating the next workshop adventure when the wizard calls.

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