Earlier this month, I spent two weeks on the University of Kansas campus attending the beginning novel writing workshop at the Center for the Study of Science Fiction.
Lawrence is a lovely town, full of brightly painted houses and big trees.
Mainly, fishbowling is a way of figuring out your story so that you can write a better draft of your novel. One of my classmates had an amazingly detailed outline by the end of the workshop, others had clear sets of action through the first turn, and it seemed as though everyone walked away with a better sense of clarity in regards to their project. I finally met my protagonist and discovered her story and her core need that will push my story forward. It was fascinating to watch novels expand with ideas, try out different possibilities, and finally find their solid paths – friendly sidewalks with not quite so many bricks missing.
We shared the dorm with the short story writers workshop. In the evenings they watched movies on the 3rd floor of the dorm, with novel writers invited as well. Throughout the workshops there are also people in the dorm who are on retreat – they just come to be around other writers and write. There’s an atmosphere of love for science fiction and fantasy, of engagement in the larger writing community, and of creative play. It’s lovely.
At the end of the second week we attended the Campbell Conference, held in the swanky Oread Hotel, just down the street from the KU Student Union where we ate lunch everyday.
|Campbell and Sturgeon Awards|
Saturday was rainy and I wasn’t feeling well, so I stayed in. But I wish I had pushed myself to go to the panels and signings. I heard that Andy Duncan’s reading was fantastic, and from the very short reading he gave during the student readings on Thursday I have no doubt it was entertaining and lovely. If I’m ever lucky enough to attend the workshop again, I’m not going to miss the Saturday events of the Campbell Conference.
The beginning novel writer’s workshop gave me the confidence and stubbornness I’ll need to finish a full draft of my novel. My fellow workshoppers are writing so many amazing, beautifully told stories that I hope I will get to read as they grow into novels.
|Kij Johnson and Barbara J. Webb’s
Class of 2013