I enjoyed Capclave. I wasn’t staying at the hotel, so I didn’t partake of the party scene, but the two panels I was on went well, and the ones I attended were consistently interesting. The highlight for me was Stan Robinson’s lecture on time and the novel Friday evening. I was struck by how much smarter his conclusions and insights were than the rather unimaginative panel I moderated at James River Writers Conference in which the panelists clung to the notion that there was a right pace for a novel, and once you found it you hit cruise control and away you go. Stan argued for a much more sophisticated view that encourages a more symphonic variation in pace. His comments helped me see some of the pacing problems in a manuscript I’m working on and has given me ideas for revision—always a good thing. I also heard James Morrow read a bit from his novel in progress, an homage to Frankenstein. Naturally I was interested having just written my own satiric but affectionate homage in The Bright Spot. We shared panelist duties after his reading, so I got to meet him and talk briefly, a very nice man. I’ve always liked his work. In general, the programming was a little chaotic—no moderators specified, everyone pretty much plugged in last minute—but with folks like Michael Dirda and Paul Park on the panels, they still managed to be consistently interesting, if not always on the stated topic. I’ll most likely be back. Next year the GOH will be friend Jeffrey Ford, and I definitely don’t want to miss that.

Outside of the con, Sarah and I visited the National Zoo pandas early Saturday morning and pretty much had them to ourselves except for a couple of photographers with lenses the size of sewer pipes. Saturday night we had dinner with old friend Denny Dobbin who had graciously let us stay at his place.