Up and at ’em since dark-o-thirty. I went to bed early last night, and it seems to have been a wise thing to do. I think it’s going to help me get through the next few days on a more even keel.

What can I tell you about the experience here so far? I liken being here to a lot like your first week in the army, or at college. It’s a different culture, people are getting to know each other, and everywhere you look, you see cultural adjustment going on.

One of the things that instructors have asked is that we don’t tell you specifics about their lectures, as they’d rather do that themselves, or rather, they’d like to keep the material marketable. Have I learned anything that I didn’t know already? No, not really. We’ve had a workshop on plot which was very interesting, as it was an extended metaphor that could probably have been taught only by that instructor, and I thought was good teaching. Props to James MacDonald for that.

Elizabeth Bear delivered a lecture on structure that presented the information in a clear, straightforward demo, and came with a demo from the audience. That was pretty good too. Our writing collegium from yesterday was organic, but serviceable.

Props to the instructors. They gave the same speech I give at the beginning of every comp class. It’s not about you, writers, it’s about your story. James Macdonald reminds everyone that we’re all good writers, else we wouldn’t be here, but they are focusing on the kind of feedback they’d give their fellow writers.

The other students are all over the map in experience. Some of them are where I’m at in the process of getting published. Others haven’t submitted, or don’t have a novel. Some of them are very easy going about the critiques they’ve been getting, whether they’re what they’d hoped for or not. Some are working their way around a critique carefully, as they figure out the new culture. Just like my own students.

Substance has had a one-on-one critique so far. I walked out to the beach with Elizabeth Bear yesterday. Today I meet John Scalzi for another one-on-one, and tomorrow I have my student critique with six other students and a couple more instructors. I have food for thought. Which is why I came. My writer fantasy is no longer to be told I have nothing to do. That’s a very young writer’s fantasy. Nope, I’m all about getting shots from different angles that are specific to my story, so I can think about what happens when and if I revamp and send it out again.

I’ll write up something about the overall feedback I receive when I’ve collected the whole set.

Another thing I’ll probably write up are hot tips for VPers. Logistically, there are some things you might want to be aware of if you make this trip, and that might be useful for folks in the future.

Anyway, I’m doing fine. Missing Bryon lots, but he’d be bored.


Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

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