Well, this is the second live blog from Milford. Finished critiquing this morning, ready for this afternoon's session. Also just finished a High Intensity Interval Training session which will hopefully displace some of the dietary excess of this week.
It's just occurred to me that random reader might not know what Milford involves. Basically, it's for writers of speculative fiction who have at least one professional sale under their belts. Each attendee can submit up to 15,000 words, either one or two pieces that can be novel excerpts or short stories. The critiquing sessions involve sitting in a big circle (see panorama above). Each person gets three minutes to offer comments on a story or novel portion, and the writer gets to respond at the end.
If this sounds nerve-wracking for delicate creative types, it can be. However, it's also a very useful learning exercise both for the critters and the victims. When critting you learn how to look at your own work in a different way, which makes self-editing better. When being critiqued you get a better idea of how a particular piece of work is going to be perceived. So it's useful from both ends.
This year, as I mentioned in the previous post, the standards have been intimidatingly high. I've had both of my pieces done, and gotten away fairly lightly, I think, with some fairly positive critiques. I think the process works when the comments direct you clearly towards things that need changing. It can, however be confusing if everybody offers contradictory advice. This year, however, it's been fairly clear what I need to change and I hope my comments have been helpful to others, too.
Critting is hard work. Below is me after a week's worth, early in the morning with probably too much stubble.
But in some ways I think the true value of Milford goes far beyond the critiques. Writing in the big, cruel allegedly real world can be a fairly lonely business. The primary thing I've got out of it is a sense of community, and affirmation that what I'm doing is worthwhile.
It's also wonderful to be around pretty smart people who are concerned with similar things to myself -- the way the world is going, the exploration of both inner and outer space, and our long-term survival as a species. Most of all, it's great to be around creatives who have enthusiasm for what they do. Anyway, blogger is playing up again and I'm going a bit cross eyed. Until next time!