Monday, September 26, 2011

Word On The Street 2011

Yesterday was Word On The Street, 2011 edition, and I had a blast! And it all started with a cookie.

Perhaps I should explain that possibly cryptic statement. My Word On The Street Sunday started the same as they have the last few years, with me running late. My original plan has always been to be there by 11AM, and it has gone awry every single year. But at least I'm learning. If I want to get there I need to be up and out the door earlier. Also, taking the train from Burlington works a heck of a lot better than driving all the way into Toronto. (I learned that the first year to my dismay.)

So, yes, cookie. I arrived at the Burlington Go station too late for the 10:10 train, so I had to take the 11:10. While I was waiting a lovely young lady, who's name was Leann, I think (we exchanged names but I might be misremembering it or misheard it) offered me a cookie from a box she'd picked up at a bakery with her friend earlier that day or weekend.

Thus started my day, being offered a tasty treat from a lovely lady. So instead of spending the trip up to Toronto with my nose buried in the newspaper I'd just purchased I ended up chatting with Leann the whole time. Now, I know for most people this doesn't sound so special, but for me it was. I've always been a shy person, with a very thick shell. The fact that I was able to come out of it long enough to have an extended conversation with someone, never-mind that it was an attractive woman, is a minor victory for myself.

And it only got better as the day went on. So, after a pleasant trip up to Toronto I made my way to Queen's Park and wandered around. I had the good fortune to find Karen Dales and Violette Malan, two very sweet persons and outstanding authors. (Okay, so far I've only read Violette's work but every time I run into Karen she tries to get me to buy a book, in a no pressure friendly way, so I'm sure I'll submit and buy one eventually.)

Again I had a chance to chat, and again it was nice how easy it was to carry on an extended conversation. Honestly, fantasy and sci-fi authors have to be the nicest people on Earth. I mean, I've run into these ladies only a few times each yet I feel completely comfortable around them. As we talked I even mentioned that I was looking to apply to the Clarion Writers Workshop and they were both very encouraging and wished me success in getting in. Really, really nice people.

After I finished my wandering I ducked into the Wordshop tent. I may have mentioned this in a previous post, but it's put on every year I've been to Word On The Street by the Humber College of Writing. There are some interesting lectures, but the highlight of the day is when they read out first pages submitted by the audience throughout the day, give feedback, and state whether they'd continue reading past the first page. One of the hardest things to do is to get an editor to read past the first page. And my page got read! And they said they'd read past the first page!

Validation is nice and all, but what really helped was the feedback Kim Moritsugu, a teacher at Humber, provided. This is all done anonymously, so no one knew it was from me, so the comments Kim and her fellow panelist Jack David made were without bias and honest.

All things considered, Word On The Street 2011 was a great day for me. I got some cool books, chatted with some cool people, and got a healthy ego boost (don't worry, my head hasn't gotten so big it won't fit through the door). I can't wait for next year.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Two Years Already?

Wow, it's been two years since I started this blog. Two years since I started getting serious about my writing. Two years since I've said to myself, I'm gonna do this.

So where am I now?

Well, first off, I'm still unpublished. I wish I could say that this surprises me, but I knew from the beginning that it would be a long hard road before anything of mine actually hit print. Also, I knew then that my writing was nowhere near the quality it needed to be, but I've kept working at it and I have seen an improvement.

So how do I know I've improved? Two things; feedback and rejections. Okay, I start with the rejections idea since that's probably got people scratching their heads. One of my major accomplishments was to start submitting my stories for publication, rather than just writing them and saying "Gee, it would be nice to get published." None of them have been, but I've started noticing a change in the rejection letters I've received. The last few have provided feedback, rather than just stating "This isn't for us". Yes, it's still a rejection, but anything that helps me grow as a writer is to be cherished.

Now, about the feedback. Two things I've done to get this. First, I joined, a critiquing site where I provide critiques for others and they give me feedback on my work. It's helped a lot, both to pump me up when I get some positive comments about my work, and when weak areas are pointed out. Second, I've joined/help start a small writing group. So far there are only three of us, spread out over a large geographic area, but it's a beginning, and any and all feedback from fellow writers helps.

Aside from my writing, I've started going to conventions and meeting people (and picking up some great books I'd have otherwise missed on the way). In some ways this has opened my eyes to how the publishing industry works, especially when it comes to science fiction and fantasy. I've made a few new friends, and I hope I've presented myself in a positive light so that if and when I do get published I'll have a good reputation so that people will want to recommend my work. Of course, whatever I write has to be good enough to deserve the recommendation, but I find it's more likely to happen if people remember you fondly rather than thinking you're a dick.

Oh, and on a more personal note, I've been going to a gym for a full year now. This is the first place I've actually been able to do that. Most times, I'll go to a gym for a few months, get frustrated, quit, or start going infrequently. For the past year I've been going steadily, missing only the odd day for whatever reason.

So what now. Well, there is this CBC Radio short story contest I've just started working on a story for, and hopefully there will be an announcement on a new Tesseracts collection soon. So, onward and upward.