The schedule at the Odyssey workshop is strenuous, especially for someone used to the indulgences of being a full-time writer. The class, sixteen students plus Jeanne Cavalos and me, meets for four hours each morning. The first hour and a half I lecture on some writing-themed topic (so far: Monday, writing in scenes; Tuesday, plotting; Wednesday, world-building). This includes discussion and writing assignments. After a brief break, we critique two or three stories, with each student commenting for two or three minutes and then Jeanne and I holding forth at much more length. Lunch in the cafeteria at 1:00. In the afternoon I meet with individual students for conferences, three or four per day. Evenings I read the stories and write the next day's critiques.
Socializing mostly happens at meals, although last night ten of us piled into cars and went to Dairy Queen for ice cream. The students have kept up this schedule for nearly five weeks now, PLUS they are writing a story per week. They are tired. They are hot (94 degrees yesterday). And they are determined and eager to learn.
Are they learning? I haven't seen their previous work, but Jeanne has, and she says they are. The students say they are. All are enthusiastic about the workshop. And what I have seen are some very promising stories. Even if the sweat is dripping off me onto the page as I read them.