Jul 29, 2004

The Odyssey Writing Workshop

Back to reality. As I write this--long hand--I'm flying back to California after attending a six-week workshop devoted to genre writing. "Why long hand?" you may wonder. Well, I've become pretty handy at it after writing two to three critiques per day! Using the school's printers turned out to be more of a hassle than it was worth (I'm a night person), and I was doing line edits anyway, so I practiced my handwriting. It's nearly illegible. At least I can read it to type it up.

The Odyssey Writing Workshop completely exceeded my expectations, which were high to begin with. Admittedly, when I received the acceptance letter, I had some momentary doubts, wondering if they let just anyone in. But it turned out that all sixteen students were the sort of experienced, determined, talented writers that you rarely (if ever) find in online critique groups open to the public. Everyone had useful insights, and it was interesting to be able to talk with each author in person, and learn from their critiques of each other. The workshop teacher, Jeanne Cavelos, comes from a professional editing background and has a skill for adapting her advice to each writer's needs. I'm grateful that she was able to offer me fresh ideas and new angles on the novel series I've been writing and rewriting for years.

The guest lecturers and writer-in-residence (George R.R. Martin) added their personal experiences in the publishing industry, and plenty of interesting anecdotes and advice about writing. Looking back at my notes, I see that I've covered 8 pages from G.R.R. Martin alone. And, of course, some of the best things about the workshop included networking with other hopeful writers, and the pleasure of focusing solely on genre writing for six weeks. I've come out of this workshop with a new feeling of confidence. I believe that I've improved as a writer, and I also have a clearer view of the publishing industry, so my old reservations about submitting to major magazines and agents are gone. I'm eager to see if I can make pro sales and win awards!

Odyssey 2004 class photo
My writing plans now consist of a lot of revising. I want to revise all of my unsold short stories, including novels and screenplays, and submit them to my top choice publishers. That will be an immense task . . . but you know I'm shamelessly crazy about writing, so I'll give it a try. And yes, I also plan to write new stories. I'll fit that in somewhere. Oh, and yes, I'm going to keep reading books and participating in my critique group. I'm back on my hectic my-computer-takes-up-my-entire-life schedule.

Two of my short stories were published while I was at Odyssey. The Blur can be read in Twilight Times, and Sunrise (longer yet sexier) is available in this month's Cyberpulp e-book/PoD anthology. This is my first story in print!

Novel status:

The Illusionist was rejected from Mundania Press in a polite and timely manner. Thanks to an insightful critique from Dave Fallon of DargonZine, and other test readers, and the Odyssey Workshop, I'm really seeing that this novel has problems. I may retire it until I have time for a major rewrite.

I heard through the writer grapevine that Baen Books lost everything in their electronic slush pile a month ago. If this is the case, they didn't notify the authors, and you can imagine my frustration. My novel Yeresunsa Book 1 was there exclusively since February 2004. Maybe (hopefully) it's still there. I've considered resubmitting it to them, but after Odyssey, I've oscillated back to my original ambition of querying literary agents. There are a few major ones I haven't tried yet. I still have a lot of faith that this book has major sales potential. Test readers have responded extremely well, and I'm going to revise it ASAP to get a better reaction. Now I just have to manage not to freeze up when it comes to querying agents. The problem is that I'm really proud of this book, attached to it in a way that I don't feel for my shorter works, so I'm paranoid that I'll ruin its chances with a bad query letter or synopsis.

Wrap up:

This is where I usually launch into short reviews of the most recent books I've read and movies I've seen. I'm too tired! I hope everyone is having a good summer. Best of luck to you all with your writing, artwork, or whatever your passions may be.

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