Deer in the Headlights

by wjw on July 1, 2017

Taos Toolbox is done.  Over the course of two weeks Nancy and I delivered 18 lectures, read and critiqued 280,000 words of fiction, wrangled three superbly informative guest speakers, and drank lots and lots of coffee.

I’m now at home, staring blankly at the walls while listening to a strange, high-pitched ringing in my ears.

We had 18 very talented new writers who were, as a group, very impressive in critique, had a an incredibly strong work ethic, and spent a lot of their free time working on one another’s novels in plotbreaking sessions, both at night and at Weird O’clock AM, when I was happily asleep.

We’ll be hearing from these guys, I’m sure.

The final night we had our traditional farewell dinner at Lambert’s in Taos, and I felt free to break my usual custom in order to enjoy (1) cocktails, and (2) dessert.

Driving back to Angel Fire at night through Taos Canyon was, as always, great fun in the WRX, the all-wheel-drive and turbocharged boxer engine powering over the twisty two-lane blacktop and through the hairpins.  Until, of course, danger reared its hornèd head.

I saw one large mule deer crossing the road well ahead of me, and since I know deer usually hang together, I was on the lookout for more ruminants when another large deer stepped onto the road and commenced ruminating right in front of me.  My choices were three:

1. I could swerve right, off the road and the cliff beyond— result FLAMING DEATH.

2.  I could swerve left, and have the deer spring in front of me, causing a high-speed collision— result FLAMING DEATH.

3.  Or I could just slam on the middle pedal and find out what those Subaru ABS brakes could do.  If there was going to be a collision, it would at least be at a lower speed.

The car stopped less than a foot from the deer, which favored me with an honest-to-god deer-in-the-headlights look before springing off unharmed into the night.

Handsome animal, but not very bright.

Except for a few bugs splashed on the windshield, there were no more encounters with wildlife on the return to the lodge.  Nancy staggered to bed, and I began packing up all the office supplies for transport to the Williams ranchero.

I’d like to thank Nancy Kress for all her incredibly hard work, as well as special guests EM Tippetts, Steve Gould, and George RR Martin for taking time out of their busy lives to talk to us.

Here are the last few critique quotes, duly recorded by Nancy.

* “I want to see what happens when the werewolf crashes Swan Lake.”

* “Most of the time when people in fiction say, ‘I love you,’ it’s false.”
* She needs to be busy writhing on the floor.”
* “Why is the child so unaffected after putting the mangled remains of his mother into a machine to turn her into a robot?”
* “This story is an outline for a better story you can write later.”
“Nobody fixed the elevator–did it go on chopping up people?”
* “My inner twelve-year-old responded with giggles to ‘Let me be the first to flash the squid,’ followed by ‘Let’s take turns with the glow stick.'”
“More cephalopods!”

* “I imagined the poor dragon’s response to people wearing his mother.”
* “I like that you can kill an evil elf with just a good whack from a coal shovel.”
* “I like what I learned about road repair.”
* “Why is he hiding honey in his hat?”
* “Her grandmother crashed a freighter into the moon — and that wasn’t over the top enough for you?”
* “Does ‘an extravagant body’ mean purple hair and five arms?”
* “I think I actually loved the story, but I’m not sure if the story I loved is the story you’re telling.”
* “More tentacles!”

* “I don’t want to see any eyeballs in appliances.”
* “You have awesome imagery, but I would like to see a plot.”
* “An incubus pregnancy doesn’t have to follow the rules.”
* “”You give really good shitstorm.”
* “I had a problem with the creepy demon child.”
* “There were a few sentences that got their shoelaces tied together and toppled over.”
* “Ghosts don’t drive yellow Saabs!”

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