Day one of Jim Gunn’s SF Writers’ Workshop is winding down; in ten minutes it will be midnight here in Lawrence. It’s been a busy day and I still have two stories to critique for tomorrow. Thank God I read all but one story before I left Seattle.
I was up at 6:45 a.m. this morning to call Rachael before she left for her Metro Transit job and then I worked on on 10Flash for a couple of hours (it debuts Wednesday). Then I spent a couple of hours doing mundane things like setting up the little Lexmark printer I sent ahead of me and calling the University’s information systems department to get e-mail turned on in my dorm room.
Jude-Marie Green, associate editor for Abyss & Apex, and I also walked the long blocks to the Student Union to pick up food cards for the university eatery that is across the street from us, a place called Mrs. E’s. We got back in time to join a bunch of the folks at Mrs. E’s for lunch and then we hiked back to Templin Hall for the short story workshop at 1:00 p.m.
What a great session!
Being one of those top of the alphabet persons, my hard-science fiction attempt, A Prayer to Saint Barbara, was first out of the gate. The critiques were generally kind and surprisingly positive. Everyone was unanimous in saying the title didn’t work and agreed that the story was too long, but as I said in earlier posts, it’s a first draft and I expected to be making changes.
After everyone else had their turn, Professor Gunn ticked off a list of revision suggestions. The most significant, I thought, was the importance of my coming to terms with what the story is about. Without that understanding, he said, it is easy to wander and include all manner of unnecessary information. His list of story faults was long but I was pleased to hear him say that he found “the writing to be impeccable.” High praise from an acknowledged master of the art. I worked on a rewrite for two hours after session and chopped out almost three thousand, which is due back in the group next Monday.
BTW, the new title is Fat-Bottomed Girl.
A bunch of us went to dinner at a Greek-Italian place in Lawrence’s charming downtown area and then came back to the dorm to unwind with some movies. I won’t tell you the titles of what we watched, but everyone agreed the collective I.Q. in the room had dropped more than twenty points by the time we headed to our separate rooms for the night.
That’s all for now, other than to say the quality of the writing I am seeing here is awesome and it is so much fun spending this much time with other people who love writing and science fiction as much as I do. What a great bunch of geeks and I use the term with the utmost respect. Someone remarked today, I don’t recall who just now, that it was so great to be around so many people who actually read books and understood “big words”. Amen to that.
More later about the people who are here with me to learn how to be better storytellers, as well as words about Professor Gunn, Chris McKitterick, assistant director of the program, who is one of the friendliest, hardest working fellows I have ever met, and Kij Johnson, instructor for the novel-writing sessions. All three of them are the sort with whom I would willingly be stuck on a desert island.