Considerations from a Workshop

And we’re back in 3…2..1…

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Hello! I’m back at work, and, coincidentally, back at sanity. Turns out on the last day of the writer’s retreat I took two of my depression pills. Which you would think would turn you really mellow. You would think that, wouldn’t you? 🙂

But hey, I’m okay now, and I understand from the host of the retreat that I didn’t come off as a nut ball. My poor roommate, but since we made the discovery before I left, I hope my reputation as an insouciant but hyper whiner is invalidated!

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You may or may not be aware that this month is Catherine on the road month. My one free weekend at home has turned into a trip to Kansas City to see Edward James Olmos at a Comic Con there. Then, from the 28th through April 1st, I’ll be in Philadelphia at a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) conference. And the next weekend, we have guests. So, looking toward April 14 to do the whole catch a breath thing.

And of course, the relevant question is this: When will I get to see The Hunger Games, since my date night for Friday isn’t happening?

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I’d like to share a few things I’ve learned from this weekend’s writing workshop. For those of you thinking about hosting your own.

1. Eleven is a lot of people. You wouldn’t think so, but if you have a 3 day workshop, eleven is a lot of people. We did okay, but you know, last year, seven was about right in terms of work load and time off load. So, maybe you should think about 8. Or 10.

2. Having a cat or other fuzzy animal on hand for writers who are homesick for their own animals is excellent. Make sure you don’t have allergic writers first. If you do, consider soft stuffed toys.

3. Schedule regular meal breaks. Stick to them. I know this goes against your Bohemian nature. Just do this anyway. The rewards will be better concentration all around. Or, if you want to work through lunch, arrange to have it catered in. Pizza. It’s a happening food.

4. You would think 2 weeks in advance of the workshop would be timely enough for submissions, but if everyone waits until that last moment, and if you have a 10K max, and if you have 10 people, you can see where this math is going. Consider…asking people to get done on staggered deadlines? Or maybe 3 weeks in advance. In theory, writers should always have something on hand, right?

5. Getting a bunch of introverts together probably means you should have one free night during your workshop, so people can hide if they need to. Or a free afternoon. Or Free Willie. For some reason, the free morning always gets subsumed in sleep.

6. Up to individual workshop participants, but maybe next time I do this, I might record my critique. I have notes, and this time I’m using them right away, but that doesn’t always happen, and you know, in 3 months, I won’t know what the hell I’m talking about.

7. Have someone keep track of all the non sequitur quotes. There were lots of people who did this at our workshop, to good advantage. And for blackmail later.

8. Alcohol is a depressant. Caffeine is a stimulant. Writers who mix these might explode. Just sayin’.

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See you guys later this week.

Catherine

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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