Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Writing: Sit Vac

Confession time: I has a Fail at using writer workshops.

Last year I signed up for the Online Writer's Workshop for Science Fiction and Fantasy, used it a handful of times, then ran out of oomph. I found myself dedicating too much time to reading and critiquing other people in a thoughtful and intellectual manner, and getting barely anything back in response. I was having to do two to four critiques for every one piece I wanted critiqued, and it was seriously cribbing on the time I had set aside for writing.

Lazy? Possibly. Annoying? Absolutely. I know not everyone needs or wants to use readers or critiques as part of their writing framework - I think I understand where this is coming from because I'm not comfortable with certain people reading my work. I would never ask my SO, family or even best friends to read my work. It comes back to that "reading my diary" thing - my fiction is not about me, but I am my fiction.

As a noobie (and yes, I still count myself as a noobie almost a year in because I haven't broken any professional markets) I still think I need support and a "first reader". I have dabbled at Kiwi Writers and they're good for inspiration and support, but I'm not so great at sticking to writing plans. I know this is something I'll have to get over if I ever settle down to write a novel, but at this point I'm really enjoying the flexibility of writing short fiction - I'm playing around with a lot of inspiration and styles to see what fits me, and working on finding my voice.

So, that "first reader" that I need. I need someone who has a bit of time to offer me (I don't know, maybe a half hour every week or so), someone who knows my personal politics and will endeavour to understand my style and how that weaves into my characters. I need someone who knows me and they're not afraid of offending me if they point out things that need tightening up literary wise.

I need someone who is also a writer, which is a difficult request because I know lots of other writers in the same boat may not have the time or patience to work with me. Or they may look at me as an "untrained" writer (I feel I have more emotional maturity when it comes to writing, if not the actual grammatical nouse) and don't want to deal with that sort of frustration over the long haul.

I also feel kinda weird asking for help at my writers group, because I don't know everyone that well and they're busy with their own writing work as well. I think some writing round tables and critique nights may in be our group's future, and that'll be great, but I'm looking for someone to go the distance.

What can I offer in return? Well, nothing of monetary value anyway. I could offer friendship, guidance, help - though I can be somewhat prickly as you get to know me. I could critique in return; offer an acknowledgement in a signed copy of my first book; name them in my first Hugo speech (ok ok, I'm allowed to joke about it!). I'm really looking for a writer friend who may not be a friend but could become a good friend if we get the writerly relationship right.

Pretty steep requirements, I know. Also, I never know what the internetz may drag in by making this public. I've never been great at asking for help. It's like saying "Hey, Shakespeare, be my writer buddy? I'll pay you in beer..."


  1. I still owe you a crit for reviewing Blalan's Game on Oct. 3rd and have been waiting for a chance at another piece. If you're up for it, I could even review it off the OWW.

    I found that for every sub I posted, I'd get 5 or more critiques and return them 1 for 1 unless I felt there was a major discrepancy (somebody told me they liked it and offered no advice or criticism and had a gargantuan submission for me to critique back).

    It's rare that I wasn't able to read a sub and stay in the story. I feel like a cop-out for not returning yours.

    Dave Fortier

  2. Hey Dave

    I never expect 1 for 1 crits, so don't fuss yourself :)

    I'll probably put up the piece I want critted in the next few days so I'll ping you when I do. Thanks for the offer :)