Wednesday, December 8, 2010

So, A Funny Thing Happened To Me On The Way Home From Work Last Night

I came across this bunch of roving misfits:

From left to right: Tom Crosshill, Rajan Khanna, Kris Dikeman,
Matthew Kressel, K. Tempest Bradford, David Mercurio Rivera,
Alaya Dawn Johnson, Nora Jemisin, Paul Berger, Devin Poore.

Actually, this is the Altered Fluid Writer's Group -- the folks who agreed to critique a recent short story of mine in return for favors of a demeaning nature out of the kindness of their hearts. What's cool is that they meet up in an office building just one city block north of my own office, so the walk over took me all of 1.5 minutes! You may recall I won a guest spot with them via the KGB Fantastic Fiction raffle back in October, which I gushed about in this blog entry.

Well, as you can see I lived to blog another day. It was truly an honor to get my ass handed to me, critique-wise, by this group of supremely talented writers -- some of whom I've been a big fan of for years! Gosh, I don't think words alone can explain how much fun I had spending over an hour putting one of my latest stories--"Beethoven's 10th"--through the proverbial ringer. It might not sound like fun to some, but you have to understand how much I crave constructive criticism on my work. Every story of mine to see publication has only done so after first going through a lengthy and harrowing crit process. What this tells me as a writer, and what I knew going into the meeting last night, was that my stories always need a lot of work in the initial stages. And that, when I am receptive to the suggestions being thrown my way by other writers, my stories cannot help but change for the better as a result.

I have a lot to think about in terms of where to take this story in the rewrite stage to follow. Of course, I am in the middle of writing my first novel, as well as mulling over not just one but TWO "big ideas" for short stories that are begging me to hurry up and write them already.

For now the novel takes priority until I reach a natural break point (which should be at the end of the month) during which I can focus on other writing. I think I'll write out one of the two new ideas first (a sub 5000-word short, tentatively titled "How I Spent My Summer As A New York City Taxi Cab") straight off the bat, since that is the story idea I currently can't stop thinking about. Afterwards, I'll try the rewrite of "Beethoven's 10th," including a most probable title change. If I have time before resuming the novel, I'll write out the 2nd of my nifty new story ideas. That one will most likely be a dystopian short story, also under 5k, with a horror/alien body snatchers twist at the end.

Yes, I know what you're thinking: aren't you biting off too much at once? And I can see why you'd think that. But, really, this is the way my mind works best. I compartmentalize the projects I work on, so that one doesn't bleed over into the other. I'm going to need a break of about 4 - 6 weeks from the novel anyway, so that I can research Eastern Christian Orthodoxy, which I think should be more than enough time to work on some short stories in the interim.

So, all-in-all I have to say meeting everyone at Altered Fluid paid off in a HUGE way. It got me thinking about how to make my story a whole lot better, and yet didn't send me running home to curl up in a ball, crying. That's a win-win right there by my standards.

Lisa was so cute about it, though. After I came home and crawled into bed, she said to me:

"I kept worrying all day long, hoping that they would be nice to you."

I told her "nice" doesn't enter into the factoring, but that, yes, they actually were very good to me. Too good, in fact. It's sweet that she worried, though. I guess she picked up on the fact that this experience meant a lot to me.

To all you guys over at AF . . . thank you, thank you, THANK YOU so much! For the record, you guys rock hard!!! Hopefully I'll see most, if not all, of you around at KGB.


Kim Kasch said...

Sounds wonderful and isn't that like a wife to worry...

I love my critique partners.

David Batista said...

Yes, Kim. Ain't it, though. :)

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