02 Jun

Algis Budrys, Starflight, and Moonscapes

Rogue_Moon_1960I was amused this morning in that interesting nostalgic way you can get sometimes, when I read Dean Wesley Smith’s blog post that attributed his interest in doing the Moonscapes bundle to his reading of Algis Budrys’ Rogue Moon. I definitely get it. I, too, read Rogue Moon. For its day it was amazing, and even as a throwback today it’s got that thing that great books have.

But that’s not why I was amused.

I was amused because thinking about Algis made my mind snap back to a morning over breakfast when Algis handed me back a manuscripts and said “Pretty good,” in that way of little words that he could get. We were at the Writers of the Future workshop. The manuscript he handed me was a short story titled “Stealing the Sun,” which I wrote there at the workshop as my 24-hour story and which eventually was published in Analog before going on to become the opening to Starflight. He had a comment or three that made the work better.

You’ll note that Starflight is proudly part of the Moonscapes bundle.

So, yes, in many ways it is a small world.

But, of course, this morning I’m also thinking about how big it is.

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17 Apr

Writers of the “Current”

I recently spent a week in Los Angeles at the Writers of the Future workshop, blogging daily for them and generally having much fun. Part way through it, Galaxy Press asked if I would do individual capsules on each writer. I loved the idea, so I said “sure!” Those went over well enough that they have now asked me to do a series of profiles on past winners. Of course, I said “sure!” again. I’ve got a list of folks, and I’m working my way through them.

It’s been great fun.

It’s also been different from writing about the current winners.

Writing about these past winners has this sense of looking through a time machine, of course. It feels nostalgic in a lot of ways, thinking back to when these names were truly just starting out. Fresh slates, so to speak. Some of them I know personally, and for those the feeling is doubled. Some I “grew up” with. Most are more successful than me, I would say (in a non-jealous kind of way), or at least differently successful. There are New York Times bestsellers here, Hugo winners, Nebula winners, and winners of many other awards.

Unlike the current winners, there is no fresh sense of wonder surrounding these people. Instead, it’s been replaced with this very calm sense of pace, a feeling of competence, a sense, almost, of watching a rock climber scaling a mountain. Seeing their records is like looking back down the mountain, looking at where they are is to see them calmly reach into a resin bag to prepare themselves for the next handhold. It all feels very meta, all tied up in dreams and hard work and random luck and raw persistence. The mere fact of these people’s existence is a small piece of performance art.

It’s fun to feel like I’m somehow a little part of it.

Here are the profiles I wrote for the new winners: (which I’ll try to update when the last two get released)

Doug Souza
Jake Marley
Andrew L. Roberts
Sean Hazlett
C.L. Kagmi
Ziporah Hildenbrandt
Molly Elizabeth Atkins
David Vonallmen
Dustin Steinacker
Andrew Peery
Ville Meriläinen
Anton Rose
Stephen Lawson
Walter Dinjos

04 Apr

My Week at WotF #33

So, yeah, I spent the last 8 days in Los Angeles at the Writers of the Future workshop (volume 33). It’s been a total blast meeting the winners and writing about them. Along the way I got to catch up with Mike Resnick. Robert Sawyer, and Kevin Anderson, and learn once again from Dave Farland and Tim Powers–not to mention the long string of judges who stopped in to talk about the craft and the business. The contest is a major, major event in the lives of these quarterly winners, and it’s a heady experience to watch them progress through the week.

It’s going to be a great group, too. I’m sure I’ll be posting more about the gang soon, but if you’re interested in daily details of the week you can find them here:

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6
The Event!

27 Mar

WotF: Looking Back

Sitting at the airport, getting ready to fly to LA for the 33rd annual Writers of the Future workshop, which I’m privileged enough to be attending as a past winner and a “Reporter on the ground,” whatever that is. [grin] My own trips to this event as a participant were for volumes 14 and 15, when I was first a published finalist, and second, a prize winner. It’s been an interesting run since then. It will be great fun to see it all happen again.

Almost twenty years down the road, now, I’m thinking about what the contest has meant to me.

At first I thought of the event itself—the opportunity to learn from AJ Budrys (sadly now passed), and Dave Wolverton and Tim Powers and Kevin Anderson and … it’s a heady experience for a new, wannabe writer. And, of course, spending a week with other people in your position, and then seeing the book with all their work in it. My signed volumes are still prized possessions. I can pick out a bunch of these kinds of things. There are literally hundreds of great things about the event, and all of them make a difference.

But, when I look back on it I think the biggest impact the contest had on me was to change my mindset from that of a wannbe/newbie for whom the world looks like a bunch of closed doors into a one whose mindset was one of opportunity, and a world where things can and do happen. It moved me from a wannabe to a “canbe,” if that makes sense. And this is a huge jump—really, it’s probably the biggest jump I had to make. The next jump (“Canbe” to “Doing it”) is more a matter of persistence and love of craft than anything else, and it has lots of dark nooks to fall into also. But that first jump is something that tangles a lot of writers up. Running with one foot in each traditional and indie publishing camps, I run into a lot of people who have been doing this for a while, and still haven’t made it through that jump.

Now, realize, I was already a fairly major optimist about things. Life, for me was always about making things work, so at some level I always assumed some kind of success. But, still, the entry ramp to this world is mysterious and covered with mist.

The contest helped clear that mist.

For that, and for all the other things I could check off, I’m most grateful.