Anyway, yesterday's workshop was with Rod Jones (here is his kindly but slightly crappily written Wikipedia entry). He's the author of lotsa books, including Night Pictures, Billy Sunday and Swan Bay. No writing exercises, but lots of interesting discussion about character, voice and -ahem - possible (yet of course utterly legitimate) uses of literary grants. Nuff said. He was extremely open and generous in talking about the relationship between life and fiction, revealing quite personal details about his life in order to talk about the (sometimes ambiguous) boundaries between 'life work' and writing.
Here are some of the things I wrote down while he was talking:
We write out of the part of ourselves we don't know
Write a page a day
Reflections. Ego. Self-consciousness - this rock doesn't need to write a novel
Writing is a business to do with the emotions
Writer's block is a form of depression
Writing as secret love affair, illicit, sexiness
'I wrote once upon a time and it felt like the universe was giving me a nudge.' (Lawrence Durrell, The Alexandra Quartet
Some of this stuff really touches on my feelings about writing as my 'job'. It's become a legitimate - rather than risky or illicit or naughty 'stolen moments' - activity. I've lost some of the love affair with words, and instead I keep getting distracted by the business of them.
There was an actual rock present, very engaged in not writing a novel.