Cameras, Snow, Rivers, and a Circle of Readers

First, there was the snow, falling in unexpectedly large amounts during the video shoot for  And then the forecast for ice the next morning, so I drove down to Longview in the dark and the falling snow, white-knuckled at times, mostly so I wouldn’t miss the last stop on this list.  I made it, and collapsed for 9 hours of almost uninterrupted sleep (this is only worth mentioning because it only happens once or twice a year in my life).

I drove off the map (literally – my car GPS said so) to my friend Caroline’s house.  Caroline used to run a bookstore in Longview, and she and I about ten other women read Women Who Run With the Wolves two times over and talked about it over potlucks – a lovely two years.  I used to crew on sailboats for her husband Dean.  And she taught me a lot about writing.   At the time I lived in Longview, Caroline was writing and producing plays, and whenever we went anywhere her characters would come along with us.  They would be included in conversation in the car and their views referenced in philosophical discussions.  I had not seen her for two or three years, and not lived in the same town for about 9 years, and yet it felt like a natural resumption of a conversation as if there had been no break.  We ate breakfast together and spotted the season’s first hummingbird and a dead goat, and we walked out on her dock.

carolines-river1The picture is the Columbia River from Caroline’s dock.  The sky and river were about the same color that morning, and so the image could almost be flipped.

caroolines-river-upside-downWell, actually, it can be flipped.

From there, I visited my son, who is still wearing carharts and working on VW’s like he used to do ten years ago, and still enjoying it.  All of this is making me wonder at how much it feels like I’ve changed.  Caroline, the river, and David all seem to have changed less than me.

The next stop was a time-killer hour in Vancouver, where a character from a friend’s WIP walked in doing what he had been doing in the last scene she read me.  Really.  Thank god the world is strange.  I also got to outline five story ideas while drinking coffee and watching the character.  Then it was off to meet Jay Lake and David Levine and about five others for a typical writer’s social hour.  That means we all met at the same coffeehouse, sat close together, and disappeared in the various fictional worlds inside our computers.  No kidding.  I do that regularly up here, too.

My last stop was Powell’s in Cedar Hills Crossing, where I attended a book group that had been reading my book.  I’m sure I’ve never before been surrounded by so many people who have read my book.  It was weird, but very nice.  They seemed to have genuinely liked the book.  Also, like all science fictional crowds, they were smart:  they asked some questions I had no answers for and pointed out some new things to think about.  As sf writers, our world-building is often a bit oddly shared with our readers and other writers as we have ongoing multi-book conversations.  It was worth the long drive through snow the night before.  We all need validation every once in a while, and it has been a hard two months on the writing front.  Hearing good things from readers helped me feel better.

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