babarnett: (Default)
Tomorrow I head off to the The Never-Ending Odyssey (aka TNEO), a week-long workshop for alumni of the six-week Odyssey Writing Workshop, so my current LJ scarcity will likely become even scarcer. But before I head out, an actual post!

Gearing up for TNEO over the last several weeks got me wondering: just how much have I really grown as a writer since attending Odyssey in 2007?

Writing workshops are most definitely not for everyone, but for some of us, they can be an amazing, inspiring, eye-opening experience. And contrary to what some would suggest, not all writing workshops result in cookie-cutter stories written to some kind of formula. I’m sure there are some that do, but my Odyssey classmates and I went into the program as very different writers, and we all came out of the program remaining very different writers.

Had I not attended Odyssey and just continued writing and seeking feedback on my work, I’m sure I would have still improved and grown as a writer over time. But I think Odyssey pushed me in the right direction harder and faster than I would have been able to do on my own. The question, though: how do you quantify that?

Writing success can be subjective and dependent on factors other than talent or the strength of a story. (Sure, you wrote a fantastic story about radioactive bunnies, but Magazine A just published a story about radioactive bunnies.) And of course, sales and artistic merit don’t always go hand in hand. (Repeat to self: I will not rant about sparkly vampires.) But because I’m someone who writes with the hope of achieving publication success, sales are probably the best measure I have to go with. That, and I'm one of those sick people who actually enjoys crunching numbers.

Crunching and analysis under the cut... )

I doubt my data will be all that interesting to anyone other than myself, but if you have your own stories of workshop experiences or realizations about your growth as a writer, please feel free to share in the comments.
babarnett: (get fuzzy talented bucky)
As some folks already know from me babbling elsewhere, I queried Hub on a submission earlier this week and received a lovely reply that they'd like to publish "To Someone Who Needs Prayer."  Yay-ness!  Currently awaiting the contract and what issue it will be in, but I will be sure to shamelessly plug when the time comes.

I think the story was up to about 1,600 words when I had it critiqued at Odyssey.  A few folks suggested the story would work better as a flash piece (I believe I owe props to [info]ericjamesstone and[info]todd_vandy for that, possibly others), and I had to agree.  So after making some story-level revisions, I focused on getting it down to 1,000 words, which turned out to be harder than I thought it would be.  But after many head-meets-desk moments, I did it.  Well, if you want to be really picky about things, it ended up being about 20-something words over 1,000.  Close enough for grenades and rounded-to-the-nearest-hundred submission word counts.

In the writerly progress department, things have been going well.  There have been distractions aplenty this week (like taking on layout duty for a newsletter I normally only have to do the content editing on), and this weekend will be full of musical craziness (dress rehearsal tonight, concert tomorrow night, and yet more solo and choir singing on Sunday morning), but when I have sat down to write, the productivity has been a-flowing.  I'm hoping I can finish and polish up the first draft of the short story I've been working on--the one with the unintentional and previously blogged about tense hopping, which is tentatively borrowing its title from an Emily Dickinson poem, "Nobody knows this little Rose."

I've already slacked on dedicating Tuesday nights to the novel revision, though.  A few weeks ago, I spent my Tuesday night writing time with [livejournal.com profile] shvetufae, [livejournal.com profile] vash137, and crew revising the orgy story.  The Tuesday after that, I skipped out on the journey into Philly and fiddled with the tense-hopping story, but mostly slacked since the Sinus Headache from Hell kept coming and going all night.  And this past Tuesday, I was in such a groove on the tense-hopper that I just kept going. 

So on the bad side, my dedication to novel revisions is rubbish.  On the good side, at least I'm slacking in favor of short story writing instead of DVDs and Mythbusters.
babarnett: (ash boomstick)
So much for going to bed early tonight like I had planned.  Oops.

Anyway, I finally got my writing groove back on this past week and finished my story revisions in plenty of time for the first TNEO deadline.  I feel better now.  For you '07ers who critiqued the original version last summer at Odyssey, the story in question would be the one I've come to lovingly refer to as "the orgy story." Its actual title, however, is "The Sun's Rebirth" (changed from the boring and generic "Legacy" title I originally gave it).  I was amazed by just how much stuff in the first draft didn't need to be there.  It started out at 6,100 words; now it's about 3,800.

Now I need to figure out what to work on next.  Something new, or another revision?  Or the revision that will essentially be something new because I'm going to rewrite it from a completely different POV?  Will have to look through what's waiting in the wings and see which one goes "Ooo, me! Pick me!" the loudest.
babarnett: (Default)
We'll start with the positive. "Lucky Clover" received some nice comments over yonder: A Mystery That Reads

I got myself all signed up for TNEO this summer. For you non-Odfellows out there, that would be the The Never-Ending Odyssey, a week-long workshop during the summer for Odyssey grads. Doing the short story track, though I may throw in a novel chapter as one of my submissions. The option's there, and it's quite likely that I'll, oh, actually have a chapter fit for human eyes ready by the last submission deadline.

Speaking of, the novel de-suckification process has officially begun. Woo hoo! Tuesday nights have become Revise That Damn Novel Night. Short stories will have to clamor for attention during the rest of the week. Starting the revisions was painful. The first chapter originally opened with a prophecy being delivered. Part of the de-suckification process involves removing said prophecy from the novel. Translation: entirely new opening scene needed. I came up with this wonderful new opening sentence two weeks ago, then promptly got stuck. But this week I finally banged my head against the wall hard enough to knock some bricks loose and squirm through.

On the short story writing front, I've been utterly useless lately, and my excuses for that uselessness all suck. Other than the week or so during which my lemur-on-a-dirigible story came pouring forth, my productivity has been pretty darn pathetic. Occasional small bursts of achievement here and there, but mostly lots of swearing, teeth gnashing, and rewriting the same sentence over and over again before finally falling prey to the lure of my DVD collection and reruns of Mythbusters.

At least now I have a motivator for whipping my current story into shape: fear. The April 12 deadline for my first TNEO submission is looming awful close. So on that note, I am off to laugh in the face of distraction and achieve productivity.
babarnett: (yoda)
...and ready to get back to that writing thing. 

Tomorrow.

I didn't do any writing at the shore, but I did get a lot of reading done, which made for a nice change of pace.  Not having to critique any of that reading was even nicer.  And while the frequent eating out that came with a week's vacation didn't aid my mission to return my Odyssey-expanded waistline back to its original size, it did at least aid with the relaxation.

Then, after a week without internet access, I came home to 80-something e-mails today and my brain exploded.

Among those e-mails was one announcing that the e-zine Darker Matter, where I recently had a flash piece published, is ceasing publication after its current issue.  Bummer.  They published some interesting stuff, and the editor Ben Coppin was great to work with.

On a happier note, today in the mail I got my contributor copies of issue 4 of Fictitious Force, which has a story of mine called "To Worship Death" in it.  And I get to share the table of contents with Daniel Ausema, a fellow member of an online critique group I belong to, which is cool.

On a final note, if anyone need a humorous take on the world of writing advice, my sister-in-law and family gave me a  book called Fondling Your Muse by John Warner that they had originally planned to send to me while I was at Odyssey.  I've only had a chance to glance through the book, but what I've seen is pretty damn funny. 
babarnett: (yoda)
Procrastinatory me got all of my Odyssey notes typed up as of today.  Yay for vague sense of accomplishment!

On the not-so-accomplished side of the spectrum, my other goal for this weekend was to get my leprechaun story (which is undergoing a title change from "Family Luck" to "Unlucky Clover") revised and in the mail before I head down the shore tomorrow.  Yeah, didn't happen.  I made some progress on the revisions, but it's going a lot slower than I thought it would.  My internal editor--an annoying, temperamental little pain in the butt on a good day--seems to have been joined by the phantom voices of the Odyssey critique circle.  You guys are a picky bunch, even when you're only in my head.

Anyway, after a way-too-early-in-the-morning dentist appointment tomorrow, I'm off to the shore for a week and a half.  I may actually get something accomplished in the writing department while I'm there--the house my in-laws rent has a great deck to escape to for that.  But it's also possible that the call of copious reading material that I don't have to critique may be too strong to resist and cut into my writing time...which may not be such a bad thing.
babarnett: (doctor who happy face)
My writing isn't nearly as good as I thought it was.

Conversely, my writing doesn't suck nearly as much as I thought it did.

There are a lot of writing concepts that I didn't understand nearly as well as I thought I did.

I now have a serious arsenal of tools and insight with which to improve my writing.

There are a lot of good writers out there who haven't submitted their work yet, and it's a shame because there are a lot of grammatically challenged people who have.

Writing under the name B. A. Barnett has the unintended effect of making some people think of the A-Team's B. A. Baracus.

Galaxy Quest
is a brilliant movie.

Eating lots of chocolate may seem like a good means of procrastination and stress reduction, but unfortunately, your pants won't fit so well by week 6 of the workshop.

Fun is for the weak.

So is sleep.

You can't know your story's crap at 8 a.m.

The letter K is funny.

Chickens are even funnier.

There are a lot more chickens in Monty Python & the Holy Grail than I remembered.

Clown sex is disturbing.

It's surprisingly easy for multiple authors to litter their stories with references to bloodstained clovers.

Lists full of in-jokes will only be funny to those who are in on the joke.

I am Megatron!
babarnett: (Default)
Because all the cool kids are doing it, I've started an LJ.  Just don't expect me to post much until Odyssey's over and I can trust myself to be coherent.

One more blog = one more means of procrastination.  Damn you, fellow Odyssey classmates for talking me into this!  You know who you are.

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