Christopher Barzak
Meditations in an Emergency

Home Again
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Well, I'm home again from Blue Heaven, and already missing everyone. The week went so fast and was filled with much laughter and quipping and good talks and memory making. Chance has a good report of the week, day by day, here . Although she is skewed in some of her reporting (I wasn't checking that waiter out cause he was cute--he wasn't--I was staring because he had this alien chin that compelled me to look at it like a traffic accident). Obviously we have different tastes. ;-)

Anyway, I found out that my book is actually good! I got the stamp of approval from my readers, who are hard critters, which makes me happy because I've worked on this book pretty hard for the past year and a half, and I feel like now I can send it out into agent land. I got some good suggestions for further polishing, but other than that I think I'll be contacting the agents who I've been in touch with this past year or so to send it off to them and see what they think. Hopefully they'll like it as much as my Blue Heaven readers did.

Kelley's Island, where we hold Blue Heaven (in a bed and breakfast called Himmelblau House, German for Blue Heaven) was always beautiful this past week, even when it rained. We had a few good days of fair weather, then a beautiful warm sunny day where Lori and Ben and Paul and Karin and I laid on the lawn and gave each other back rubs. I did yoga, and it was a really great feeling to put myself in those positions surrounded by this vault of nature. The blackbirds with red-tipped tails, all the robins, all the flowers blooming. It was like living in a Monet painting, only not so fuzzy. Lori taught Charlie and Ben some kung fu, then there was wrestling amongst some of the boys, which never occurred last year. More testosterone coursed amongst us this year for some reason.

I'm not so much a stay up all night kind of guy anymore, so I put myself to bed pretty early each night, and lo and behold I had energy the next day, every day, unlike last year, where I was up until all hours it seemed, and slept in all the time. I only slept in twice this year, I think. And that was on days when I wasn't scheduled to critique others. I think the latest I was up this year was 1:30, and that was on our bonfire 80s singalong night, where I somehow ended up being coaxed into doing my three point stance dance yet again. We are all about traditions at Blue Heaven, I guess, cause later on in the week Ben read from Donald Maas' book about being a breakout novelist in his porn voice. Last year he read to us from Kim Stanley Robinson's "Years of Rice and Salt". We also played The Surrealist Oracle again, which actually had several narrative threads going on in it, very dramatic too. I still wonder what will come of the Amber/Roger/Me triangle.

We had good talks about agents and marketing. A different sort of subject matter from last year's sessions, since now most of us have books finished or ready to go out finally, or have sold a book from last year, so I guess the topics will change as our place in the novel writing/publishing process changes as a group.

I'm going to polish "One for Sorrow" further over the next few weeks, send it out to agents, then work on revising a couple of stories that need revising dearly, then begin my next novel.

In a few weeks, I'll be moving home to live with my parents for the summer. This will hopefully help me begin writing the next novel, as it's sort of set on my grandparent's farm (where my whole family lives). I'm hoping that being there will help me remember the rhythms of living in the country again, of all those little differences that begin to crop up as soon as you leave corn country for a city gone bust an hour away. I'm both wary and hopeful about the whole enterprise, so we'll see what happens.

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