The Never-Ending Odyssey (TNEO) is an invitation-only, eight-day workshop exclusively for Odyssey graduates. Started in 1998, this unique program allows writing professionals and near-professionals with the shared background of Odyssey to work together to improve their skills. As we all know, the journey to become the best writers we can be is a lifelong one. If we don't constantly challenge ourselves to learn new techniques, to gain deeper insight into the elements that give fiction power, to push beyond what we have done before, then our work stagnates and dies. TNEO is designed to help writers expand and deepen their skills.
As more and more Odyssey graduates build successful writing careers for themselves, the level of writing, discourse, and critiquing at TNEO continues to grow more advanced. Your fellow graduates truly form a great resource for you.
As director, I oversee all aspects of the workshop, including the schedule, curriculum, activities, organization, and facilities.
- four-hour workshopping sessions held in the mornings
- a Master Class on a particular element of fiction held in the afternoons. Each year, we'll focus on a different element, such as plot, point of view, characterization, and so on. Odyssey graduates will provide advanced, graduate-level lectures on various aspects of this element, along with exercises and activities
- a bonus lecture by me
- daily writing hours
- read-aloud sessions
- a brainstorming session, novel synopsis critique session, and Barnes & Noble story slam
- on several evenings, the TNEO Salon Fantastique will be open for writing discussions, story dissections, and relaxing
I participate in the workshop alongside you rather than teaching it. Instead, I work closely with an Odyssey graduate who serves as moderator.
Erica Hildebrand, the TNEO Resident Supervisor, provides logistical support and serves as general problem-solver.
TNEO is a week of hard work that embodies what Odyssey is all about: the lifelong journey toward becoming the best writer you can be. You can come together with your peers in fellowship to discuss writing, to learn, to share insights, to commiserate, to encourage, to laugh, and to improve
Dates: TNEO is generally held the last full week in July, starting on a Friday (the final day of Odyssey) and continuing for eight days until the next Saturday.
Arrival: Check-in usually begins around 3 PM Friday. All participants must arrive by 7:30 PM for the joint Odyssey/TNEO mixer.
Departure: Attendees should plan to leave by 2 PM Saturday afternoon.
TNEO participants are expected to attend all workshopping sessions and master-class sessions. If you will be unable to attend some sessions, you must discuss this with the moderator before enrolling.
You are also expected to provide professional-level written and verbal critiques on all submissions of those in your group. Written critiques should be more advanced, sophisticated, and in-depth than those you did at Odyssey. Concrete, specific observations and extensive line edits are expected on every work. Feedback should be truthful and helpful.
We usually split participants into three critique groups: the Short Story Group, the Regular Novel Group, and the Extended Novel Group. The Short Story Group and Regular Novel Group each contain 7-14 people, and the Extended Novel Group contains 4-8 people.
Short Story Group & Regular Novel Group: Each participant may submit three stories or novel excerpts. The total length of all three submissions cannot exceed 15,000 words.
Extended Novel Group: Each participant may submit three novel excerpts. The total length of your first two submissions cannot exceed 30,000 words. For your third submission, you may submit the remainder of your novel, up to a length of 80,000 words.
Manuscripts must be turned in before TNEO begins, because participants need to critique some, if not all, of the submissions ahead of time. We will be workshopping three or four submissions per day (as opposed to two on most days at Odyssey), so if you want to eat or sleep during TNEO, you need to get most of your critiquing done in advance. Most TNEO participants complete all of their critiquing ahead of time and have a much more enjoyable and useful week because of that.
Failure to meet one of the submission deadlines means a participant foregoes the opportunity to have one story/novel excerpt critiqued. All deadlines will be firmly enforced. Deadlines are usually around these dates:
- First submission due: April 12
- Second submission due: May 12
- Third submission due: June 10
All attendees are required to submit at least one piece. Submissions should not be first drafts; they should be as strong as you can make them on your own, so you can profit the most from the feedback you receive. So get writing! [Insert whip crack here. :) ]
All TNEO participants have the option of submitting, in addition, a novel synopsis. Novelists are strongly encouraged to do so, since the Novel Synopsis Critique Session should provide them important insights that may not be possible in the regular critique sessions. The synopsis is due MAY 12 and must be under 2,000 words.
HOUSING AND FACILITIES:
TNEO is held at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, NH, one of the top liberal arts colleges in New England, which has a beautiful campus. Workshopping sessions and lectures are held in air-conditioned classrooms, and we have access to the air-conditioned computer lab, library, cafeteria, and coffee shop. Food can be purchased on an item-by-item basis, just as at Odyssey.
You should check with the moderator for information on housing, since it may vary from year to year. Usually, TNEO participants are housed in two-bedroom apartments on campus at Benedict Court. Benedict Court is made up of buildings #34-38 on the campus map. They are not air conditioned, but they have 1 1/2 baths, an eat-in kitchen with stove and oven, a living room, and high-speed Internet connections. Each participant will receive a linen package that includes sheets, a pillow, pillowcase, blanket, hand towel, and bath towel.
For those who prefer more luxurious (and air-conditioned) accommodations, we reserve a block of rooms at the Hampton Inn & Suites. TNEO participants should ask for the special Odyssey discounted rate.
If you plan to arrive at TNEO a day before the workshop begins or stay a day after, you may stay at the Hampton Inn & Suites at the special rate.
Also, if you have someone dropping you off or picking you up, that guest may stay at the hotel at the discounted rate. As in previous years, no guests are allowed to stay in the college housing.
If you have any questions regarding Saint Anselm College, please contact the moderator or me, not the college.
If you are interested in attending and you have not received an invitation from me, or you have lost your invitation, you may contact me for more information. The enrollment deadline is usually around MARCH 28.
Shortly after the enrollment deadline, you'll be informed whether you will be in a single or double room. We'll do our best to accommodate your requests.
Unlike Odyssey, which charges separate fees for the workshop and housing, TNEO combines these into a single fee. In addition, the TNEO fee includes our opening night dinner and our closing night dinner. The costs change each year, but as an example, the costs in 2011 were as follows:
- $660 for a double room
- $520 for a single room
- $380 if you plan to live off-campus
Once the moderator informs you whether you'll be in a single or double room, you should submit payment. Checks should be made out to Odyssey and sent to P.O. Box 75, Mont Vernon, NH 03057 by APRIL 12.
Attending TNEO is a great way to gain new insights and perspectives on your writing, to build new momentum, and to make some great friendships. To get the most out of TNEO, you need to begin planning--and writing--now. Those deadlines aren't far away.
I hope to be seeing you and reading your latest work this summer!