First Day of Camp


It’s that dream again, the one where you’re 11 years and it’s the first day of summer camp. Only you’re actually 53, checking in for the Port Townsend Writers Conference.

But it doesn’t matter: you don’t know anyone and you’re dragging your duffel across the lawn, trying to figure out where your bunk is, trying to look like you fit in. And you’re not sure you do fit in. Or if you should even try to. Honestly, the more you look around, the less sure you are that this was even a good idea.

You can already suss out the cliques: the cool kids, the rock stars, the rebels. Closest thing to “your” gang is the clutch of awkward kids huddled by the picnic tables, heads on geeky swivel and chattering about Isn’t this place awesome?

Suck it up, man: that is your gang; you’re one of them, whether you like it or not.

And why not? You’ve tried hanging out with the cool kids – they gave you a quick look over and went back to comparing their latest residencies, and where was Henry teaching this year, and did you see his piece in Glimmer Train? Might as well have been discussing semi-finals at the yak polo tournament – there was nothing there you could understand, let alone hope to contribute to the conversation.

And the rock stars? Don’t even go there – you’ve tried drifting into their circle of groupies, eavesdropping on the sermon. You remembered being at the center of a circle and pontificating like that yourself in the past, and cringed a bit.

So the awkward geeks it is. Besides, this is no place to be pretentious. This is a place for you to sit down and tuck into your work for a week. Just write. Write, write, write. Like everybody else here.

Besides, you’re in Port Townsend, and it’s summer, and it feels like the most beautiful place on the planet right now. A few pics from my morning run:






6 responses to “First Day of Camp

  1. Good luck at summer writing camp. It looks beautiful. I have fond memories of camp as well, of course, we had no computers and cell phones. Just pens and lined writing tablets to send letters to your parents to ask for food and money Enjoy Bob

    Sent from my iPhone Bob Vogel Professor Emeritus Department of Education La Salle University 215-806-1433


  2. I admire your dedication to writing. I’ve heard of the PT writers workshop. I’ve always wanted to participate in such a thing and hope you get lots done. By the way I really enjoy your blog even though I don’t always comment. Thanks for keeping me in the loop!


  3. Knowing the other draws that Port Thompson offers, I suspected what would happen. And it did. Actually, from the perspective of the “outsider” tribe you are in a great position to observe things that the rock stars and the cool kids are too busy and too self-absorbed to see. Maybe when you’ve watched and digested you will get a “Lucky Jim” or a “Pictures from an Institution” out of it. I get the same sense that writer camp is the sort of place where angst is inversely proportional to accomplishment. Move on.

    Meanwhile back to the Pole. From the Polie story fragments and the novella, so far, I am reminded of the stories by Heinlein, Sheckley and others that I used to read in Galaxy Science Fiction’s monthly issues back in high school. Everything possible in plot, somewhat formulaic in the human interactions, more of less what would be expected of a bunch of guys (the ’50s, remember) stuck in a space station or an intergalactic freighter. But the plot possibilities are incredible. Remember the smags, firgels and queels? Find some more stories and share them all, with Medium replacing Galaxy. I’ll be waiting to read them.


    Liked by 1 person

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