Amy Bloom told her workshop on the first day that her Friday session would be cancelled because she had to leave early. Nothing was done to make up for that time and by the end of the week that had ceased to bother me since it was clear that Bloom didn't plan anything for the other classes anyway--she was only going to respond to questions. This struck me as both a little odd and a little lazy on her part. But the fact that she left early, and that the IUWC let her get away with that, I did find disturbing.
Was it a good Conference? Yes. There is room for improvement--the hall for the Faculty Readings was bad; the organizers didn't do a great job of getting information to the participants--but the faculty was impressive, and the craft sessions were (mostly) informative, and that's the heart of a Conference like this.
Was the Amy Bloom workshop good? It was definitely not the best I've participated in. I think Amy Bloom is a terrific writer, and it seems to me that that is all she cares about when it comes to the profession. Which is fine. If someone thinks she's disrespectful and abrupt, or aloof and arrogant--these are things that probably don't bother her. She likes to think of herself as honest, and no doubt that is true, but obviously one can be honest and still be respectful. She actually had mostly good things to say about my story and had two suggestions for it--one that I will certainly do and am sure will improve the story, and one that I'm still considering. But the overall workshop experience I found lacking, in comparison to other workshops. Except for one poorly-framed exercise (which I mentioned earlier), and for critique of the participants' stories, she seemed to be depending on our questions to fill the two hours each day. She established on the first day that there were some participants new to workshopping, and yet she offered no guidance for what was expected. Again, none of this has anything to do with her writing skills. Do I recommend taking a workshop with her? No. To be honest.
Since the session for today was cancelled, I was able to get out of town early and head home--a nine hour drive during which I listened to the second half of Michael Crichton's Prey. Please. What a piece of junk that is. Don't bother.
Last words on the conference: I met lots of very nice people, whom I won't name here for fear of leaving someone out. But to all of you, thanks for a fun week!