Monday, October 18, 2010

Vashon Island Novel Workshop

Yesterday ten writers and I met for an intense, day-long critique workshop on Vashon Island in Puget Sound. The only way to reach the island is by ferry, and we convoyed over there in four cars, early enough to watch the sun rise over the water. The workshop, organized by the tireless Leslie Howle and located at a friend's enormous gorgeous house, focused on the first 25 pages of ten different novels, all of which had been circulated in advance. Much coffee was drunk, much junk food consumed, much debate engaged in.

It was fun. Also exhausting. The day finished with a round-table discussion of publishing conditions: for science fiction versus fantasy, for YA, for on-line publications, for reader books, for print magazines, for traditional publishers. Then today I learned that another magazine of speculative fiction is closing. REALMS OF FANTASY is being shut down by publisher Warren Lapine, who says he has tried everything he can to make the magazine profitable and has failed, for which he blames a bad economy. REALMS is, he says, for sale for $1 to "a responsible purchaser."

The conclusion reached at the Vashon Island workshop -- and it hardly merits the name "conclusion" -- is that no one knows how publishing will take shape over the next twenty years. Meanwhile, aspiring writers write. Some notable quotes from the critique sessions:
  • "I want a moyle just like the moyle that brissed my dear old dad."
  • "In a novel, I'm willing to give an author a whole page before the violence begins."
  • "There's a lot of meat here but not much potatoes. You need more potatoes."


Lou said...

The "you need more potatoes" comment sounds like YOU, Nancy...'fess said that, right?

Nancy Kress said...

I did not, no. I don't usually use vegetable metaphors :)