Going to the Mississippi to do some listening, learning, and writing

Just signed up to attend the David R. Collins Writers’ Conference next week (next week!) in Davenport, Iowa.

Once upon a time, in a previous life, I was going to move to Iowa City to attend the Iowa Writer’s Workshop in Iowa City, while my then-fiancé was going to work on his masters in film studies at the university. As things turned out, I only ended up driving out there with him and his mother to check the school out and interview at a LensCrafters in Cedar Rapids to see if I could transfer there, before he broke off our engagement so he could go off alone and find himself. I did drive out to visit him one time after he had started classes, a 10 hour drive from Detroit listening to “Heart of Darkness” on cassette as I drove alone through the middle of nowhere at night in spite of my long-standing fear of driving down a deserted road alone at night and having a stranger covered in blood stagger into the path of my headlights.

But this time I am going to Davenport, to take a 3 day novel writing workshop with one of my favorite writers, Jac Jemc, a workshop designed to help us discover ways to create the groundwork for a novel. As the proud creator of completed rough drafts of two novels and incomplete rough drafts of at least six other novels, none of which were created with anything resembling an outline, I could really use this class. And mainly, I love Jemc’s writing and have been waiting for an opportunity to learn from her.

There are other workshops I’ll be taking at the conference as well, and am particularly curious about the “Ecstatic Essay” workshop Rachel Yoder will be leading, since she mentions “visits from psychics” and “alchemic experimentation”.

I should also mention that the 17 year Magicicada Brood III is making its appearance in Iowa and western Illinois this year, and while there have not been any sightings so far in Davenport, I’m hoping a few stragglers may make their way over to the river to visit me. Brood XIII was out here in 2007 and it was one of the most amazing experiences in my life. I’ve been fascinated by cicadas since I was a child, and over the years they’ve always appeared magical to me, as if their very appearance in my life has been a sign, of what I don’t know, but something significant all the same.

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