|Front Row (bottom)||Michael Glyde; Erin Roberts; Leslie Starr O’Hara; Anami Sheppard|
|Second Row (from bottom)||Jon Hurwitz; Elise Forier Edie; Chloie Piveral; Cara DiGirolamo|
|Third Row (from bottom)||Odyssey Director Jeanne Cavelos; Gregory Baum; Golden Baker; Bridget Norquist|
|Back Row (top)||Writer-in-Residence Kij Johnson; Steve Mathys; Ian Muneshwar; Learned Foote; Brian Lynch|
|Photo taken by Resident Supervisor Olivia Do|
You want to come to Odyssey? You do? But are you ready?
Odyssey required six weeks of complete humility, energy, creativity, but gave so much back in terms of insight, strength and positivity. I believe that Jeanne has not only opened amazing doors of skill, but also doors to self-confidence and to realms of possibility. There is no limit to the gratitude I owe her, and I hope I can go on to show my gratitude by implementing all of the things she taught me and continuing to grow as a writer.
The lectures and the workshop act as a perfect complement to each other: the former emphasizes best practices and professional wisdom; the latter emphasizes experimentation and reader response. These two vehicles for knowledge helped me puzzle through this whole writing thing.
Odyssey is the first time I’ve been around writers who love what I love and love to read. My bachelor’s degree is in Creative Writing. I’ve taken five workshop classes. But none of my college workshops taught me nearly as much as Odyssey has because Jeanne and the other writers are so dedicated to craft.
I’ve attended a number of writing workshops, some similar to this one and some very different, but I can already say with confidence that Odyssey has been one of the defining moments in my writing career. Every year Jeanne assembles a diverse, passionate group of students who make the workshop a transformative experience.
Working with Jeanne is a unique privilege; she is the program’s heart and runs the workshop with a keen editorial eye while still being open to all of the new ideas and voices that come into the critique circle. Attending Odyssey was a joy in my life, and was an experience that will, I’m sure, continue to shape the course of my life in writing.
I came to Odyssey having written, but not considering myself to be a writer. Now I do. Jeanne and our guest lecturers have given me the tools I needed to take my writing to a higher level, and my amazing creative classmates have given me a community to belong to and a level of quality to aspire to.
Odyssey feeds your brain, of course, but what I didn’t know was how it lifts your spirits, touches your heart, and broadens your experience. I’m a better writer for having been at Odyssey, and probably a better person. One writer to another, if you have the opportunity to be a part of this, absolutely absolutely take it. And enjoy.
This was, by far, one of the most helpful and transformative experiences I’ve had as a writer. Jeanne is a tough, knowledgeable, and supportive teacher who knows our genre and offers feedback that helps us to become better editors of our own work.
I am leaving Odyssey feeling like I’ve been given the keys to the kingdom–writing good fiction is still hard–but I now have the tools to be able to challenge myself and improve. I would recommend this workshop to any dedicated SFF or horror writers who take their craft seriously. After working hard at this on your own for a while, you can hit a wall. Odyssey not only helps you to scale it, but to recognize that you are in good company while you do it. I anticipate staying in close touch with my fellow Odyssey people and will continue to learn from them and the amazing professionals in our field. .
Elise Forier Edie
Odyssey is a complete, well-organized, and rigorous introduction to speculative fiction writing. Jeanne Cavelos is a superb teacher and every aspect of the workshop has been designed to stimulate critical thinking while encouraging creativity, risk, and innovation.
I cannot express how phenomenal Jeanne is as a teacher, editor, and supportive force. As hard as I worked here at Odyssey, I always knew Jeanne was working harder. Her evil genius came into play as this inspired me to spend every last drop of my energy and resources on my writing and the writing of my peers. That turns out to be an amazing and deep gift for my career as a writer. I leave Odyssey grateful to Jeanne and utterly committed to my continuing journey as a developing writer.
Odyssey was worth every rigorous minute. I gained so much: a better understanding of craft, the critical skills to drive future improvement, and a new network of like-minded writers I know I can rely on for support and constructive critiques.
I recommend it to anybody who’s driven, capable, and willing to work hard–Jeanne changed my entire approach to writing, top to bottom. The value of her perspective is absolutely staggering.
Odyssey was the perfect place to learn how to become the kind of writer I want to be.
Odyssey is the single best thing I’ve done for my writing. The program is rigorous and empowering and offers the most comprehensive introduction to creative writing and fantastic fiction that I can imagine. Jeanne is brilliant: she is encouraging and thoughtful and she has an outstanding ability to analyze and conceptualize stories and to share those insights with students. I cannot recommend Odyssey highly enough.
Leslie Starr O'Hara
Odyssey Writing Workshop is the wizards’ academy of speculative fiction. If you aspire to study that arcane art, and if you can muster the tireless dedication necessary to learn it, you’ll find no better training than under the tutelage of Jeanne Cavelos. Through rigorous instruction and deep practice, you’ll learn the enchantments and spells to imbue your fiction with powerful magics, to make your stories live on the page and in the minds of readers. The friendships you conjure with your fellow apprentices will form the cornerstone of your career. When your six weeks at the academy draw to an end, you will leave empowered, inspired, completely exhausted, but forever altered. Now the Odyssey begins.
Odyssey opened up new dimensions of the writing life I hadn’t known existed. As I leave after six weeks I will be thinking about four things: craft, critiquing, community, and experimentation.
Craft: Jeanne shows all the tools in the writer’s kit: POV, setting, characterization, etc. My understanding of each tool went from intellectual abstraction to practical engagement. Before, I’d learn a tool and toss my first attempt into a story, ill-equipped to judge if I’d used it correctly. At Odyssey, I saw fifteen people learning to use the same set of tools: learned what worked, what didn’t, and how something that didn’t work could be improved.
Critiquing: When I submitted my first story, I had no idea what the strengths and weaknesses of my fiction were. If you’d asked me, I’d have answered with abstractions that missed the point. Ninety percent of what my classmates said to me about my first story was a surprise. Six weeks later, that’s all changed. I’ve written dozens of critiques of my peers, spent untold hours thinking about what works and what doesn’t. By my last story, I predicted 90% of what my classmates said, and I had a plan to fix the weaknesses they pointed out (and a few that only I, as the author, caught).
Community: An incredible opportunity to build relationships, both with peers and established professionals. The support network of fifteen people going through the same troubles as you works wonders. Sleepy mornings, caffeinated afternoons, sleepless nights–and at the end of all that time together, your classmate turns in a manuscript that astonishes and delights you. It’s wonderful to spend so much time working alongside people and still be thoroughly surprised at their stories. Wow! You hid that in your head the whole time?
Experimentation: Jeanne told us at the beginning not to fear failure so long as we tried. Aside from the grueling submission schedule (one story a week!), we produced dozens of fragments, scenes, plot outlines: all experimenting with new techniques. The “deep practice” Jeanne espouses is something I want to continue to push my skills as a writer, to grow and not languish, to try new things.
Odyssey has been a fantastic experience! I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to push their writing further than it’s ever gone in a supportive and professional and inspirational environment.
Memorable Quotes from the Class of 2015
“May your holes be deep, may your crocodiles be long, and may your jellyfish always fit in their cages!”
–Odyssey 2015 Toast
“I’m feeling that jelly fish, hard.”
“Can I retaliate?”
“I have a million wolf stories. And many more inside me.”
“It’s like it takes care of the vast plane of nothingness from the beginning. You’re so stupid for thinking this was stupid.” *Explodes*
“The One Ring is like Middle-Earth’s telephone.”
“Hello? I’m the bad guy.”
“Her hard creases are talking to her!”
“What’s our adverb quota, Jeanne?”
“You put the chasm in sarcasm.”
–Erin to Greg
“Chloie wins most dangerous, she has a black belt. Cara comes in second.”
“I’m hanging out with Starr, she’s got the guns.”
“There are too many zombies in my life.”
“My mind palace has an open floor plan.”
“We don’t even de-scale our fish. Just bite into it like an apple.”
“Dinosaurs are a gateway drug.”
“I just love the matryoshka dolls of darkness.”
Erin: “My face is never evil.”
Learned: “There’s a whole character arc on your face. ”
“It was so good my glasses fogged.”
“I drink more and sleep less than I did in my twenties.”
“People in college are stupid.”
“Every year we will pick two of our number to feud.”
“I think we need a recapitulation meter.”
Steve: “Yeah there’s a sad-ometer, Jon will explain it to us.”
Jon: “It’s in metric, I don’t think you’ll understand.”
Brian: “Bringing out the America burn.”
Mike: “And on our birthday, too [the 4th of July].”
Anami: “There’s an ice horse in your bed.”
Bridget: “It’s a sushi horse.”
Erin: “That sounds awful and delicious.”
Jon: “At this point I had to force myself to read.”
Erin: “What, like with a prod?”
“Thundermonk and the Mantle of Uncertainty!”
“The 27-minute nap.”
“The magic exceeded my magic budget.”
“I’m getting past that layer of dazzlement.”
“I trusted the reader a little too much.”
“A large jellyfish in a small cage.”
“I want to talk about your jellyfish.”
Chloie: “Anything can become a sexy costume.”
Starr: “Sexy Spongebob.”
“There’s an implication with the donuts.”
“Stopping yourself from writing erotica is the hard part–so to speak.”
Jennifer Jackson: “Why would your protagonist steal candy from a baby?”
Greg: “It’s an evil baby.”
“That baby was a dick.”
“Totally gory and delightful.”
“I loved your story a lot…until page 15.”
“I feel totally confused about him in an awesome way.”
“I loved the pain descriptions. I didn’t know there were that many ways to say ‘ow.'”
“I wanted it to be rooted in some kind of dentist mythology.”
“It felt like you yadda yadda yadda’d the good parts.”
“I love watching horrible people do horrible things.”
“Her sparkly gift.”
“If that were a book I would buy it and cherish it and put it under my pillow each night.”
“I don’t see her going for anything a cat would go for.”
“The tooth fairy is my favorite fairy.”
“I was pleasantly horrified at the end.”
“Go for it! But make it sexy.”
“He was topazed.”
“I would like more of a sense that you are building to the zag.”
“I think if you’re a demon you know what that is.”
“I superimposed a full moon on the story.”
“I felt like it needed a super-crazy read.”
“Slipstream always has to make a mad sense..”
“I don’t forgive people who bury me in walls.”
“This was a weird story. I don’t remember writing it.”
“This is going to sound a lot like Jon. That’s not a bad thing.”
“It’s inflected by this grub moment.”
“Bigger, better, drunker.”
“I will never not laugh at butt jokes.”
“A fairy, a bird, and a human? That would be…diverse.”
“It feels like atmospheric James Joyce.”
“I want them to be horses.”
“And then die die die die die!”
“I couldn’t tell if this was pinkeye or Ebola.”