Posted on September 21, 2012
So over Labor Day weekend, I attended Dragon*Con in Atlanta, GA. One of the main reasons I went is because I participated in the intensive two-day Writers Workshop with Jody Lynn Nye. In a group of twenty, we experienced an in-house workshop in the Hyatt that included guest lecturers like David Gerrold, Todd McCaffrey, and editors from sci-fi publishers like Baen Books.
Out of the twenty people, only nine manuscripts were chosen for group workshop. Although I wasn’t aware of the limiting before I attended, I realized what a huge deal it was that Ms. Nye chose my submission to disseminate amongst the group. At the end of day one when we were all a little punchy but loosened up, I volunteered to have my manuscript section workshopped.
The one thing I would say about the Dragon*Con workshop was that it was brutal, which was a really good thing. No one held their punches back in this workshop, whereas in others, there’s been a lot of patting on the back for just completing the writing. Instead of getting a lot of “it’s good” comments, I got some very real feedback about specifically what worked and what didn’t work. The best comment made was that my dialogue reminded someone of Joss Whedon‘s banter in Buffy. Believe me, I took that compliment to the bar that night and celebrated with a dirty martini (with three olives – get it right!).
Based on the forty-minute feedback, I knew that my style was good, my dialogue worked, and my characters were compelling. There were a few plot issues, but overall everyone wanted to keep reading. So it was a good experience, right?
I ended up experiencing what I term “workshop woes” for about two weeks after my awesome experience at Dragon*Con (both the workshop and the con itself). I couldn’t even open my own writing back up to work on it. Each time I tried to go back to it, I would get depressed and anxious. It didn’t really make sense to me since I work with others to help revise.
It took me two weeks and getting out of my house for me to realize what I needed. I talked about taking a walk in yesterday’s blog, but I think it goes beyond just a general walk. When you have your writing critiqued, your ego gets a little bruised. For some, you may feel like you just did ten rounds. Even if the feedback is positive, someone still attacked your baby.
Unless you’re under a strict deadline, I found that giving a little time between feedback and revision is a good idea. It allowed me to let go of the ideas I held onto so tightly, and to let in new ideas. Those comments that my fellow workshoppers made really helped me see what hooked them – heck, it was great to know that I did have a decent hook. So instead of giving up on that novel, I now know I can take a deep breath and dive write back in. In fact, because of the feedback, I’ve been able to make a major change to a central character that all of a sudden opened up my horizons and help make my story stronger.
I think pain is a an inevitable part of growth. But I’m glad to know that I can take the punches and get back up. Besides, once my work is ready and I put it out there in the world, I need to be a little tough to take what the world throws at my baby then!