Reflections on my first Writer’s Convention

ac295-11jan13003I just got back from my first convention for writers. It was Context 26 in Worthington, OH, just north of Columbus. The Con is supposed to be focused on science fiction writing, but there was just as much fantasy content, which was fine. It’s a relatively small Con, but they have a reputation for getting some fairly renowned authors and artists to attend. This year it was Jack McDevitt, Mike Resnick, Elizabeth Bear and Scott Lynch. All novelists that I’d at least heard of, if not read. I’m actually a huge fan of Scott Lynch, and he was funny and warm.

It’s a tricky thing being an unpublished novelist attending one of these things. As a writer you want to meet other writers as a peer, but you really feel like a pretender. A fan pretending to be a writer, just so you can get close to them and talk about what you loved about their writing, instead of just being a normal person. Of course, writers love to talk about writing, especially what they’re working on. The whole enterprise now is so focused on marketing yourself that it has really taken over the lives of some writers. This can make for some awkward conversations. How do you get past all of that, and have an actual conversation with your “peer?” Can we ever bridge the gap from fan to peer once we’ve met them as a fan? Alcohol helps a lot apparently. Continue reading “Reflections on my first Writer’s Convention”

Reflections on Residency One

 

Last week I was at Seton Hill University for my first week of Residency for my Master of Fine Arts in Writing Popular Fiction.  Thanks to my classmate Jenni Spoon for letting my use this picture she took last week. Check out her blog!

 

I spent the weeks prior getting ready by reading a book that was assigned and doing critiques of ten other writer’s work. I also prepared and sent in a ten-page piece to be critiqued.  I thought I was going to do my thesis on the work I had already done for Revelation Void, and that was what I edited for submission, but I’d been working on a new piece and during the course of the first few days I realized that piece was going to work out a lot better for me.

 

I have Clear Ether out to be critiqued, but I realize now that it is far from being ready for submission.  It’s going to require a major overhaul to be in any kind of shape that I would be satisfied with.  So Clear Ether is going on the shelf for a bit, along with Revelation Void.  I’m cool with it. I have some good ideas to explore for both of these books, but I am switching my focus to my new story.  I have just over 15k words so far, but they need to be polished.  I am going about this novel in a completely new way for me.  I’m actually outlining it first.  I actually know how it ends already.  I’m also trying something new with the type of story. It is firmly grounded in SF, but this one will be a mystery. The working title is Requiem for Memory, but I’m not completely sold on it and it may change at some point.

 

The residency itself was incredible.  I met almost a hundred writers and they were all warm and welcoming.  It was like finding a family that you didn’t know you had.  Everyone there wants to help you on your journey to become a better writer, from the faculty, the mentors, to the other students. I’ve never been in an environment like that and let me tell you, it was inspiring. We talked about writing, examined writing, critiqued writing, and actually did some writing.  When we weren’t in class the talk was still centered around writing and what we were working on or what obstacles we’d encountered in the process.  We also had some fun, although I would classify talking about writing as fun, we had several dinners and social gatherings, just to get to know each other better.  This was deeper than networking, at least it felt like it to me. We were getting to know our cousins and uncles and aunts and nieces and nephews.  It honestly felt like that.  The week culminated with a graduation for the seniorist class, the “Sixes”, as each class is referred to by it’s residency number.  The graduation was surprisingly emotional.  One of the graduating students gave a wonderful recap of their time together and the things that made each of them special. It was heartwarming.

 

The facility is on the grounds of an old Nunnery.  Everyone refers to the place as Hogwarts, because of its old wood and brick design and the fact that it just looks like the inside of Hogwarts.  People get lost that have been attending there for years and claim the hallway moved. (again) There is a graveyard onsight and in the summer residency there is a late night ghost walk every year. Many people claim the place is haunted.

 

I am so motivated to do all things involved with the writing process.  I actually know I am going to finish this book and it’s going to be good.  The SHUWPF (Seton Hill University Writing Popular Fiction) program has inspired me with that kind of confidence. I’m plotting out some nuances now and adding layers. I will fine tune the first 30 pages and send them out soon to my new writing partners, one is an English instructor at the collegiate level and the other a retired Marine Corps Colonel.  I am thrilled to be working with these wonderful people.  My mentor is David Bischoff, whose written more than 90 novels, most with a SF bent.  I feel very blessed.

 

The upperclassmen have been absolutely wonderful about taking us under their wing and showing us the ropes and making us feel welcome.  I love my fellow “Ones”, who will be “Twos” in June. We now have our own private place online to help each other.  The first steps on this journey were better than I expected and I am ridiculously excited about our time yet to come.

 

Clear Ether!