Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Tick Tock Men

As I mentioned on Friday, this last weekend I attended a writers' retreat at Naulakha, Rudyard Kipling's house in Dummerston, Vermont, where he lived for four years in the 1890s. The host for the thing was Bill Willingham, and the attending writers included all of the members of Clockwork Storybook (along with Bill Williams, publisher of Lone Star Press). If you haven't heard of CWSB, you're not alone, but the short version is that it began life as a writers' group, meeting weekly and critiquing each others stuff, then morphed into an online magazine (with all the stories taking place in the same shared world, the fictional city of San Cibola), then mutated into a publishing concern, which published novels and story collections by the four of us (including Any Time At All, which was the shorter version of Here, There & Everywhere, and the original and shorter version of Set the Seas on Fire).

The four of us--Bill, Mark Finn, Matt Sturges, and me--hadn't been in the same room together since early 2002, over five years ago. Quite a lot of water has flowed beneath countless bridges since then, and one of the pleasant discoveries of the weekend was that time cures all sorts of wounds. That, and the fact that the others are much, much better cooks than I remember.

Here's a view of Naulakha, which Kipling called a "ship." It's easy to see why, since the house is really, really long and incredibly narrow. And the well-worn, time-polished wood of the floors and banisters creaks reassuringly like a ship under sail, too.

We spent the weekend doing what we used to do when we got together. We wrote, we read aloud, we critiqued each other's work, and we talked, and talked, and talked about movies, comics, books, tv--only the really important stuff. The years have been kind to everyone's talents, and I think we're all much, much better writers than we were back in the old days.

Here's all of us, goofing around years ago.

And here we all now, just like old times. From left to right its Mark Finn, me, Matt Sturges, and Bill Willingham.

There was some talk of finding some of the shared world stuff we did, knocking loose the mothballs, and making it available somehow or other. Watch this space for details.

Heh, a neat little reunion, eh? Well, I do hope you guys make a public version of CWSB in one form or another -- there's a LOT of good stuff in there that so many people never got a chance to experience!
Thanks, Radek. We'll see what we can do!
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