My friend Claire has a story up at Strange Horizons. She’s a fellow grad of Viable Paradise XII, and every time I read one of her stories, it’s like a kick in the ass to Do Better. You go read.
John Scalzi, who instructionated me greatastically at Viable Paradise XII, just sold the movie rights to his “Old Man’s War” military SF series of novels to Paramount Pictures. Wolfgang Petersen, of “Das Boot” fame, will direct the first movie.
Good for him! I hope he remembers his former students when he builds that solid gold mansion in Ohio with all the millions from the 10% of gross receipts his wife undoubtedly negotiated for him.
It’s exactly one month until Readercon, and I set myself the deadline to finish the first draft of That Damn Sequel before I head down to MA for a few days of convention fun with some of my Viable Paradise friends. Therefore, most of my non-child-wrangling time is currently taken up with the pushing of the word count. In addition, I took on some more paying work, which is good because it usually results in cashable mail hitting my mailbox. As a result, my World of Warcraft characters are once again on hiatus, getting all fat and drunk in various Azeroth taverns, and they’ll have to take a monster-slaying sabbatical until I have a complete draft in my hands.
If you have sent me mail recently, pardon the laggy replies. I’m working through my Inbox in bursts.
So it’s finally snowing outside again. We’re supposed to get 6-10 inches by tomorrow morning, which will give me a chance to dust off the poor snowblower.
Boskone was fun. I reconnected with some VP pals, and met a bunch of new people. In the end, I was bummed to have to leave on Saturday evening already. The next con in the area will be Readercon, and half a dozen of my fellow VPXII alumni will be there, so I’m planning on going there in July, and maybe staying overnight.
Readercon is on the weekend after Independence Day, which gives me a perfect deadline for two different projects I am currently tackling. The first is the MilSF novel I’m writing, which stands at 45,000-ish words right now. My plan is to have it finished and edited into good shape by the time I go to Readercon. The other project is the reduction of my gravity footprint–at my current rate of shrinkage, I should be at my target weight by then. (I left behind 13 pounds in the first six weeks of the year, and I continue to shed about two pounds a week.) So that’s the goal: show up at Readercon slim and trim, with Book Two of Three in the Space Kablooie series under my arm. (Not the actual title of the series, mind you.) The con weekend in Burlington will be my reward for meeting both targets.
In other news in the Social Events category, we’ll have another Northeast Blog Meet dinner on March 1st, which will have me trekking down into (or near) Menino’s Mordor again. There are also two German Stammtisch evenings coming up in the next two months. I have to watch this “hanging out with adults” business, lest I develop a social life…
I got home from VP on Saturday of last week, and took the rest of the weekend off from writing…playing with the kids, spending some time decompressing, and so on.
On Monday morning, I picked up the quill again, so to speak. By Thursday, I had written an entirely new chapter for the SF novel in progress, based on the input from my one-on-one sessions with the instructors. By yesterday, I had rewritten big chunks of the original Chapter 1 (now bumped to Chapter 2), to mesh better with the new material. I also wrote a product review for a different market.
Total word count for the week: over 6,000 words.
My new post-VP habit is the shifting of my writing time from the end of the day to the beginning, before any other business. Robin leaves the house at 6am, and the kids don’t get up until 7:30 or 8. That’s when I sit down and do the work of the day, rather than using the “left-over” time at the end of the day. Every day last week, my word count has exceeded the 1,000-word goal I’ve set myself, and most of the time, I didn’t even work for the full two hours.
For someone who’s not a morning person, it’s not the easiest thing in the world to sit down at that desk first thing and write 1,000 words of original material before even hitting the shower, but it feels great when you know that the work of the day is done. No matter what else happens during the day, I have my 1,000 words in the bag before breakfast.
VP XII…what a glorious, inspiring, and enjoyable week it was. It’s hard to believe that something can be so tiring and so energizing at the same time.
A little over a week ago, I took the ferry from Woods Hole on Cape Cod over to Martha’s Vineyard, where I attended the week-long Viable Paradise writing workshop for SF and Fantasy writers. The workshop exceeded my most optimistic expectations.
To those of you who don’t write, a detailed review of the experience would be terribly boring, so I’ll just sketch a broad picture in this space.
It’s hard to describe Viable Paradise to someone who wasn’t there. I could tell you about the thrill of getting to sit down with successful authors and editors in the field, and having them go through my work and tell me precisely what works and what doesn’t.
I could tell you about the new friends I’ve made, the almost surreal feeling of cohesion among the students, and the feeling that I truly found my “tribe”.
I could tell you about the excellent lectures and collegiums, getting frank and open advice about all aspects of the writing business by professionals who have been successful in the field for decades.
I could tell you about the consistently high quality of work from students and instructors alike, about the feeling of being in a room full of highly talented people, and about everyone contributing to–and feeding off–the creative energy in the room.
I could tell you about the instructors, who shared their time and expertise willingly and generously, and who then spent their free time socializing with us: Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Jim Macdonald, Debra Doyle, Steven Gould, Laura J. Mixon, Elizabeth Bear, and John Scalzi. I think the world of each and every one of them, and you’d have a hard time finding a more professional and generous group of tutors.
I could tell you about the beauty of the island itself, about standing on the beach at night and seeing the most incredible starscape I’ve ever seen.
I could tell you about the fabulous staff, who took care of us around the clock, making sure that we could keep our minds free for the many readings and writing assignments.
You can hear about all of those things, and you’ll still only get a vague idea of what Viable Paradise is all about.
On the ferry back from the Vineyard, I discussed the workshop with some fellow students, and I used the term “transformative experience”. It was one of those rare occasions where you are in the right place, at the right time, with the right people, and the resulting experience changes your attitude and outlook radically. I have a new understanding of the writing craft, a new confidence about the quality and commercial viability of my writing, and a whole new section in my address book full of people I’d trust with the keys to my car and house without blinking. There wasn’t a person at the workshop I didn’t like, and everyone I met said the same thing. I’m a bit selective about the people I choose to hang out with, and in any given crowd, I generally dislike half the people in it, but that was not the case at Viable Paradise. That kind of instant meshing with like-minded people is a rare experience for me.
If you’re an aspiring science fiction or fantasy writer, and you’re looking for a workshop that will give you the tools you need to advance your craft, I highly recommend you apply to Viable Paradise. It’ll be worth every minute of your time, and every dollar of your tuition.
I am home. I’m also very tired, so the detailed account of my Viable Paradise experience will have to wait a day or two, but I can tell you that it was one of the best weeks of my life.