So, where was I?
Yes. Thursday Evening.
After the afternoon critique sessions, we had another amazing dinner–this time at Piece, a Chicago high-end pizza joint.
At this point, once fed and watered (and by “water” I mean “Jack Daniels”), it was time for us to take a tour of locales used in Richard’s novel Disintegration. While warm in Chicago for October, rains occasionally dampened the mood (so to speak).
However, the rain gods hit the pause button long enough for our tour. It was fantastic seeing the places from the book–the changes in the neighborhood as well.
Let’s go to THAT bar…
The evening wasn’t done yet.
There is a little pub featured in a pivotal (and by “pivotal” I’m mean a “sex in the bathroom”) scene in Disintegration. It was based on a real bar called the Inner Town Pub. This is where the tour ended–because Richard was going to read from a bit of the novel tonight.
It also has a small stage in the back.
I’ve been in so many places like this in so many different countries, that I think these types of places are a universal constant.
These places all smell the same, by the way. Ireland, Germany, Korea, South Africa, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Morocco, Turkey, Russia, Brazil, and Uruguay.
They smell of desperation, beer, and decades-old cigarette smoke.
Anyway, we settled into a couple of tables. There were a few regulars (and by “regulars” I mean “30-something drunk boys and girls”) playing pool and we asked if they would mind if there was a reading.
It’s at this point in the story that I need to pause and tell you how drunk and “uninterested in the arts” I expected these folks were. I was right about the first bit–they were amazingly wasted. But when Richard began to read…the bar fell silent.
Even with a Chicago Cubs play-off game in the background.
It was one of those unexpected moments that you figure would probably suck, but didn’t.
I’d missed the part of the sign that said “Home to the Arts.”
And then, on the way back to the inn, the rain gods opened up the taps and pissed on us…
I’m about a lyrical as the Donald while he is 3AM tweeting-on-the-toilet. #Covfefe
But we were going to meet Jan Bottiglieri and the topic was connecting cross-genre writing, so I was intrigued.
Poetry, I discovered, is more like computer coding–at least coding back when I was trained for it. It is, according to Jan, “a story told with an efficiency of space.” I never thought about it that way before.
Word count is pretty far down on the worry list for us prose authors. In Poetry, space concerns are near the top. Since this session I’ve gone back to some of my old poetry books and have looked at them anew. Tennyson, Frost, Eliot, Longfellow.
There is an elegance in the pages I never noticed before.
I read a poem a day now. Because I have some make-up work to do.
That afternoon, we reviewed another two stories, then off for a third brilliant dinner at Lillie’s Q. I’m not usually a BBQ fan, but this place was AMAZING.
It’s the “almost all of us” group shot time:
We did look in on a few bookstores after dinner and, with our wallets significantly lighter, made our way through the rain back to the inn.
All us introverts are beginning to tire out from the amount of social interactions in the last few days…so I’ll wrap up the weekend fairly quickly.
The rather fantastic Joe Meno discussed and workshopped with us on the craft and creative processes around speculative fiction. The reason I’m not going into further detail on this session is what I wrote here was the genesis of something…that could be interesting.
Let’s just say I revised and added another 20,000 words to that workshopped piece since that session.
We had one last story to critiques for the week, and people began to go their own ways soon after. Dinner (and Richard was four for four with his foodie-place selections) was at the Publican Anker and was, in many was, the epilogue to a story that started only a few days earlier. I had to leave for the airport very early the next day, and needed to pack and finish up school work. We broke early–none of us that comfortable with the goodbyes that would ensue.
*Sigh* Goodbyes are hard after spending a week in basic isolation pouring your heart out via the written word.
It was an amazing experience. I learned a lot. Made new friends.
And I miss them, to be honest.
Every day, when I head down to the Lair to write and work on my MFA assignments, see a few pictures from this trip.
I smile, then get to work.
This whole thing is about making my writing better. I had no idea that the journey would introduce me to some warm, genuine, talented, and brilliant people. Lucky me.
Yeah. Good times.