I am in scenic Lawrence, Kansas, for the Science Fiction Writers Workshop put on by the Center for the Study of Science Fiction. This is primarily a workshop for short stories. James Gunn leads the workshop. There is a concurrent workshop being run for SF novelists run by Kij Johnson. Because I’m not well versed in SF lore, I had not heard of either of these people. But as their Wikipedia articles illustrate, they’re kind of a big deal.
Because a few friends have been curious about the experience, I’m blogging about it. Today mostly consisted of just getting here.
I got up at 3:30ish this morning to get ready to depart for a 7:15 flight out of Seattle. Two hours later I touched down in Denver for a two-and-a-half hour layover. That place was broiling and filled with a disproportionate number of high school girls in short shorts that all seemed to be on their way home from some volleyball tournament in Reno. (It was a little surreal. It’s like the scene in Twin Peaks with all the sailors bouncing rubber balls.) The airport was also broiling. The flight to Kansas City was a little more than an hour.
My partner’s sister and brother-in-law live out in Kansas City were kind enough to drive me out to Lawrence from there. En route I had the chance to try some of the legendary Kansas City BBQ at The Smokehouse. I deemed it to be “quite yummy.”
Beyond that tonight has just been the pre-workshop meet and greet. I always do poorly in social situations like this because I’m pretty uncomfortable around strangers. But several of the workshoppers were friendly and sought me out to learn more about me. I feel fortunate that other people were able to work around my social awkwardness for me.
There was pizza. There was a birthday/book launch cake for Chris McKitterick. We had a big circle of introductions from both the short story and novel workshoppers. (Two people attending were doing both.) James Gunn shared a lot of anecdotes. It was a little surreal to hear someone casually talk about conversations he had with Frederick Pohl and John Campbell in the 1950s.
Mr. Gunn voiced some thoughts on what it takes to make a story stand out of the slush pile. They sound nice in a broad stroke sort of way, but I feel like I don’t quite know how to apply what he’s talking about. That, I guess, is what the next two weeks are for.
I’m hoping to get a lot of stuff done in these two weeks, to see how I do as a “full time writer.” But right now I’m so exhausted I just want to go to bed.
Wifi is not what I hoped it would be, so I’m hanging out in the lobby of the dorm building. There’s a high school debate camp also in the dormitories we’re using, which is causing me to have flash backs to my own days in the National Forensics League.