A Brief Response to Uncle Orson…

Not to, per say, but more about… let me explain.  Uncle Orson is Orson Scott Card.  If you don’t have name recognition (especially if you are into SF/Fantasy) then you must be very pasty white living under that rock.  Have I read any of his fiction?  Admittedly, not yet.  But I have read his technique books on writing.  But there’s more story here…

Back in February, I was in Boston at Boskone, and one one of the vendor tables was a copy of OSC’s Characters & Viewpoint.  Having been advised that “depth of character” in some of my earlier projects (read – hurried short stories for college classes) was an issue (a mixed thought I’ll play with in a minute), I snatched it up. In March, I went to Stellarcon (near Greensboro, NC) with my friend Chris, and I hit the writer’s panels. Then went to the book launch party that Saturday night for How To Write Magical Words, edited by Edmund Schubert (who also edits OSC’s Intergalactic Medicine Show).  During the party we spoke briefly, but he introduced me to (aka – made me aware of) Uncle Orson’s Writer’s Boot Camp.

The Boot Camp is a weeklong session broken into two parts: a writing class/lecture for two days, open to anyone, and three days of workshopping for a select few.  With other plans I had in the works, I only signed up for the two day seminar.  Which is how I have spent my last two days, and why I am writing this.

I entered the class having earned both a BA & MA in Creative writing (and all of the baggage that comes with it).  There were moments of clarity sitting in the OSC class that flew in the face of most of what I had learned in all my years of (academic) writing classes, and they were liberating. Here’s why: I have always wanted to write, and needed the academic classes to introduce me to some of the concepts (at the time I was doing my BA, anyway; the MA was to get me back onto the horse and into a routine).  They were the closest thing to a writing community in my area. And academic classes are great for the mechanical techniques of writing, but there wasn’t a significant focus on discussing the story in a workshop. Workshop session usually devolve into flaws of handling a student’s work and (subconsciously) comparing it to everything else the reader has read in literature classes and filtering through the literature (interpretation) lens. It’s the story that’s the key, the writing is just the presentation.

As someone that wants to teach creative writing, but had become frustrated with the narrow field of vision that I noticed in academic settings, one of the best things for me was the shift in conceptual thinking, the clarity of how I would like to teach my courses.

The other reason the class was liberating: it is taught by an award winning, very much working author in a genre that I want to someday work in as well. That should be a no-brainer.

My thoughts on Uncle Orson’s Boot Camp? The writing session was definitely worth it.  Him as a person (for those that are curious)? Gracious, patient, and someone that I wouldn’t mind being just a little bit like when doing public events.

My response to Orson Scott Card: Thank you.

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