FenCon Update

Back from my first day at FenCon. Yeah, had to end things early due to other obligations, and honestly, there wasn’t a whole lot of great programming today. My main reason for being there is the Writer’s Workshop lectures with Karl Schroeder.

Karl is a pretty big name in Sci-Fi circles. He’s maybe “The” Canadian Sci-Fi writer and some of his work has coined terms that are in use in artificial intelligence circles. And I haven’t read a damn thing of his. I feel terrible, but it’s true. I spent many years reading non-fiction, news, etc and fell out of fiction all together. I only recently (in the past two years or so) started back up and my “to read” list is daunting. There are also so many classics I’ve opened my eyes to since starting this writing thing.  At any rate, having read Karl’s bio, he’s now on the short-list.

Yes, you read that correctly: “having read his bio”. So far, the class is a bit “meh”. It’s more like storytelling 101. I think since I recently wrapped up a class (well this spring) on the same subject, things feel a bit too familiar. But that does give me something of an ego boost. A lot of this stuff, I know, whether on an education or intuitive level, so it makes me feel good about how the honing of my craft is coming along.

The biggest disappointment is the lack of focus on the stories everyone submitted several weeks back. I read each of them, made notes and was prepared to discuss and get feedback. So far, we have yet to really dive in to them. Two people have agreed to have their stories used as examples, and well, they’re getting their money’s worth for sure. Me, not so much.

However, Schroeder HAS mentioned that of the stories submitted, the two that he really liked did not submit an outline (check). He also suspected they had no outline (check). He’s dropped this hint twice and not expanded. I’m one of about three people that skipped the outline, so I’m going to pretend he’s talking about me.

Here’s what I’ve really gotten out of this though – my crit group ROCKS. Yeah, you know who you are. I had some big expectations for this workshop and honestly, it is all because I get some great feedback from my critters every single week.

In fact, I extolled the virtues of a good critique group during the workshop. Trust me, it was a bonafide PSA. From what I could tell, there were a lot of people in the room that had either tried crit groups or were rationalizing reasons not to do so. Often, they convinced themselves that any critical review offered on by others didn’t apply to their work. They were stuck in their own heads.

My argument is, if everyone tells you something is off or wrong then it ISNT the case that everyone simply doesn’t know what they are talking about. But that’s what several of the group members seemed to be contending when giving reasons why they weren’t in a crit group.

When Karl asked if anyone had been published, three people raised their hands. Of those three (well, I was one, yay!) one for certain had a crit group. Oh, and the teacher, Karl? Yeah, member of a crit group he helped found 25 years ago. WRITING IS ABOUT THE READER. It’s not about someone sharing and then hovering over their “flawless masterpiece”. That’s ego stroking. That will never (well, maybe rarely) get published.

Alright, back to con news. In short, not much more until tomorrow. I’ll go back for the final Workshop session and then there are some great looking panels to attend throughout the day.

Categories: Con Updates

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3 replies

  1. I totally agree. Our critique group is awesome; I’m reminded of that weekly. I think we act positive and professional and so we draw positive and professional writers. It’s a great vibe we have going, and not all critique groups are as solid as ours.

    I think it’s interesting that the people reluctant to listen to feedback (in any given critique group) also tend to be the people who are reluctant to give much critique to others. As with anything else, you get out what you put in.

    Have fun at the rest of FenCon!

    • Ooooh and there is a Sunday morning panel for people with Crit Groups / or looking to start them. Hoping to make that one and share some ideas with our group. So far we’re doing good – Karl said his group meets once per week as well and that’s ideal. Any longer and writers tend to lose momentum during the off time.

  2. Like I said when you and I were STANDING IN THE PARKING LOT UNTIL 1 AM THE OTHER NIGHT (revenge will be mine, oh yes), I totally came into the crit group thinking “yeah my 3 novels are DONE and ready to hit a printing press. Maybe these folks can help me find a genre.” After a couple sessions I started to go “huh, maybe it’s NOT as ready as I had thought.” Then after about a month I started to see so many flaws that I realized they’re not anywhere near ready.

    In the short 3 months that I’ve been making it out I’ve picked up SOOO many pointers and I feel like my writing has taken leaps and bounds. Also I’ve been exposed to genres and styles I wouldn’t normally have, and I feel that a broadened horizon is always a good thing.

    AND ANOTHER THING – hanging out with artists who practice the same craft as you is good for the soul (which is why we have the after-party!).

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