Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Writers Retreat: Tijuana Edition

Latino's Bar, Tijuana

My friend Albert William and I had our first official “Writer’s Retreat” in Astoria, OR in June of 2012. During that epic weekend-long exchange, I finished 4 short stories and wrote for about 6-8 hours a day. In the evenings, we workshopped ideas and issues and drank at every bar in town.

Four years later in 2016 we returned in March after each having read our completed debut novels as homework. Instead of writing for hours, we spent the entire weekend discussing each other’s novels. What worked, what didn’t? It was an amazingly productive weekend that had me completely rethinking my novel in the best way.

In 2017, we met in Tijuana, Mexico, where Albert William lives. I had always wanted to come visit him on his home turf, but the opportunity did not arise until October 2017. After a conference in San Diego, I spent an entire weekend in Tijuana exploring the city and discussing our current literary works. 

fries at Lico Bar

The thing about TJ though…is that there is a lot more partying and drinking to do than in sleepy Astoria, Oregon. So we didn’t exactly get around to talking shop until my last night there, after an intense night of drinking until 6:00am following by a day of me reliving the night in my journal.  

By evening, Albert William and I were at Lico Bar, one of his favorites for drinks and cheese fries, where he spent an hour and a half talking me through his screenplay – about the time it would have taken me to watch the movie had it been produced. Unfortunately it was a horror plot and got me really scared, which I guess is the point. 

After our first few drinks and snacks we moved on to Verde Y Crema and I workshopped the plot summary of my new novel with him in front of a plate of Korean tacos and mezcal. The idea had come to me while I was jogging on one sunny afternoon several months ago, and I had already begun putting some pieces together. Albert William was the first person I told and it felt great to finally say the plot out loud and wrap my head around it.

The night ended, of course, at Dandy del Sur, the oldest bar in Tijuana, with a conversation that had nothing to do with out novels and every thing to do with our lives.

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