hi ChipsterZoneBlog Best
This is the second time I've had the good fortune to attend Writing Excuses recording sessions. The first was at the inaugural "Out of Excuses Retreat" in 2013. If you get the chance I highly recommend it -- you get to hear the information and feel like an insider at the same time. (I also had the chance to listen to Cory Doctorow doing some of his "With a Little Help from my Friends" recordings live at WorldCon 2009 in Montreal -- again you feel like a real insider. That one featured Neil Gaiman in the role of "friend" so was doubly special.)
Only Dan Wells and Howard Tayler were at GenCon this year so they pulled in multiple guests from the Con to record the several episodes. These are starting to show up now in the podcast stream, for example the September 13 episode is "Being a Good Panelist and a Great Moderator, with Susan J. Morris and Marc Tassin"
By the way, Marc Tassin is the director GenCon Writer's Symposium and does a great job -- you will see him in and around the seminar rooms all the time keeping things running smoothly. He also has a great speaking voice so listen for that.
A handful of us retreat alums also got to help out in a couple ways, either facilitating the audience microphone during the Q&A episode or packing up some of the recording equipment after the session. We then got to go to dinner with The Dan Wells at California Pizza Kitchen where we toasted the event and each other with maraschino cherries. The folks at CA PK were very gracious.
I had a couple regular sessions ticketed for late Sunday morning but I see I took no notes from those. I'm not even sure I went to the final one. Sunday morning's first event had drawn my full attention: "Read & Critique".
There were about 24 of us writers that were there to be judged, split into 3 different rooms with 3 different panels of young but well-published authors. You want your work to be well received but you know that you need the negatives, too, however hard it may be to hear.
So I prepared a couple of possible things to read -- one fairly safe and one that I felt good about but that needs to be better, and I showed up. The moderator for my session was strict. Disciplined. We readers drew numbers for order. I think I was number 5 of 8. Three minutes only to read. The moderator commanded stop -- mid-sentence or not -- and we stopped. You can read only about two pages in this amount of time. Not much! Then each of the four critics provided a couple minutes of feedback -- with no commentary from the reader. As promised they served up mostly "crap sandwiches": something good then some bad things and then something good again.
I chose to read my piece that needs work. The first author said some nice things then thought the tone of a metaphor I used was a bit off. The fourth author also noted the metaphor, but felt quite strongly that it was well done. Which just goes to show that there are no absolutes.
I talked to participants in other sessions -- mine was not the only one with tears. We are better for the experience, I'm almost certain of it.