Insecure Writer’s Support Group: The Workshop Blues…

August 7, 2014

Hey, guess I got kicked out of IWSG again for missing two months in a row, but I’m back. And boy am I insecure! 😉

Sign – when is revision ever enough? I just got back from the ‘Never-Ending Odyssey’ workshop in New Hampshire, and it was a great week of critique circles and hanging out with writers and that kinda stuff. But I also came to realize that I’ve got a LOT of work still to do on this novel I was workshopping, “Think of the Children”, which is a little disappointing after the months and months of work I’ve already put into the current draft. A fresh perspective from reader-writers is what I go to workshops for, but it was depressing to realize that the book still isn’t putting its best face out there and it just isn’t as ready as I thought it was.

At the same time, I think I’m kinduv excited about what I’ve learned, about how to get to the essential conflict in the story and let that shine. So, first step, is to put what I’ve learned into a new revision outline. I can get that finished in August, right? I hope so, because it’s on my goals list, along with a few other things…

What’s up with you? Are you feeling insecure this week? Share your thoughts with all of us.

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Workshops

April 27, 2011

W is for…

I’ve had writing workshops very much on my mind lately, and it occurs to me that there’s a remarkable variety in terms of different events and organizations that use that phrase to describe themselves. For instance:

Odyssey, the workshop that I’ve been waiting to see if I’ll get into. I got word two weeks ago that I was on the short waiting list, and that spots would most likely open up around the end of April, though there might be a last-minute drop-out as late as May 25th.

Odyssey is a six-week session with about sixteen participants, lectures, one-on-one consultations with the instructure, guest lecturers, and intense but constructive critique circle sessions between the participants. It’s held in Saint Anselm College, in Manchester, New Hampshire, with all participants living in residence.

I’m not really sure what to expect if I get into Odyssey, but the odd thought flashed through my head as I was listening to ‘Starship troopers’ on my audiobook player that it would likely be a writer’s version of ‘Boot Camp’ – intellectually and emotionally exhausting, but an experience that, if you got through it without cracking, would make you forever a stronger person inside and a much better writer.

Wish me luck on the waiting list thing, by the way!

While I was waiting to hear about Odyssey, I got good news in my email inbox about a completely different writing workshop. Lindsey Grant posted over at the Office of Letters and Light blog asking for suggestions about ‘revision tools’ to help National Novel Writing Month writers work on editing their stories through the year. I was really excited about the call for suggestions, since I felt I had a bit of experience with what worked and what didn’t over at places like Nanoedmo, Nanopubye, and Stringing Words, and so I put together four suggestions and posted them without even really paying attention to the prizes that Lindsey had waved to try and encourage feedback.

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Getting Published… what’s the next step?

December 18, 2010

It’s been a little while since I’ve really been focusing on the idea of getting published – I joined up with NaNoPubYe a few weeks ago, but haven’t really done anything over there. But it’s been nagging me that I should be getting back to this, and I’ve been wondering about what the next step should be.

Writing? No – I’ve really got enough interesting projects written that I don’t particularly need to start a new one.

Editing or revising? Perhaps, but I’m not really sure what directions I need to take.

So getting critiques, both on novella-length drafts and shorter stories, seems to be a good place to start. The critiques that I’ve been working on getting for Workshop portfolios could actually help me sell those short stories as well, and I want to be posting ‘Won’t somebody think of the children?’ for Novel swaps by the end of the month. And come to think of it, I do still have a critique for ‘The Long Way Home’ that I haven’t really looked at in detail yet – it never seems to be time to read through it.

Like somebody said, there never seems to be enough time, energy, and focus in my life.


Blogosphere Monday: Quick Brown Fox

December 13, 2010

I’ve gone to three of Brian Henry’s Saturday workshops in the Hamilton area over the past seven months or so – in fact, it was the first of them which actually prompted me to start a writing blog of my own, and share this crazy creative journey that I’m on with the entire blogosphere.

So, this week, I’m happy to spotlight Brian’s blog: Quick Brown Fox It’s full of excerpts and news from all kinds of writers that have been through his courses and workshops, opportunities to submit your work, places to go to find an agent, local writers groups… and it’s a great place to watch for Brian coming to your town if you’re living in Ontario of course.

Myself, I’m already looking forward to heading out to Saint Catherines in the middle of January to learn about “Writing Dialog.”


Workshop Portfolios

December 8, 2010

I’ve only mentioned it here in passing, but I’m seriously planning to get to a six-week genre writing workshop for the summer of 2011. I’ve researched three of them: Clarion, Clarion West, and Odyssey, and I’ve gotten approval to take some unpaid sabbatical time in addition to my paid vacation if I’m accepted to one of them.

That’s getting to be the crucial point. The window for applications to Clarion opened on December 1st, just as I was recovering from Nanowrimo and getting myself back onto Eastern Standard Time. Deadline for applications to Clarion and Clarion West are both on March 1st, 2011

However, what I’m confident in submitting for my portfolio is starting to become a little clearer.

For a while, I guess I was confused by the different requirements for portfolios to all 3 workshops. But taking a good hard look at them, some of the complications prove to be meaningless for me:

Clarion wants 2 different short stories, between 2500-6000 words each.

Clarion West doesn’t mention word counts at all, but wants from 20-30 pages of work sample in manuscript format, which looks like it would be around 4500-6800 words.

Odyssey wants a sample of no more than 4000 words. Clarion West and Odyssey both suggest that a complete story would be good if possible, but don’t insist on it.

And in reviewing my available stories, I sidelined three of them pretty quickly. “The artifact” is still very rough, which is understandable considering that I conceived it and wrote it in five days in an unfamiliar city. Which is what I’ll have to be doing over and over again for these workshops, apparently, but I don’t necessarily need to pick a story for my portfolio on that basis.

“Wolves of Wyoming” and “The case of the Wizard’s vice” are in better shape, but I’m not that confident about either of them considering that they’d have a strike anywhere I’d be submitting them. They’re fantasy, and though Clarion and Clarion West don’t rule out including other fiction genres in the portfolio, (Clarion West even makes a point of saying that in their FAQ,) they ARE specifically Science Fiction workshops. And both stories are around 5,000 words, so I’d need to trim them down for Odyssey.

That leaves me with ‘Harry and Mars’, ‘The Landing’, and ‘Exploration and Evaluation.’ I do like ‘Harry’, though it got a somewhat mixed response at Hamilton Writers last night… it’s short enough that I can expand the characterization somewhat (which it badly needs,) and still fit the Odyssey word count. The new draft of ‘The Landing’ was received very well by Hamilton Writers when I brought it back to them in September, and it should fit in the middle of the page count guidelines for Clarion West. Once I’m comfortable with them, I can submit them both for Clarion. ‘Exploration and Evaluation’ is less strong overall, but can stand as an alternate just in case I see some flaw in one of the other stories that I can’t fix at the last moment.

One thing that I’m considering trying with ‘Harry and Mars’ would be a significant change that might make the word count explode, but I think that it’s still worth a try. As written, the first draft concerns a suicide on the first successful mission to Mars, and that was probably part of the original idea that I had when I started writing it back in September.

Somebody at the meeting mentioned “One problem I have is that it’s not that sudden, when you decide that you’re going to kill yourself,” and it sounded like he knew at least a little of what he was talking about. That got me to thinking, what if the first suicide attempt wasn’t successful, if they get to Harry in time to save her life – then what? Can they really keep one member of a five-person crew on suicide watch? With that change, I was also considering changing my POV from Harry herself to Charlie, the engineer, who could be the one who saves her.

Okay, I think that that’s enough blog rambling for tonight. Wish me luck with all my portfolio stuff, everybody!

UPDATE: I’d also like to announce to anybody who cares, that I expect this blog will remain proudly snow-free for the holiday season. The Weather Network is telling me that I’ll be getting enough of the stuff outside over the next few weeks, so I don’t intend to let snow into my cyber-world!


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