There is something to the idea that group synergy equals more than the sum of its parts.
Last weekend, twelve of us got together at a beautiful riverfront resort up the McKenzie River in Oregon to write science fiction stories. This weekend, like the annual ghost story weekends, required all participants to write a science fiction story in 24 hours. We had some good chats about science fiction, and then at 7pm on Friday, after dinner, we all got down to it.
Saturday at 7pm, the dinner dishes done, exhausted yet energized, we sat in a comfy circle to hear the stories. It’s like having someone reading an entire anthology of excellent science fiction stories. We laughed, we shivered, we exclaimed, speculated, we clapped, we cheered. And then we realized that every one of the stories had certain elements in common. How could that be? There was no collaboration, no collusion. How could every single story have some of the same thematic elements? These were not things we discussed in pretrip meetings or over Friday night pizza and salad. They just happened.
I prefer to think that these things are in the ether. That our mind channels, when opened to the Great Creative Powers become not unlike an insecure internet portal. We wander around the grounds in the sunlight, pondering our stories, and those ponderings collide with another writer’s musings, and bingo! They both come up with a common solution for their outrageously different stories.
We’ve had this type of synergy before in these weekends. I’ve facilitated enough of them now that I thought I’d seen everything, but no. This was extraordinary.
And made every one of us eager to repeat the process.
Next spring: Fantasy Story Weekend.
…is now in the history books.
I have to say, this was perhaps the best weekend with the highest quality stories across the board. Everybody really rose to the occasion. You’ll be reading some of those stories in magazines soon, I expect.
And now we turn our attention to Science Fiction Story Weekend this fall, perhaps in a new venue with accommodations more befitting our advancing ages, and the next Ghost Story Weekend next Spring, God willing.
I’ll be teaching Science Fiction Story Weekend at the Oregon Coast on October 23-25 this year.
A maximum of thirteen of us will gather at the mysterious Siltcoos Station for a weekend of speculation and writing of outlandish, otherworldly stories. We’ll engage in world-building and species-building exercises and then write a complete short story in twenty-four hours. Tuition includes instruction in the short story form, particularly science fiction, lodging and simple pot luck meals.
This workshop will be based on the format of the amazingly-popular Ghost Story Weekend that I hold every spring. We eat well, we write like fiends and we always make sure there’s time for long walks down the train tracks or country lanes, and for laughing together as only writers can.
This is a Lane Community College class, offered fall term, and will only appear in the Florence campus catalog. Registration opens September 4. Section CRN 23262 includes lodging ($117) and Section CRN 23262 assumes you’ll sleep somewhere else (a shame, really) for $73. To register, click here.
Please join us. You might be surprised with what you write.
Another Ghost Story Weekend has come and gone. Fifteen of us this time (two over the limit) showed up at Siltcoos Station on a brilliantly beautiful weekend to write the dark and horrific, and we all did an excellent job.
- The Surviving Members of Ghost Story Weekend 2009
As usual, there were stories of vampires, of haunted places, of mysterious ghosts, of friendly ghosts, of helpful ghosts, of harmful ghosts. All ghosts were welcome, and they came in well-considered abundance.
But what could be better than hanging out with other writers for a weekend? We ate together, laughed together, camped out in cabins like the adventurous souls we are, and tried to scare each other silly. And in so doing, we became better friends.
This was the 19th annual Ghost Story Weekend, and one attendee, Christina Lay, has only missed one of these annual fests. This year she brought finger food (literally). I wonder what she would have brought to that missing weekend. Maybe we’ll find out next year.
Meantime, I can’t wait for another spring to roll around and I put out the call for all ghost story writers to converge on a hopefully-haunted boathouse on the spooky Oregon Coast.
It’ll be another great weekend, I’m sure.
Registration for Ghost Story Weekend at the spooky Oregon Coast is now open on ExpressLane.
Note that there are two sections: One is for 11 of us, who will stay in the cabins, and the other is for Florence residents who will go home at night (missing the best part, if you ask me).
CRN 43125 is for attending the workshop alone, no overnight stay. The tuition is $64 plus college fees of $8.00; total cost $72.
CRN 43124 is for attending the workshop AND staying in the Siltcoos cabins. The tuition is $64, $45 for overnight, shared accommodations, and the $8 college fee: total cost is $117.
I’ll email everybody who registers as the time approaches…
See you then…
And we’ll be writing them, May 8,9, and 10 at the haunted Siltcoos Station, on the mysterious and foggy Oregon Coast.
This will be the 19th annual Ghost Story Weekend, where thirteen of us gather together and write a ghost story in 24 hours. Fast, urgent and scary. Or hilarious. Or sentimental. Doesn’t matter, as long as it’s ghostly. Then we read them in the haunted boathouse on Saturday night, breaking only once for dessert and a bathroom break, which we have to find by flashlight.
Registration for this spring term class will be through Lane Community College, Eugene, Oregon.
So while this is a little commercial for my favorite weekend of the year, I also have something to say about the benefit of writing a short story in 24 hours: You can do it. We call can, and the more we do it, the better we get at it. In the eighteen years I’ve been teaching this course, nobody has failed to write their story (first draft, of course), and some regulars write two. It’s all a matter of training.
So come join us! We always have a really good time.
I’m finally caught up, but hoo boy, May was quite the month. It’s all over now, and I didn’t have the usual let-down migraine, for which I am very grateful. Fourteen hours of sleep cured much of the leftover exhaustion after a stressful time.
In May: We had a deadline to finish the remodel of the bathroom before guests arrived. We had the pretrip meeting here for the Ghosts at the Coast. We did Ghosts at the Coast. Family arrived, and more family arrived for a great reunion over Mother’s Day. I turned over the odometer yet one more time. I had a biopsy (negative). We went to Utah for a different family reunion to scatter my mother’s ashes (an event that went better than I could ever have dreamed, by the way, and left me with a warmth in my heart that I haven’t felt toward my family in a long time), and I finished a very introspective and emotional paper for school. Whew. That was my May. No wonder I’m tired.
And now I will do my sixty hour practicum and then take the summer off. I’ve not had a summer off since I was fifteen years old. This will be sweet. The garden will be a showplace.
And what have I learned in this process?
It’s all one day at a time.
Respond rather than react.
My attitude is the only thing I have control over.
Life is good.