Sunday, June 6, 2010

That special time of the year...

Christmas in June? No (although the excellent but generally forgotten band The Young Adults had a great song called Christmas in Japan in July). And not summer vacation, either, although I guess it's that time of the year.

No, it's the annual Rancho Mirage Writing Workshop, in the blasting heat of the California desert. A baker's dozen of writers working together and critiquing, under the sharp-tongued guidance of Raymond Obstfeld.

This had become an annual event for me...except for last year, when my health problems kept me from attending. Not so this year. I'm annoyingly hale and hearty, and have my nose and consciousness buried deeply in my latest novel.

We've all received 20-35 pages of each other's manuscripts, and we'll start off with a round-robin critique at 5 this evening. There's some good stuff here, and some very odd stuff, and some familiar stuff that is farther along (pages 540-560 of one manuscript that I last saw many pages back). Some of the writers are veterans of this little workshop, others are fresh meat. This loooks like fun.

So I'm looking forward to a week of nothing but writing and critiquing. Well, along with a few drinks in the evening. And heaving myself into swimming pools to try to dump some of the heat.

"But it's a dry heat," the apologists all say. Yeah, well it's still 110 frigging Farenheit. And with all the golf courses in the area (this is right next to Palm Springs), it ain't really that dry anymore, either.

But it's a dry heat. Yeah, Satan probably says that about Hell, too.


Frances Garrood said...

Please excuse my ignorance, David, but why does the proximity of golf courses interfere with dry heat? Have I missed something?

Jen said...

Glad you are having this opportunity. I went to the Pen to Press Writers Retreat in New Orleans two weeks ago and it was possibly the most awesome writing-oriented experience ever, though I'm still a little worn out from the whole deal.

By the way, Hell is just outside of Bakersfield. I have it on excellent authority.

David Isaak said...

Hi, Frances--

Sorry to be so late in answering, but I wasn't web-connected out there.

The answer to your question is that huge amounts of water have to be applied to keep the grass alive in such a climate--and almost all of the water the grass takes up is immediately shot back into the air through evapotranspiration. So there's a constant sort of wet haze rising from the golf courses. The real, natural desert around there is like a sauna, but the air around the golf courses is like a steam bath. And all manner of birds that aren't native to the desert have taken up residence there.

It's kind of weird.

David Isaak said...

Hey, Jen--

Retreats are cool. I'm not so crazy about conferences, but retreats where the focus is on everyone churning out pages--those are a real joy.

As to Bakersfield, I could easily believe that Hell is somewhere nearby, and probably even within the city limits.