Posts Tagged RMFW; Colorado Gold
Next week will mark one year of blogging on this site. I started with the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Conference, which must have been a week or two later in September last year. I rated MY experience at this conference last week, and I do want people to note that I blamed no one for my lack of networking. I do think two things, other than my personality, didn’t help. First, I didn’t stay Friday night. Last year I was there on Thursday night, too, and I did meet two or three new women. I did see these women this year and talked to one of them a bit. I could have given her a card. In fact, I should have, but I never thought about it. The other woman, who is a Facebook friend, I barely said hello to and I don’t think she recognized me or something. The second problem was my perception of the hotel layout. There wasn’t a place to sit that made for easy mixing between sessions.
Here is another take on the same conference from one of my critique partners: http://cryptictown.wordpress.com/2014/09/13/happy-thirtieth-colorado-gold/
We met at that first conference and she joined our nascent critique group. I mentioned in another post that that group has been meeting for twelve years, and I guess this means we’re going on our 13th. Two other members of that group were also at the conference. One had attended many times before and many times before we connected. The other member was a first time attendee. Each of them reported a positive experience as well. When the first-timer gets around to posting his blog on the conference, I’ll link to that as well.
I just completed my first online class through Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. I’ve taken online classes of various sorts before, two through Mid-American Review, another one or two through a large nationally known commercial writing school. This recent class was by far the most inexpensive and possibly the shortest in duration. The class, Heroes, Henchmen, and Sidekicks, presented by Angie Hodapp, was an expansion of a workshop she’d presented at the Colorado Gold conference in September. The class was just what I needed to spark my attempts at revising the mess of a novel I’d written a few years ago during NaNoWriMo.
At first I hadn’t been sure I wanted to spend time on an online course. The last one I’d taken had cost me something like six weeks take home pay and in the end I came away with little other than some praise from the leader. He called my novel “heartbreaking,” which I considered a good thing, but the rest of the class had been a waste of time, and, unfortunately, money. When I realized how little this RMFW class cost, though, I decided I might as well give it a go. It helped that another member of my writing group had also signed up.
As I say, overall I’m happy with the information presented and the spur it gave to my revision, but some other, more procedural or technical, aspects of the course just didn’t work for me. Every other course I’ve taken had a reasonably easy way to follow discussions, even if some of them took a bit of getting adjusted. This class utilized the yahoo platform, probably due to the availability and, I’m assuming, low (free) cost. I spend much of the first day or two trying to figure out the platform, and after some instruction by the leader and other class members, I could make some sense of the board. Still, it was very difficult to follow discussions, probably because other participates also didn’t know how to utilize the system, and because the workshop had something like 49 participants! Unwieldy on any platform, I suspect.
Elsewhere on this blog I’ve mentioned for me, a successful writing event, whether an online course, a workshop, or a retreat, is if I come away with a new writing friend, or contact. With the unwieldy number of participates in the course, it is understandable why this didn’t happen. It is hard to make connections when you can’t find the person you were originally talking to! Prior to sharing any writing, one of the other class members who lives in my immediate geographic area asked if I participated in a writing group. I told her the rudimentary details of WURDZ, gave her my email address, and heard nothing.
Another reason I did not forge a new friendship is that almost every other person seemed to be writing in a genre that I wasn’t. The predominate genre seemed to be fantasy, with historical fiction or YA the second most common category, and usually YA fantasy. Even though I may not have read every single introduction–hard to keep track when they appeared all over the place and days after the class started–I didn’t see a single “women’s fiction” writer. One other person said she wrote mainstream fiction, but after reading her first assignment, I suggested she might be writing more of a thriller, and since it usually seems easier to sell something if you can file it under a specific genre, maybe she should consider that.
Angie had mentioned doing a longer version of this course, and I think that would be helpful as cramming in six lessons in two weeks when you have to go to work, read material for your writing group, do your own writing, as well as live you usual life, is a bit much. Even though I more or less stopped writing down the lessons, I read over each and thought how I would use the information in my revisions.
For the time being, I’m toying with the idea of taking the next online class offered by RMFW–Editing and Revision for Fiction Writers. With decreased expectations of finding a like-minded writing companion, I might be freer to learn and enjoy. Possibly I’ll have a heads up on the class platform as well.
I’d be interested in hearing of online schools or classes you’ve participated in and what you felt you got out of them. Were they useful? Did you make writing friends? Please leave a comment, and check out the RMFW classes, too. One may be just right for you.
For me, one sign of a good workshop or conference is making a new friend. Pre-Internet I meet a woman at the first conference I attended, the Southwest Writers’ Workshop. We reconnected at the yearly conference. Between times we exchanged manuscripts. By the time email became the main mode of communication, we’d lost touch. She divorced and I don’t have enough information to find her again.
In 2008 I participated in an online writing workshop. The teacher suggested we join Facebook. So I did.At first my only friends were the other members of the group, as well as a friend’s daughter who felt sorry for me when I told her every time I opened the site it announced, “You have no new friends.” Probably those of us in the workshop were too busy critiquing and discussing on the workshop site. Side conversations were via email. When the workshop ended, a few of us kept in loose touch through Facebook. I met two of the workshop members at AWP in Denver. One of them, M.E. Parker is the founder of a well-received photography and writing journal, Camera Obscura. Even five years later I sometimes exchange critiques with another member.
I met at least four of my Facebook friends at a conference/retreat held at a dude ranch outside of Tucson. I’ve met up with two of them at other conferences and occasionally interact with them on Facebook. At this Springs’s Pike’s Peak Writers Conference I met a woman who became the newest member of our writing group. During the recent RMFW Conference I added three writers to my list of friends.
My most recent foray to a retreat yielded twitter contacts, no new friends. This small retreat was held in a lovely mansion hotel on Long Island. Meals were included and were served off a menu; not your usual banquet chicken! About eight years ago I attended another small workshop and thought I had not come away with any new contacts but last month I did reconnect with another participant at RMFW. Possibly somewhere down the line I will be in contact with some of the other writers from the Writing and Yoga Retreat. This event is sure to grow and include more participants in years to come.
The lack of a compatriot at this last retreat might have been, in part, due to the small size of this retreat. This was the initial foray of the two leaders into putting on a retreat. The likelihood of making friends might depend on a critical number of participants. The Tucson workshop had been small, too. There were 12-16 of us. I garnered four friends from that group. This last retreat had a mere five women, plus the two leaders. Three of the women were close in age and bonded easily. One of the other participants was related to one of the leaders, and both leaders were already friends. This left me as the outlier with no natural partner and although I am following or being followed by four of the six others, I feel each is a tenuous connection at best.
Not long ago I ran across an article, Whether Facebook Makes You Lonely Depends on How You Use It. I posted this on my wall and asked my friends which way they felt. Those who commented said happier. My response would be mixed. Probably the largest proportion of my contacts consists of high school classmates, whom I “collected” for a recent reunion. The rest are workmates, neighbors, a few people from college, my “real life” friends, and sundry others. Some posted often in the past but have either gotten bored and moved on or now interact with a select group that doesn’t include me. Many never comment or post status updates. A large number post only lost cats, recipes, photos of dogs, and quotes of others. Some are lurkers. A few routinely send holiday and birthday greetings and then sink back into the sand of anonymity. Possibly I shouldn’t expect more; this may be who they are in their everyday lives. Maybe this lack of interaction is related to differences in personality type, but I find the lack of response and interaction frustrating. Often it makes me unhappy and I wonder why I bother checking in.
But when it comes to my writing connections, I find Facebook both useful and entertaining. Many friends post interesting articles related to writers, writing, and publishing. Recently one acquaintance reviewed a book she found in a used bookstore that sounds right up my alley. I plan to look for it. I’ve asked for book recommendations and help with problems related to the mechanics of writing, computer glitches, and story concerns. I belong to at least one page that lists calls for submissions. My writing group created a private group to conduct our business. We’re currently doing our October short story writing month and sharing prompts.
Because of its usefulness to me as a writer, I’ll remain a dutiful user of Facebook until something better comes along. Google+? If you know of something, let me know, but until then, I hope to continue to expand my circle of writer-friends.