The first ever Out of Excuses Workshop and Retreat has drawn to a close. The last of the attendees have been seen off, and Brandon and I will be vacating the premises after a final debrief with Mary this evening.
We know this much already: It was a success. The attendees learned a lot and had a great time, we got eighteen episodes of Writing Excuses recorded (including two with special guests who happened to be in town,) and the event broke even in spite of some cost overruns. I debriefed some of our attendees as I dropped them off at the shuttle station and the airport, and while there were suggestions for improvements, everybody raved over how wonderful the event was. We'll be making a few changes the next time we do this, and we'll be taking attendee input into account. Especially since there were a lot of things they insisted should not be changed.
One of those things was the Croquet LARP. We had sixteen players on two teams: paladins, rangers, wizards, clerics, thieves, and barbarians all striving together to claim the other castle's Macguffin. There were cacophonous battle cries ("IN BUSTER'S NAME!"), magic wickets, lightning bolts, and attacks from a pair of Bocce-ball giants and the Raging Dragon of Danmallet.
Perhaps you had to be there, but if you speak to anyone who was you will know I speak truth.
For me, the event was a delight on almost every count. The non-delightful count was the word count. I only hit 10% of my 25,000 word goal, and while it was a high goal, I should have been able to get to at least 10,000 words, even with the extended breakout sessions, extra one-on-one time with attendees, and the hours spent cooking dinner on Friday. There were a number of factors working against me, but I have to own up to the fact that when I did manage to get some uninterrupted writing time, I floundered. I will, however, blame the Microsoft Surface for me not getting as much uninterrupted writing time as I could have. A device that won't sit on my lap and let me type comfortably is patently useless at a retreat. where the best writing time is to be found in a comfy chair on the porch. Some of our most prolific attendees could be found out there hammering out words while the fireflies flicker and danced, and Buster the Dog chased squirrels. In order to write this post, I'm sitting at a table in the basement. Let's be clear about something: I can do that at home, and will enjoy it more.
But I have to take responsibility for bringing a new device with me and hoping it would work. Stupid. Next time we do this, I will bring a tool which I have rigorously proven will work for me in this sort of setting. I don't know what it is yet. I have research to do. Rigorous research.
The next Out of Excuses event has not yet been scheduled. It's not easy getting Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells and I into the same place at the same time these days. Publishers control book tours for three of us, and all of us have conventions to attend. Once we know when we're doing it, we'll announce it over at WritingExcuses.com. Then we'll give you a couple of weeks to assess your schedule and your finances before we open registration. When registration opens, you'll probably need to be hovering at the computer. The inaugural event sold out in 9 minutes. We won't be letting any of our 31 alumni register for the next one, but this event had over 90 people on the waiting list..