or, What I learned at writing camp:


It is pointless to bring books. After writing for 4 or 6 or 8 hours, I do not want to look at more words, what I want is a cocktail and to talk to other writers.

What would you begin writing if you knew you would die soon? – Annie Dillard

One pie-slice of brie is not enough to snack on while writing. I can pound down the entire wheel.

People read memoir for 2 reasons:  (1) “I wish that were me!” (eg: EAT PRAY LOVE); or (2) “I’m so fucking glad that’s not me!” (eg: RUNNING WITH SCISSORS)

8 days without walking or talking to my dogs is 7 ¾ days too many.

IMG_0689I can wear flannel pajamas in the lobby of my hotel, in a SRO bar, to a bookstore, out to a nice restaurant, and never once feel the need to explain.

Speaking of pajamas … there is no need to bring real clothes, or even bras, to a writing retreat.

It is possible to attend a conference with 12,000 humans and run into the Chair of your English Department at least twice a day.

A story should afflict the comfortable, and comfort the afflicted.

How many writers does it take to decide who should build the fire? Five.

How many writers can figure out how to silence the smoke alarm? One.

I can make small talk about the weather with Tobias Wolff and not even feel weird about it.

I went to a panel titled: “Full Disclosure: How Do You Spill Your Guts Without Making a Mess?” Answer: “You will make a mess. Memoir thrives on mess, and your writing will have consequences.”


What did you learn while I was away?