Writing on the Edge … of the San Andreas Fault

Wow! Here I am at this amazing writing residency at the Mesa Refuge, which is a LOVELY facility perched directly on the edge of the San Andreas rift zone.

(Actually, I’m in the local public library using their wifi; there’s no Internet or phone at Mesa … they want you to concentrate on the writing there, with no distractions.)

How to summarize this remarkable experience so far? I’m sharing a spacious, very well-appointed house with two other writers — Andrea Godshalk, from Amherst, who’s writing about urban farming, and Tram Nguyen, the former editor of Colorlines Magazine, who’s developing a book about immigration and its connection to a variety of hot-button issues.

They are both tremendously fabulous individuals, and I am honored to call them colleagues. They’ve already taught me so much about their topics of interest, and my own writing endeavor. I hope I can offer them the same.

We each have private writing suites, and the place is packed with books, writing supplies, comfy couches and excellent food.

And it is truly a GORGEOUS setting. The house looks out over Tomales Bay and its broad tidelands, with a seaward ridge riding opposite. The fog and sun interact to spectacular effect, the hawks float about on currents of air, hummingbirds dart everywhere, and the place is exploding with flowers.

I don’t mean to lay it on too thick, but, a writer can feel truly valued and validated here.

My work here is focused on public media, and its iterations in the Internet era. There are several documents I’m working on, including an essay I hope to sell to someplace fancy like Harper’s, as well as a “final report” on the May 3 Innovations in Journalism Expo (which was a big success, BTW).

I also updated an essay I wrote (“Arts, Culture & the Crisis of Democracy”) for a grant proposal to the Haas fund for Independent Arts & Media’s arts program. We got the grant, but the essay is strong and deserves wider circulation. It’ll be appearing on the new Indy Arts Web site (thanks, Bosco!), so stay tuned for that.

I also hope to get some work done on two short stories.

One, as-yet untitled, is being written for an anthology to be published by Marina and Jason of fave SF guitar band The Rabbles, on the topic of the twice-as-big-as-Texas mass of plastic floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The story is turning out to be a bit macabre. It was originally going to be about a guy who starts collecting plastic trash on the street, in an attempt to get it out of the ecosystem and waste stream. I then realized that the petroleum byproduct accumulating in his basement was going to consume him and destroy him, as it will our own green-blue orb, someday.

The other story is very sad, about a scientist who, in an effort to create a nanotech mechanism for facilitating flower pollination after the rampant spread of the bee-killing Colony Collapse Disorder, winds up accidentally creating something much worse. It is entitled “Morte Verde,” and takes place in Brazil in the near future.

It is a thrill and a privilege to be a part of the Mesa program, and a thrill and a privilege to be alive and kickin’ on this Earth of ours.

Let’s make the most of it, and leave things better off for those who come after us!

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