Complete physical, emotional, and sensory overload. There are some experiences that even writers cannot communicate, that can only be lived through, and carefully preserved in the sepia-toned vaults of memory. I could try to relate to you the experience of nine days in Scotland with six other writers at our annual Dargon Writers’ Summit. I might relate all the sights we saw and things we did, and with skillful wordcraft I might paint a picture that moves you. But it’d still be like showing you a fossil and trying to communicate the fragile image of a dragonfly.
What was it? It was the archetypal whirlwind tour, a thousand-mile circumnavigation of the country. It was a misty morning on a loch, framed by half-obscured woodland hills. It was a lush, fertile green river valley dotted with the ruins of stone farmhouses, set between implausibly steep mountains, their shoulders adorned with the vivid yellow of gorse. It was the self-righteous sting of Scotch whisky on your lips, and the magical lightness of an owl landing on your forearm. It was standing before the ruins of an abandoned castle, the wind and spray raging against a nearby seaside cliff, a blood-red full moon overhead. It was the tenuousness of our grasp on the Earth as we foolishly ascended into the sky in answer to the irresistible call of an unscalable mountain. It was the quiet tranquility of a burial cairn centuries older than human remembering.
One of the things that fantasy evokes in people is a sense of wonder, of amazement at the beauty of the worlds we describe. Every so often, we can connect with that wonder when we find some particularly evocative place here on Earth: a granite fells, a rocky ocean headland, or a pine-laden mountaintop. The handful of Dargon writers who came to Scotland got to live that wonder for nine days running.
And what’s best of all is that we were able to share the experience of that beauty and wonder with one another. As writers, our goal is to communicate to others the things that move us. For each of us, Scotland was profoundly moving, and we were finally able to share those wondrous moments with others who felt the same appreciation. That sharing brought us very much closer together, reinforcing our working relationships with a deeper, more personal connection.
As you may know, each year a different writer hosts our annual Dargon Writers’ Summit, where we get together to talk about writing, do some project business, see the local sights, and build closer friendships with one another. I can speak for all the Summit attendees when I express our most heartfelt thanks and admiration to Stuart Whitby, who ran this year’s Summit. Stuart was a thoughtful, patient, and entertaining host. Running a normal Dargon Summit, which have previously lasted only two or three days, is an immense undertaking; tirelessly driving us around the country for nine whole days, lining up lodging and meals and activities, and keeping things going smoothly throughout was surely a trial that proved Stuart’s good-naturedness to all. Hearty cheers to Stu for an amazing, profoundly moving, and exhilarating Summit.
Rather than waste words and your attention in trying to describe such an immense trip in detail, I’ll instead refer you to the photographs and write-up that appear on our Web site. Debriefs from Scotland and all our previous Summits can be found on our Writers’ Summit page, at <http://www.dargonzine.org/summit.shtml>.
Because of the logistics involved in the Summit, this month’s issue was, as advertised, a little delayed. We hope to get back on a regular publishing schedule now that everyone’s home and settled, and the jet lag has worn off!
In this issue we begin an excellent new four-part story from P. Atchley, and we conclude Nick Wansbutter’s two-part “A Matter of Faith”. These two will be featured in the following two issues, as well, “Malice” being paired with another two-part story that Nick has in the works. I hope you enjoy them, and I hope your summer brings you the kind of wonder and adventure that we were fortunate enough to experience at this year’s Summit!