Sunday, August 2, 2009

Day Zero: Arrival

Today, I learned that the area around Tulsa looks like a giant circuit board from the air. The plane was apparently on lone from The Shire, and I had to practically crawl to get in the thing. Thankfully, they sat me next to a kid, so there was no fighting over elbow room. The next flight I wasn't so lucky. The plane was large, but so was the man sitting next to me. I did the only thing I could and made friends with him, appealed to his sense of brotherhood and fatness. Our conversation was enjoyable. It kept my mind off of the uncomfortable seat, and the knowledge that Lynna and Lex were falling farther and farther behind me.

The day started at 5 a.m. Yuck. I went in to tell Lex good-bye and cried when she snuggled up to me. The trip to the airport was surreal. Telling Lynna good-bye was surreal. Before I knew it, the plane had landed in Dallas/Fort Worth and I only had minutes to find my plane. And the airport was HUGE. I tried to remember what I could of the train system in final fantasy IX (it's about the same, actually), and amazingly ended up in the right place in a timely fashion. Good thing too. The plane left early, while my previous flight had been late. Could've been a disaster.

So we're back to the big guy sitting next to me on the 737. We talked about Fight Club and the Dark Tower series. When we landed, I met up with fellow bootcamper Kevin Whaley. Kevin is a soft-spoken dermatologist with a background in chemical engineering. He writes techno-thrillers. I admitted I didn't know what that was. He said, "Crichton." I said, "Oh." And then we shared a cab to Jessica's house.

Jessica is almost mythically small, but she talks and moves as if the rest of the world is in slow motion. She's a career academic. Something about the history of mathematics. Arabic numberals. I asked her if she had ever read XKCD. She said she hadn't and for the second time that day, I wept. (Not really, but it is a real shame.)

Jessica drove Kevin and I to the town of Buena Vista, Virginia where the conference is being held. (Ew, passive voice.) The conversation on the trip was interesting. It revealed to me just how different writers can be from each other. Kevin asked us some very goal-oriented questions, about what each of us plan to do in our careers. He also wondered what common elements all the best-sellers have in common. (My answer was clarity and accessability.) We all swapped stories about our younger years, school, family, you name it. It was good to realize that my fellows (and my competition) are just people. I have to admit, though, to feeling like an outsider here. Everyone is so...polished. I'm like a peasant trying to play noble. But I think my swordplay will match up nicely with theirs, when it comes to that. (Writing, I mean. I'm not actually going to stab anyone. That I know of.)

The campus is beautiful. More than I imagined. The main building oozes history. Paintings, grandfather clocks, chandeliers, ballrooms, large wooden's freaking Hogwarts. I finally met Kathleen Bellamy, Orson Scott Card's assistant. She was as friendly and helpful in life as in her emails. Kevin and Jessica and I wandered around a bit. We eventually ran into Anna Jordan from Colorado. Anna is a tall, matter-of-fact character with a touch of Dakota in her voice. She's the heiress to a stockyard business and has just one main story she wants to tell, a series of fantasy novels that actually sound pretty interesting. Anna randomly go into the van with us while we drove around downtown Buena Vista and Lexington.

Now I'm about to go to bed. It's only nine, but I'm freaking beat. And I've got to be up by 7:30 for breakfast. All in all, this has already been a huge learning experience, and a positive one. I'll say this though: there is a preoccupation with wealth and fame that I don't buy into, but all in all, things are going good. I know I should end this post with a bang, but I'm tired. So I'm going to bed.



  1. It's so good to read this... makes me feel like I was a part of it. It was kind of surreal to stand there and watch you go through security, too. I'm really looking forward to reading tomorrows post and finding out how everything goes. LOVE you. :)

  2. I can't wait to hear what Orson Scott Card is actually "like". Hope you are enjoying Virginia and get in some play time with all the work I'm sure you'll be doing.

  3. Even your blogging holds my attention. Be well, my friend. I know you'll make the most of this and you'll return to us with stories magnificent to behold.

  4. Lynna: LOVE you too.

    Lisa: Play time? Ha ha ha. That's a good one.

    Couch: We will see how magnificent they are.