Tuesday, September 27, 2011

New Loft class


As I mentioned a blog or two ago, yesterday (Monday) was the first day of my new class at the Loft. It's called Grounding the Fantastic and it's taught by David Oppegaard. I love a new class, not only is it good for discipline and general output, but I enjoy reading and responding to other people's work and having my work read and responded to by others. It's a thrill, because you never know what you're going to get.

Who's got ability?

Who's got delusions?

Will there be anybody we might want to invite to the group?

And a story critique from a brand new group? I always like those. I believe they can be the most helpful, because sometimes the most pure response to your work can come from complete strangers. For one, the general response can be very telling. As the saying goes: If one person says you're a horse, ignore it. If two people say you're a horse, consider it. If three people say you're a horse... buy a fucking saddle. I mean, as a general rule, I don't really give a shit about a particular person's personal opinion of my work, after all, you can't please everyone and if they don't like your stuff, then they don't like it, that's just the way things go sometimes. What's important to the process is trying to separate that opinion from the real issues. For instance, some folks may not like "dark" heroes, that's their thing, but others may just be upset because the character didn't come across the way it was intended to, that's my issue. If someone doesn't "get" the story, then the question becomes: Why didn't they get it? Could I have been more clear? What adjustments can I make going forward? Was it me? Or was it just them? So there's a lot of good responses possible, the key is to listen to what they're saying, not how they say it.

So that's exciting. And honestly, so far so good, as far as the class is concerned. The "Teaching Artist" (as they call the Instructors at the Loft) seems like a good guy and the rest of the classmates seem like they're gonna be an alright bunch, too, with lots of different levels of abilities. Plus, it's nice to be in a room full of nothing but geeks. I like to support the geek community when I can, especially when the Loft provides so few classes for us, so when they do, I'm there. Best yet, (knock on wood) the class seems to lack the usual cast of annoying players that a class, especially a workshop, can sometimes attract. There's one Poetry person, of course, but what're ya' gonna do? Those people are the weeds in the garden that is a Writer's community, there's always one, somewhere.

All in all, a good class. I'm looking forward to more. Although I'm not sure what I'll submit. There's a 12 page, double-spaced limit and the closest I have to that, that's complete, is just over 16 pages, so I might not be submitting any new stuff, which is disappointing.

We'll see.

See, I'm really big on submitting a complete work, or at least, a complete piece of a larger work. My biggest pet peeve during a critique session is when readers can't seem to grasp the idea that, as a smaller piece of a larger work, the entire story isn't covered within the few pages they have, that there will be more of the story revealed--that some questions will be answered--later on. I don't understand why this is so hard to understand sometimes.

"Ah-dur...This part wasn't resolved..."

Of course it wasn't! This is 20 pages of a 300 page book!

And it's even worse when you can only submit a smaller part of an already small section and you have to repeat a dozen times: "Uh... yeah, there's more pages, but since we have a limit... I couldn't submit the last couple, so that's... of course... answered a couple of pages later..."

Fucking maddening.

So, we'll see. I still have a couple of weeks to decide on a submission. Maybe I can get him to bend and allow a few more pages. The whole piece is only 4100 words long! That's nothing.

Come on, people!
Jon

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Status of the Scribblerati


Hey everybody, how's it going?

Good to hear! Myself, I'm blogging over at the Scribblerati blog today, all about the current state of things that concern my favorite Twin Cities based writing group. Go on over and join in on the fun, you won't regret it. Really.

Wink,
Jon

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Updates!

Been awhile, huh?

But are you really all that surprised?

You shouldn't be, you long-time readers at least, as my pattern should be somewhat obvious and reliablly consistent at this point. But for the cheap seats and brand new ticket holders, I'll explain. You see, I write stuff, sometimes stories, sometimes blogs, sometimes threatening letters to the editor posing as a homicidal 11 year old girl/strident pony advocate...


But I digress...

What I mean to say is: I am currently unemployed and job huntin' like a mother fucker and over the course of this new life-path it has become painfully obvious to me that, without the benefit of regular employment, it is very difficult to find the time to blog with any regularity.

I suppose we all have our crosses to bear...

Anyway, since I haven't been blogging too often of late--something I will be changing over the next week or so, as I have several new blogs a'coming--the question on all of your lips must be:


Or more likely: What have you been doing lately? Or as our mild-tempered Canadian brothers and sisters might say: Been writin', eh?

Yes.

Yes, I have.

Now, I know I've been talking about a couple of these for a bit now, but seriously, I am standing on the precipice here, kids. My novel pitch letter is about to go out, next week for sure. I have two short stories with maybe one more quick draft needed and then I will query a few on-line magazines with them, probably not too long after the pitch letter goes out, I suspect. AND I've got a third short story I'll be wrapping up and sending out in the next... eh... let's say week and a half to be safe. That story is going to be submitted for the second volume of a local anthology called Cifiscape (You can find Volume One here). Let's hope they like it. Fingers crossed. So, not only is all of that going on, I'm also knee deep in critiques of the beta draft WIPs for fellow Scribblerati Agents Shawn Enderlin and Claudia Hankin.

Work, work, work.

AND: Monday's a big day, BTW. Monday is the first day of the new class I will be taking at the Loft. It's called: Grounding the Fantastic and it is taught by a man named David Oppegaard, a name with no shortage of vowels, let me tell ya'. Here's the course description:

"A multigenre course open to all levels of students interested in literary, fantasy, horror, and science fiction, this class will focus on creating a realistic story that grounds even the most unusual tale in a recognizable world. Inspired by authors as varied as Stephen King, Margaret Atwood, Cormac McCarthy, and Toni Morrison, this class will discuss several multigenre craft topics and use in-class writing exercises to further investigate these storytelling methods. Then, using what we have learned, we will read and reflect upon one another’s stories in a workshop-style discussion facilitated by the teaching artist. Together, we will go down the rabbit hole of slipstream fiction and discover the multitude of possibilities waiting on the other side. $5.00 copy fee."

It certainly sounds fanciful, doesn't it? All this loose talk of rabbit holes, slipstreams, mulitudes, copy fees... Let the dreaming begin, amirite? So, that's exciting. I always enjoy a new class, new people, new stories, new perspectivess, it really gets the juices flowing. Plus, the last time I took a class at the Loft, I bitched on the comment card about the lack of genre fiction classes offered, so I'm trying to support what is hopefully the herald of a new direction.

Busy, busy, busy. Things to do, things to do.

Anyway, my dear Readers, be sure to look for some more blogs from me this week.

I'll be posting something over at the Scribblerati tomorrow, probably more update stuff, and then the following week I am planning on putting up a review of Nicolas Winding Refn's new movie: Drive, as well as a review/commentary on the new Ultimate Spider-man: Miles Morales. After that, well... who knows? Sky's the limit, right, Miles?


So, keep an eye out and tune in.
Or else...
Jon