I attended Stephen Dedman’s SF workshop on ‘setting and world building’ today. It took place in the Midland Council chambers, just next to the library. Getting there was an adventure in itself, with stairs, auditoriums and twisting dark passages to attend to.
The actual workshop had fifteen-ish people there, which was a nice number, and given the size of the venue, a full house. Many familiar faces put me at ease, but highlighted a fact I had previously underestimated – the incestual nature of Australia speculative fiction.
Let me explain:
Aside from the fact nearly all of the regular KSP SF group were there, I took note of some very interesting relationships. Including Stephen, who came across as very down to earth while still sounding encyclopaedic, editors for Borderlands magazine (Stephen Dedman), Andromeda Spaceways Inflight magazine (Lyn Triffitt), Ticonderoga Online (Lyn and Lee Battersby) and Shadowed Realms (myself) were there. Four editors unofficially representing four of the biggest SF publications in Australia were present. Given there are only two or three more SF publications in Australia, I think the attendance was an excellent cross-section.
To compound the incestual nature, each one of the aforementioned writers has had submissions with, or stories published by, one of the others. In my case, I have stories currently with ASIM and Ticonderoga Online, and while a recent story was rejected from Borderlands, I have one coming out there soon (Hear No Evil). I must point out that professionalism (as best as possible) reigns. I’m just lucky I can maintain more impartiality with Shadowed Realms, as Angela does the dirty work (not to mention the applaudable stuff).
While I didn’t benefit tremendously from the actual content of the workshop (which may be more aimed at those closer to the start of their writing journey), I did gain from the networking, and a nice introductory chat to Stephen at the end of the workshop (whom I have never met before). Also, it was entertaining watching Stephen and Lee Battersby banter and compare notes. The two are definately cut from the same cloth (in a good way).
I have often wondered about tackling workshops myself in the future, but feel I’m not yet technically proficient enough. I do however yearn for a more specialised or proactive writers group, one where a group of writers have roughly the same direction, experience, talent etc. The KSP SF group is a good one, with a nice bunch of people, but the experience level, and even the interest (genre-wise) varies wildly. There’s only a couple of people with whom I share a common interest. Like the adage I have clung to about working above your ability to gain a promotion (a strategy that worked amazingly well at Centrelink, seeing me propel momentarily to the giddy heights of working with the National Employment Services manager on a project that affected the procedings of Parliament – can anyone say ‘breach’?), I feel I should be associating with writers of equal or greater talent and experience. There’s only a couple I know who I can say with honesty fit into this category.
While all this was happening, Ange and Hayley were taking Jacqui’s old combination bed/futon up to her new place. They even went bearing gifts – cute little dog-like plant/candle holders for Jacquie Lee’s birthday.
To cap off the day, one which also saw Hayley go to her work meeting for the Candy Cow (she’ll be working again at the Perth Royal Show there, dishing out showbags and fairy floss at the main Candy Cow store), we stopped in Midland for a pancake dinner. I braved something called a ‘Double dutch’ – a large pancake encrusted with bacon. It was different to say the least.
Now, I have to draft a letter to my old workmate (ette) and prepare to call Damien tomorrow. In the meantime, revved up by the workshop, I might squeeze out a few words of fiction.
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