Understanding More about My Process

Yesterday, I was discussing paradigm shifts in regard to living. I’ve also been thinking about them in regard to my creative process. Let’s talk about that.

As one writes or creates more, one begins to learn what works and doesn’t work as an artist. In my case, I have discovered that writing every day for an hour at work is really working well for me. I put in less time per week than I did, but what I do with that time is more quality, and I am pleased with that.

I’m finding that having a writing meeting each week with fellow writers on the Internet is also helpful. Each week, Chris, George and I check in with each other and talk about our weekly output and our plans for the week. We are joined by other writers from time to time, but this process is giving me a community and a touchstone.

I’m finding that because I check in with other writers each week, perhaps I don’t need to undertake special trips to check in with other writers about my work. I am getting reliable readers who understand my writing and give me valuable critique. I am also understanding which readers don’t work for me, and why that happens. Some of the best writers I know might not be the best readers for my stuff–not because they tell me things that I don’t want to hear, but because occasionally those readings seem a bit tone deaf toward my purpose. I’m getting better in my gut about picking out which readers have something to contribute to my project and asking them to read.

I’m also getting better about understanding what it is that I am doing at a certain point. I am following my instincts and moving in that direction.

None of this will translate necessarily into publication, but what I expect is that it will translate into my work being truer to my vision for my work, which is now what is most important to me.

So, I doubt that there will be open calls for readers in the future. I will take the time to ask specifically, and hope I’m lucky enough to garner perceptive help. The readers won’t always be the same for all the projects. I’m also pretty certain that I don’t want to participate in the group or the guru retreat any more. There was a time when that was good for me. Now, I have a group each week, and I have specific people I hope to get to look at my work.

Writing retreats are good for bonding and friendship. However, I prefer the retreat now where I am with other artists creating. The time that you put in critiquing others work getting ready for a workshop is a large investment. I love reading other novels and stories, but maybe over the entire year, and not an intensive month, when some writers have prepared a great deal, and other writers have just dashed something off because they had a deadline and they aren’t necessarily working on it.

Yet, I still don’t believe that writers exist in a vacuum. Community is important. Knowing other writers and working with other writers is excellent. It seems that I might be able to do that from the comfort of my own couch and save myself a lot of money. Spending money to connect with friends at conventions could be one way to do this. Making the Las Vegas retreat my only retreat each year would allow me to bond with excellent friends and write away from home without the random nature of the workshop.

So, what does this mean? I don’t see all critiques as equal or valuable, and I am learning to target my work toward people who will give me valuable critiques. I enjoy the writing community that’s around me, but I prefer my writing community to be friends more than acquaintances. I don’t really want the drama I’ve seen in some writing groups both at the critique and between the critiques, and a way to avoid that is to stay home, especially since I tend to be a drama llama, a habit I am truly trying to leave behind me.

I plan to continue to host Paradise Icon, a group that I expect will largely stay the same, and that I enjoy. I plan to keep checking in with friends on Thursdays, and move steadily forward on my writing, and then ask good critique partners, whom I hope have time to help me out. And the rest? Well, I’m not certain about the rest. Should I replace writing workshops with conventions with friends? Should I just go to retreats? Should I just put my butt in the chair and stay home? Stay tuned.

You could blame Wonderbook, by the way, for this shift. You might be right. Vandermeer and Katagiri.

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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