It’s Tuesday after the 40th annual Norwescon, held in beautiful and scenic Seatac. While it’s fresh in my mind, I thought I’d jot down a few notes since there had been some interest in things I learned.
As part of Clarion West‘s on-going series of one-day workshops, I attended the one titled “Writing the Other” taught by Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward. Their book with the same name is the first one mentioned any time the subject of writing the other comes up. The book, I have since learned, came out of the class they’ve been teaching for the last decade.
I hit 50K on the very last night of National Novel Writing Month. I’d started November off on vacation and then got sick. So a very slow start and then very slow progress due to raw exhaustion. I didn’t see the doctor until the day before Thanksgiving and got antibiotics. So over the course of the last week of November I wrote over 25,000 words. After that I feel like someone’s been beating me in my sleep.
For this year’s NaNoWriMo, I relied entirely on the crude outline I created in the one-day workshop I did with Mark Teppo through Clarion West‘s one-day workshop in early October. For a lot of reasons, mostly involving the build-up to November (including World Fantasy Con and AmberCon Northwest back to back), I didn’t get a blog post about my experience with his workshop. Since the novel came out of the work I did in his workshop, and it’s a great chance to see how that worked for me, I figured it was best to combine those two posts.
This weekend I attended the first of Clarion West’s one day writing workshops. This first one was titled “Alive in the World” and focused on the interaction between character and setting. It was taught by Molly Gloss, who I hadn’t heard of before, but others in the class were familiar with her work. I think this more a sign of how spotty my SF/F reading experience often is. I felt like the class was pretty good. I offer up my thoughts for you on the subject.
Over Easter Weekend, I attended our local convention of geeky goodness: Norwescon. I had a much better time this year than last, due in large part to seeing people I know throughout the event. With all the workshops and writer events and conventions I’ve gone to, I’ve managed to connect with a lot of really awesome writerly types. So I had no lack of cool people to stop and chat with throughout the weekend.
Now, for the rest of the recap.
Through the workshop, the same criticisms came up over and over again. On a certain level, I wish I had known some of these things long in advance so that I could have done things differently. It would have been nice to have the basics tackled so that they could critique things on a deeper level.
On the other hand, I had the opportunity to read James Gunn’s The Science of Science Fiction Writing before I got there, but didn’t. I was just too stubborn. It’s one thing to have a person you don’t know and haven’t heard of to tell you that you’re doing something wrong. It’s another to have a dozen people all say you’re doing the same things wrong.
So this is what I got from the workshop in terms of things to remember when writing a short story. Many of these also seem to apply to a novel. Keep in mind this is what I came away with, and I may have gotten some of this wrong. If you want it straight from the source, pick up Mr. Gunn’s book. Also, this is what I’ve been taught, not necessarily what I believe. (Or, at least, I’m too stubborn to believe in.) But I’m giving it a shot to see if it improves my writing and my acceptance rate. If you’ve done his workshop or read his book, feel free to correct me.
I am back in Seattle, parked in front of a fan and enjoying the balmy 65 degree weather. It’s a beautiful change in pace from Kansas, where they had a heat index of 110 on some of my final days there. It was just muggy and awful. I’m glad we’d gotten milder weather for most of the early part of my stay. I’d never even heard of a heat index prior to this. Seattle is a civilized place that has no such things.
The workshop is, for all intents and purposes, over. Tonight is the awards banquet for the Campbell Conference, which then continues through the weekend.
It is the weekend, which the short story workshoppers have “off” and the novelists do not. I’m still playing catchup with reading and have to upload my short story revisions today. But otherwise it’s been a lazy day of doing laundry and looking for coffee. The local coffee stand is closed on the weekends and the cafeteria doesn’t open until 11 (“Brunch”).
Sorry for the lack of updates. Between spotty internet and the constant game of catchup with reading stuff to critique and taking naps to beat down exhaustion. I’d been trying to only do blog updates at night, but that doesn’t work so well.