I went with the express intent of participating in A.C. Crispin’s (Ann) writing workshop and getting a critique from her on my manuscript. Going in with low expectations helps – most of the teaching part of the workshop was stuff I’ve heard in my eight skillion years of English education. (Show don’t tell, learn the difference between lay and lie, and don’t pester a book agent if she’s tossing her cookies in the restroom – that’s bad.) Ann is, however, very knowledgable about the industry and about her craft and spending time with her was like hanging out with your kooky aunt who has grand stories about her safaris in the Congo and sometimes gives you a really good present (when she remembers).
The workshop ran two days from 9-5 with an hour for lunch. The intent was for Ann to comment on our work in class but that never happens so she ends up scheduling time with people over the course of the weekend. I ended up meeting her with two other workshoppers at 8:30 am Saturday morning. As we stood in the lobby of the Hyatt, streams of fabulously dressed people went by, preparing for the big costume parade. Ann bustled down from upstairs and shepherded us up to a suite on the 22nd floor. I don’t know who all the people were in there but there was a phenomenal breakfast laid out for them! The four of us ended up on the balcony for the critique of the first work.
We went inside for the second one. I had actually read the story and provided the author a typed sheet of comments which he’d brought with him AND which Ann asked to see. She agreed with my comments, which was good, but then…she kept asking for my input on the rest of the critique. AWKward. Next, I ended up following her to her hotel room then down to her next workshop class so she could give me her critique. She didn’t tell me anything I didn’t know about and I have a good idea of how to fix the manuscript. She did not, I was happy to notice, comment on style, language, or grammar, rather she focused on the content and storytelling which is a win for me. I think I got what I came for.
The aftermath of the workshop has been entertaining to say the least. Someone in the group set up a Yahoo forum for us to share work and keep in touch and continue commenting. Throughout our workshop, Ann kept talking about the workshop group from 2001 – about half are published now and one has won a Nebula award. There are a few folks from my class who have their Underoos in a bunch because they feel they didn’t get much out of the workshop so they’re bowing out of continued correspondence, but I think there is a lot of potential in the class and I hope we continue to work together.
The rest of the Con was…overwhelming. I’m not one to feel claustrophobic but walking through a sea of people like that was unnerving to say the least. Husband, however, was one happy clam as he participated in several tracks of his interests. I think the best part was visiting one of my college roommates whom I had not seen in years. She and Husband got along famously and I hope to return to Atlanta for a more Atlanta-oriented visit soon.