My favorite song is Astronomy. (Yeah, Blue Oyster Cult.) According to Wikipedia, it’s based on a poem by the band’s manager, Sandy Pearlman, called “The Soft Doctrines of Imaginos.” I first heard it (that I know of) in 1988 or ‘89 on the Imaginos album. That version had a different singer. I’ve heard that Joe Satriani worked the mixing board and ran errands for the band, so he probably played on the album somewhere. Anyhow, the song talks about the Four Winds Bar, and for some reason (probably because the song is so obviously a song about high fantasy) the Four Winds Bar always reminds me of the Inklings, a literary group that met at The Eagle and Child public house at the University of Oxford in England after World War II. Readings for the Inklings included C. S. Lewis’ Out of the Silent Planet and J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Apparently their criticism of one another was sometimes harsh, but you can’t fault the resulting material.
So when I decided I wanted a literary group of my own, I thought about that song Astronomy, and about the bar affectionately known as the Bird, and old Clive Staples and John Ronald Reuel sitting around over beers saying, “you do one about space, and I’ll do one about time, and we’ll see what happens,” and then I thought that the Four Winds Bar was a pretty good idea, and I like the idea of a woodshed ‘cause that’s where you go to get schooled. So that’s the name of the group. You have to have a finished novel to join in.
A few notes on the rules:
1) Copyright Law is strictly enforced.
2) The purpose of the Four Winds Workshop is publication. That is, we help one another get published.
3) We foster a community of support.
4) We engage in “open communication with an assumption of positive intent.” This requires work on both sides; when we review the work of others, it is with the purpose of learning and of teaching, and when we hear the reviews made by others, we understand that their words have merit, because they are telling us something that took them out of (or brought them into) our story.
5) If you say you’re going to do something you have to follow through. We all yearn to have our work read by another, so if you agree to read it, you have to read it. As unpublished writers (so far!) deadlines and promises are sometimes all we have!
If you are interested in joining the Four Winds Woodshed, please leave me a comment so that I can get in touch with you.