Thursday, July 7, 2011

Workshops; or, How To Let The Air Out Of Your Ego In One Easy Step

I've gone and done it again.

I've submitted three chapters of my current work in progress to the Writer's Workshop at the World Science Fiction Convention.

What does that mean? It means that a couple of other budding writers, as well as one or possibly two published professionals, will be reading the novel excerpt I've submitted and providing a critique on it. And, in turn, I'll be providing a critique on the excerpts submitted by the other budding writers.

I did this two years ago, when the convention was held in Montreal. It was an eye-opening experience for me, mostly because I was sure I had written the next best-seller, and everyone was going to lavish praise on my story. Only I hadn't, and they didn't.

I'm able to look back at it more objectively now. To be fair, my style and voice did earn praise. But the folks doing my critique felt there was too much of a disconnect between the beginning of my story and the rest of it. They felt it was too gritty and almost photorealistic compared to the almost farcical chapters that followed.

I was, at the time, heartbroken. I couldn't even think about writing for about a month afterward. But I can see that their criticisms were valid, despite the fact that I still haven't figured out how to really fix the story. I've plotted out an alternate beginning that might work, but I'm lacking the motivation to write it. One of these days, I'll probably get around to it and see how it goes.

So why am I doing this again, you ask? Well, for a couple of reasons.

First, while my initial experience was not all I had hoped for, as a result of it, I did end up in a great on-line writing workshop, with some of the best critique partners on the planet (including one person who was in that original critique group). Second, I do feel as though I've grown as a writer as a result, and now I'm absolutely positive I've written the next best-seller. (Okay, just kidding about the second part of that last sentence.) But I think I have a more realistic idea of what to expect this time around. And third, I firmly believe that in order to grow, one has to challenge oneself. Even if it's scary (and this is). This is me, challenging myself. Hear me roar.

Renovation (this year's World Science Fiction Convention) is in Reno, August 17-21. I'll let y'all know how it goes.

What scary things have other people done to further their growth as writers?