While we're going with the flow and trying not to over-orchestrate matters, my wife and I are making some vacation plans, and I'm making some writing plans.
Plan Number One - The Vacation
We're going to Santa Fe, New Mexico, for vacation this year. Neither of us have ever been, yet we've always been attracted to the city. Perhaps it benefits from a good PR campaign but we have a vision of a clean, artistic city with a comfortable temperature. We're visiting in June, avoiding festivals, so we can get a feel for the city, and staying five nights, flying into Albuqurque, renting a car and driving to Santa Fe.
Those few sentences cover several weeks of conversations, Internet searches, and perusing several books. We have friends, who just moved to Ashland last year, who loved in Santa Fe for 35 years, so their input was helpful. I considered driving, but that was a whim. More thoughtfully considered was taking the train.
I've always loved trains but haven't traveled them much, outside of the beer train in the SF Bay area and a few times in Germany and Japan. The trains in this part of the country just don't make much sense. The rails were laid decades ago and the population and commerce centers have shifted drastically. Also, this is a mountainous area so the train routes were planned around the course of least resistance. That usually meant avoid the mountains as much as possible.
To get to New Mexico from Ashland, we'd first need to go north to Klamath Falls by bus or car. The train would then take us down to Sacramento and on to LA before turning east. The trip would only cost $368 for the two of us, one way, but would take 30 hours. My wife wasn't willing to commit to 30 hours on the train.
Plan Number Two - the Writing Conference
I try to go to a writing conference every year, a practice I re-initiated a few years ago. Back in the late 80s, I went to Antioch College, in Yellow Springs, Ohio. I liked the environment. I vaguely knew the town and area from my time stationed at WPAFB over in Fairborn, Ohio. Yellow Springs has a pleasant, small town feel. The conference costs weren't high, and they had some excellent writers planned as speakers and instructors - Lawrence Block, Orson Scott Card, Sue Grafton come to mind from many others - and Yellow Springs was easy to reach.
My writing conference needs have changed since then. I more crave time devoted to my own writing activity with socialization among writers, agents, publishers and editors, desiring their company, than attending seminars and courses or going through writing exercises and 'getting published' lectures. That causes me some consternation about where to go.
Second, it's tough traveling out of southern Oregon. Not as tough as leaving parts of Africa or the Middle East but it is often a tale of planes, buses, and automobiles. If I'm going east, I need to leave early, usually five to seven AM, and head to a hub for a transfer. The next flight is often after a a layover lasting a few hours. I chose a conference in Iowa City, Iowa a few years ago. Getting there took sixteen hours. The course was okay but the socialization that I craved was absent.
After that, I turned my attention to something closer, in Oregon, California, Nevada and Washington. Last year and the year before, I attended Mendocino Coast Writers Conference. Just a six hour drive from home, it's also a coastal location, enabling me to get sea time. The socialization wasn't bad, nor were the instructions, seminars and conferences, and yet...it wasn't quite what I sought.
So I'm looking again, thinking, trying to figure out where to go without spending too much in travel time or registration money. Like Santa Barbara always sounds great but it seems pricy. My timeline is my own.
Along all of these lines, I have been considering beginning a writing conference here in Ashland. I thought I would do it in conjunction with November and the novel in a month campaign. My conference would be about socializing with evening speakers and readings and a few local day trips.
I'm not ready to take that on yet. I might start with something smaller, like a speaker series.
I don't know. Meanwhile, I need to figure out where to go. Early registration is going on at Mendocino. Maybe I'll return there.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com