Monday, April 2, 2012

The Written World

In October of 2006, I attended the Viable Paradise Workshop for Science Fiction and Fantasy writers. I knew it would change my life as a writer, but I had no idea just how tremendously it would do so. I had attended workshops before; in fact, I'd become a devoted "dollbaby" years earlier, through a now-defunct workshop called Side Trips for Women. While it had opened up my solitary world of writing in a void, it wasn't life-changing. Having writer-friends was a huge thing for me, but writing fantasy among mainstream fiction writers is like being the duck in a room full of chickens. We all had feathers, but we were different birds.

Then came Viable Paradise*.

I was an X-man, it being the tenth year of the workshop. The mentors that year were Teresa Neilsen Hayden, Patrick Neilsen Hayden, James Macdonald, Debra Doyle, Steven Gould, Laura Mixon, James Patrick Kelly, and Cory Doctorow. Quite the lineup of superstars in the field--one and all. That was also the year Steve's Jumper was being made into a movie, and Cory was winning, or had already won, every honor his peers had to bestow. I was nervous, but excited. Not just a week with such mentors, but with peers! Fantasy and science fiction writing peers.

It made all the difference. I was a duck with other ducks! I didn't have to explain why worldbuilding was necessary to the story, or that suspension of belief is part of the game. We truly were birds of a feather. The friends I made there remain dear to me now. Bonds made in battle are the bonds that stay strong--yes, I said battle. Not as foes, but as comrades; for something, not against anything.

That path continued unwinding in new and amazing ways. Because of VP, I met sister in Heroines of Fantasy, Kim Vandervort (who attended VP the year after I did.) And because I met Kim, I became aware of Hadley Rille Books. And because of her experience with Eric Reynolds, I knew HRB was the place for me. I wrote Finder knowing I would send it to Hadley Rille. I did. Eric accepted it. It was a wild ride! And in November of 2010, my book released out into the world.

Further along that path, and several months after releasing my book with HRB, Eric asked if I would be one of his editors. I'd already sub-edited four novels for him. "Let's make this official," he said, and we did. I've been one of the fantasy editors with Hadley Rille books for a little over a year. My first solo edit, The Poets of Pevana, releases in June, 2012. I have two more books I'm helping into the world for 2012; and my second novel, A Time Never Lived releases in May. Busy me.

I've sat on panels at conventions. I've done book signings, and spoken to writers' groups. I've pulled some excellent novels out of the slush, and had to reject more than I'd like to admit. I've met some of my favorite authors, and after blathering nonsensically, was treated as a peer, not a wannabe. I am imbued with all sorts of writerly goodness. And, as it all started with Viable Paradise, it's only fitting that it comes full circle--I'll be heading up to Martha's Vineyard this October to work as staff for the workshop, carting, cooking, and generally working myself to exhaustion, and I will love every moment of it.

The written world is an amazing one, but one that requires action. It doesn't just happen, but it can feel that way when the right steps are taken. And take them you must! My journey certainly isn't typical. I don't claim to be a superstar of the genre; but I do have a place in my own small corner of this written world, and it's exactly where I want to be.

How about you? Are you there yet? Are you ready to leap onto your path? It begins when you take that first step. Ready. Set. Go.

*Viable Paradise is now open for submissions, and closes at the end of June.


Diana Munoz Stewart said...

Love this! Thanks, Terri-Lynne!

Karin Rita Gastreich said...

What a fun post, Terri!

I've heard many great things about VP, from you and other participants. In my case, I was able to find birds of the same feather through my writers groups; and later, of course, through HRB.

Even now, one of my first recommendations to aspiring writers is to find a writers group. I suppose I shall have to start telling them to apply to VP, as well!

Terri-Lynne said...

Karin--it was mind-blowing. Just ask Diana! :)

Mark Nelson/ Pevanapoet1 said...

"And what a strange, wild trip it has been." One of the coolest parts of going through the editing process with Terri was finding another mind who understood how I saw words. For much of my life, words have been a personal, limited experience. I shared my verse and stories with a treasured few. I never seriously considered trying to find a wider audience.

And then I had a scary surgery, came out of it much better than I expected, and realized it was time to find out one way of the other. The result: a tight little book of coolness that I hope is unique, two others done and ready for polish and a fourth planned for drafting this summer.

Life is good as a Poet of Pevana...

And I will attend my first full on geek convention this May in Kansas City. If things go as I hope, there are several writing workshops here in the PNW that look promising for next year.

Heck yeah. "Words, words, words...they are all we have to go on..."

Terri-Lynne said...

Mark--a cool and magical connection through words. That's us! It's what I love about editing--finding that voice, honing it, finding ways to have YOU pull it out and make it shine. I love being your editor. I truly do.

Karin Rita Gastreich said...

I'm looking forward to meeting you at ConQuest, Mark. It's going to be a fun weekend.