This past weekend, I attended a writer’s workshop sponsored by the Pima County public library. I’ve always been impressed with the services this library provides, including a wide variety of online databases that I can access with just my library card account number.
This workshop was one of a three-part series called “The Fantastic in Word and Image”. The idea is to bring in successful creators of a variety of sci-fi/fantasy to talk about how to go about creating this type of work. Yesterday’s workshop was led by authors Will Shetterly and Robert E. Vardeman who talked about how they work, what inspires them, big mistakes they’ve made along the way, etc. They’re both incredibly prolific, and have been in the field for a very long time.
I came away with a couple of main messages:
- All creative endeavors have similar processes, goals, and challenges. This is particularly true of storytelling, whether it be script writing, comic books, novels, even songs or, dare I say it? technical writing. See, for example, the Usability Professionals Association 2006 Conference, “Usability through Storytelling” or anything by Whitney Quesenbery like this piece on Personas and Storytelling.
- Community is Key. It just so happened that one of the other attendees at this workshop was Pamela Lloyd, an STC colleague from a couple of years back. She has recently had a short story published in the anthology “Space Pirates”. I asked how this came about, and she said it started because she was at a science fiction convention here in Tucson, and happened to hear the editor was discussing the project with a couple of the other authors. Because she already knew these people – she was already part of the community – they asked her to submit a story. Obviously, it was a good story or it would never have been included, but even her best story would not have been published (and certainly not in this particular anthology) if she hadn’t been participating in community events.
- Community is Key, part 2. Wil Shatterly and Emma Bull are creating a community over at Shadowunit.org. The concept is that of a television show that just doesn’t happen to have been on tv.
The FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit hunts humanity’s nightmares. But there are nightmares humanity doesn’t dream are real. The Behavioral Analysis Unit sends those cases down the hall. Welcome to Shadow Unit.
They actually started with “DVD extras”, and have a full “season 1″ available on the site. With message boards, a wiki, and a growing community of participants, this “show” will be worth watching for a while!
- Tucson Sci Fi Event! I am inspired to make this the year I finally get to go to Tuscon, a local Tucson Sci Fi, Fantasy, and Horror convention that I first heard about while attending the big Star Trek convention a couple of years ago in Las Vegas. This year marks the 35th Annual Tuscon event, and they’re expecting a a ton of attendees for readings, panels, an art show, and more. Relating this event back to the weekend workshop, the library and Tuscon are holding a sci-fi/fantasy short story contest, with judges authors Will Shetterly and Robert E. Vardeman.
The library workshop series concludes in two weeks with comic book writers/artists Adam Beechen, Benjamin Ilka and Dylan Meconis. I’d love to go, but that happens to be the weekend I’ll be in Chattanooga at the Practical Conference on Communication.