A Watershed Experience
When I arrived at Odyssey in 1998, I was in a rut. I knew my writing wasn’t all it could be, but I had no clue how to improve. In the final week of the workshop, Jeanne said one thing to me that changed my writing forever: “Your rewrites are so much better!”
I realized that before coming to Odyssey, I’d never rewritten anything beyond changing a few sentences around. At Odyssey I had the space and time to throw out entire drafts and start over. This was a skill I had to learn, right alongside plot and grammar.
I’m not sure I would have had that shining moment of epiphany without one instructor, Jeanne, following my writing for six weeks. She noticed the pattern in my writing and ultimately pointed out that I’d been missing an essential step all along: dismantling the first draft and reassembling it into an actual story.
I learned what makes the difference between a merely adequate story and an outstanding one. Best of all, I learned how to analyze my own stories for those qualities, and I gained a toolbox of skills in plot, characterization, narrative, etc. that let me begin to truly craft my stories, instead of just spewing onto the page. I learned to not be afraid to start over.
I made my first pro sale less than a year after attending Odyssey. Since then, my stories have appeared in Realms of Fantasy, Weird Tales, Talebones, Polyphony 1, and Sword and Sorceress XVII. I’ve received honorable mentions in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror and The Year’s Best Science Fiction. My story “In Time” (Talebones 21) was named one of the year’s best for 2001 by Tangent Online. I’m a member of SFWA.