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Chesapeake Writers Conference – Day 2

Day two is in the books down here at the Chesapeake Writers Conference.

Kids and Food

I did NOT beat the kids to the dining hall this morning. In fact, I didn’t go to the dining hall for breakfast. I woke up feeling like I had a cold or something coming on, so I decided to get some vitamin C.

I also got a breakfast sandwich from a well-known fast food chain whose name I will not mention so as to avoid the inevitable shaming from my girlfriend. Suffice it to say, the sandwich was really good and I don’t regret the decision in the least.

I went to lunch as quickly as I could after craft talk and I beat the kids. After workshop, I did the same and beat the kids. One of the student staff members sat next to me towards the end of dinner and informed all of us workshop participants at the table that if we wanted seconds, to go now; the rumor was that “the boys” would be there in five minutes.

He was right, too. Fortunately, I didn’t want seconds. I’d gotten all the protein (again) that I wanted. So I went and got a couple of cookies to see how those were. The oatmeal raisin ones were really good.

Craft Talk

We had two. The poet Liz Arnold and the all-around writer Matthew Hall both presented.

Liz presented on poems using Germanic and Latinate words in English. I thoroughly enjoyed this. Not just because I love poetry, but because during the presentation, she asked us to identify roots of words in the poems and I did pretty well. More importantly, I took some great notes, especially concerning going and exploring how I use sound and the physicality of words in my writing work. All of it, not just my own poetry (whenever I work it, but that’s neither here nor there). I think I want to come back next year, but for poetry.

Matthew Hall’s presentation was about using Improv theatre skills to help develop characters.

The participation in his lecture involved several groups of students getting up and doing Improv and then afterwards, all of us discussing how that particular game could inform character.

One of the participants, who’s also in workshop with me, was urging me to go, but I refused at every turn. I’ve never been good at Improv and it’s never been fun. Whenever I’ve tried, I’ve never just gone along with the scene partner; my writerly instincts kick in and I want to write the scene instead of being in the scene and allowing the creation of it to be collaborative. I’ve also had apparently, the same problem in my conventional (with a script) acting. So I wasn’t going.

Still, this sort of thing is good for creating and fleshing out characters. Sometimes, it’s the stuff around the goals your character has, that you need to make the characters truly three dimensional and believable.


We talked about the personal essay. I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation as I’m a huge fan of the form. We read and discussed The Invitation by Barry Lopez and a fabulous essay, The Death of the Moth by Virginia Woolf.

One of the things we discussed was staying in the moment and being present to experiences unfolding in front of you and delaying thinking about writing about them until later. Whether that’s a good thing. If it is, are you able to do that. It was a fun conversation. I’m enjoying still thinking about it.

Afterwards, Angela had us to choose a color, then go outside and walk around campus for 15 minutes, looking for all the things of that color, then using something you found outside as the starter for an essay.

I chose red and I was going to write about the red in the many bricks used to build the buildings and walking paths on campus and how they remind me of Fort McHenry in Baltimore, but I decided to instead write about the Flag of Maryland. I’m working on that essay after I leave here, so I will not be talking about any of it in this blog.

Still, the beginning fragment of the essay started us on a pretty in-depth and fascinating conversation. I can’t talk about the conversation until I make some traction with or finish the essay. Just know it was a great conversation. Some very interesting items came up.


Angela gave today’s lecture. But she didn’t speak on anything a length, so much as she gave us a short primer on film essays, then showed us several. One of them reminded me of the book Reality Hunger by David Shields with its combination of images, found video, narration, and quotes flashing on the screen.

She told us yesterday that her husband is a filmmaker and one of the films she showed was his. She’s going to be getting into screenwriting to work with him. She’s really doing the damn thing.

Other (somewhat) good stuff ….

One of the dining hall employees and her mother have worked at the college since the time I was a student. The mother was there today and said she remembered me. She gave me a hug and caught up on how much things have changed at the college and in town.

She said that some of the sort of crime you see in suburbs has crept down here into St. Mary’s. I was dismayed to hear that. Back in the day, that was pretty unheard of. She said they’re building too much down here. All of the construction I saw the other day and even the stuff I saw earlier –even more developments in Hollywood– confirms just how much the place has grown. I’m not surprised that the issue that you find in those areas have migrated south. I just hope it doesn’t become too bad. Most of the biggest development seems to have taken place in the last 15 years and that’s a really short period of time for a place to grow and learn to take on some of the problems of bigger suburbs and cities.

Talked more O’s and Ravens with one of the student-staff members. He’s been at some classic O’s games and he knows quite a bit of O’s history, at 23. I feel so glad for the folks in his generation, now coming of age to have a winning Orioles team. When I was his age, the O’s were into a decline that wouldn’t end until I was well into my 30’s.

I’m also happy to meet and talk to fellow O’s and Ravens fans down here. I don’t know how it is during fall and spring class sessions, but way back when, the PG folks dominated that sort of talk. But, the Ravens were just getting started and baseball wasn’t that big among my social groups.

I’m still able to watch TV using my tablet across the Internet. Even though I’m “away” and concentrating on writing during the day, it’s good to have some part of my regular life available. That and talking to my S/O online really have helped.

My fellow participant who was urging me to Improv is from the area and has seen all the changes around the county, too. She was describing everything that’s different from her point of view. She’s in her early 20’s, so she was growing up around the time that I was just leaving the area, so she saw all the changes first hand, just like the lady at the dining hall. They agree about how much is different.

Weather Stuff

Weather Service had issued a Severe Thunderstorm Watch down here for the afternoon and evening hours. I kept watch on the Weather Channel app. Skies were really dark around the time that we got out of workshop. I went straight to the dining hall and sat on the patio balcony since I was there before the start of dinner. The storm blew over, thankfully. It did rain, but I don’t think it was anything like what areas north of here received.


Took a bunch today. Not uploading properly. I’m going to take a bunch more tomorrow. I’ll go off-campus and upload them and hopefully tomorrow night, the upload into the site will work. I may have to share them via Google Photos, even though I want to put them on this site.