Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The San Miguel Writers Conference Begins

One of the few remaining joys of air travel is having mostly uninterrupted time to read. On the way down, I read DIRTY LOVE by Andre Dubus III ( The first novella in this book, “Listen Carefully As Our Options Have Changed,” bowled me over with such amazing images as this: a husband watches a video, made by a detective, of his wife and her lover having sex – “his heart kicking like a hanged man’s feet.” And this line, describing his wife as she was when he first met her: “And it was the way she smiled at him in the realtor's office, as if she’d been waiting for him for years and now that he’d finally come she was shy about it.”

“Listen Carefully As Our Options Have Changed” follows the trajectory of a controlling husband’s reaction to the infidelity of his wife of twenty-five years: fury, blame, regret, longing, need. Dubus’ language is lyrical and true and unflinching. I have read the last paragraph over and over and imagine I will do that many more times before I can stop.

And, no, the coincidence of reading this right after re-reading Rosalind Brackenbury’s BECOMING GEORGE SAND, which is also about the repercussions of a long-married wife’s affair, hasn’t escaped me. But, like Scarlett, I must put all this aside and think about it tomorrow. Because …

Today is the first official day of the San Miguel Writers Conference. And what a day!

Here’s my schedule

  • A practice pitch session with Louisa Rogers for those of us who have scheduled agent pitches later in the conference. Learn more about her at
  • A workshop with Randall Platt ( “Fiction: Just Whose Story Is This? Point of View, Tense, Voice”
  • A keynote address by Tracy Chevalier (, author of GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING (Can you even imagine what it would feel like to sell four million books?) and, more recently, THE LAST RUNAWAY. Her topic: “The Past is a Foreign Country: Why History Matters.” (Writer alert: Check out the posts on her site. She talks about sorting through and sending her papers to be archived. There are pictures of some of her notebooks which gives you an interesting insight into the way she works.)
  • Then, tonight, Alice Walker ( will speak on “Infinite Grace: The Inexhaustible Wonder of Writing.” Take a look at her website for very passionate and powerful essays and poems on the state of the world: politics, inequities, warmongering, oppression.

Buffet lunch here at the hotel and, tonight, a reception billed as “A Taste of San Miguel.”

A LOT to absorb in one day – and this is just the beginning!


  1. Envy is not sufficient to express my feelings of you. I would love to be with you and have this trip. As Carl would say, enjoy the feast.

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