Friday, December 25, 2009

Spec the Halls

I won an honorable mention in the Spec the Halls competition. It's a winter celebration of the weird and the fantastic that can be found at My entry is "Medusa's Holiday."

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Classes I Wish I'd Had

I was a creative writing major in college. More precisely an English major with an emphasis in creative writing. Which meant I largely took literature classes with a smattering of poetry and prose classes thrown in for good measure.

How to Get Published 101

Maybe I missed the elective, but the info on getting published would have really been helpful. There are resources, formatting rules, and general advice that a lot of beginning writers just don't know. Knowing about things like or how to properly put together a query letter would have been beyond valuable. It's great to learn a bit about how to write, it's even better to know what to do with it once you've turned out a finished story.

Science Fiction/Fantasy 100-whatever

I know that Literary Fiction is beyond popular. I know that is what most of the big earners write, but it would have been nice to have a class focused specifically on what I was interested in. I am very grateful to the teachers that let me write what I wanted despite their personal tastes, but it was hard going through the classes that insisted I write nothing but Literary. There's just something about the way Literary writers think and genre writers think that seems to be a bit different. It's not bad, but it was hard to keep everything in the day to day and it did do a number on my desire to write for quite a while.

Rhyming Poetry

Everyone wanted me to write prose poetry. It just doesn't work for me. I understand that Frost and Longfellow and Byron were greats that I will probably never ever rival in my lifetime, but that doesn't mean the forms are dead. They don't have to be. Please don't tell me they are. It hurts. So much.

I am deeply grateful for my education. However, if you'd rather not spend years getting a degree that may not pertain the most to writing and more to being a well rounded individual I strongly suggest conferences. They're just more focused.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


I'll be honest, they kind of suck. But the truth is, they're necessary if you're like me and can't quite see your failings as a writer all on your lonesome. And the ones that suck the most? Well, they're the ones that will help you grow. No one likes to hear that their writing isn't up to snuff. That it's just not good enough as is to get the attention of an editor, but it's often the truth. The great authors of our age very rarely entered the writing world fully formed and ready to knock your socks off with a great yarn. Writing is a craft you grow at, just like art, or even baking. That first half burned slice of toast and punctured egg you made when you were four is most likely not the epic wonder of your baking career. And that totally awesome story you wrote in high school. Well, it's kind of like the toast and eggs (at least if you're me).

The important thing to remember is that the critiquer (or at least any good one) is not judging you. I know it's hard as an artist to separate self from work sometimes, but it gets a lot easier once you do. Just because one story flopped doesn't mean you're worthless. It just means you need to get up, dust yourself off and rework your story. Or let it go die quietly in a corner while you move on to something else (I've had to do this before). You write another story, and another, and hopefully each one is a little better than the last (and if not, you can always send it off to keep the other quietly dying story company). The name of the game is improve, improve, improve.

Which, quite frankly, won't happen if all you ever hear is how great you are and how good your story is. It's nice to hear, but it's not what's going to propel you forward. (At least if you're me. Maybe you're lucky and still feel like pressing yourself to become better when all you hear is how you're the next best thing to sliced bread. I'd just find it a little hard to buy.)