>UTV Days 3 and 4

>The workshop proper began on Sunday afternoon when we met to discuss three stories, including my submission which is the opening of my rough draft novel. It was a terrific discussion and I really like Chuck Wachtel’s approach, which is very similar to both Charlie Baxter’s and Mac McIlvoy’s–all three of them have taught at Warren Wilson’s low-residency MFA program and that may have something to do with it. We first looked at describing what is at the core of the piece, what it is trying to do and what tools the author employs, and only then looking at what, in revision, might be done to more effectively bring the core elements to the surface.

Before workshop began I walked into town and strolled through the weekend market, which is a hodgepodge of crafts and regular market fare. (A couple of us stopped for quesadillas in the market, which was fun.) After workshop, we went to Annabella’s home for a South African wine tasting provided by Annette, another South African in our group who happens to work for a wine distributor in Cape Town. This was fantastic, with great wines, great bread and great cheeses.

This morning was another workshop day, with three more stories. From now on we’re doing only 2 a day, so that will be easier. I then walked back to Las Golondrinas–a 40 minute walk–and have been doing reading for workshop since then. Tonight we went to a beautiful hacienda near the village of Amatlan. The property is owned by an American woman and it is spectacular, although that wasn’t the only reason for being there. A Canadian art historian was using the space (in the estate’s private chapel) to give a fabulous talk on iconic images of women in Mexican art, including the pictures of Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz, the Virgin of Guadalupe, and Frida Kahlo, that have all been appropriated by popular culture. It was fascinating.

Afterwards we took a break from Mexican food and ate pasta at a Swiss restaurant in Tepoztlan: La Differencia.

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