The Wellspring Writing Workshop is an invite-only, peer-to-peer novel writing workshop. I ran this last year after attending S.K. Castle’s Starry Heaven workshop, which was in turn modeled after Charlie Finlay’s Blue Heaven Workshop. It’s a great format, and if you find yourself hankering for a workshop of your own, Charlie has a great writeup on it over at his site.
For the uninitiated, however, it’s a workshop in which (roughly) twelve writers descend on some unsuspecting community and together critique one another’s works, chat about the business, laugh, sometimes cry, and otherwise have a wonderful time hanging out with people who do what you do. This year, as was the case last year, we’re hanging out in Lake Geneva, WI. The name, Wellspring, btw, derives from the eponymous lake, which is spring-fed. Convenient since it makes such a cool name for a workshop!
During the first three days we critique each other’s first 50s. That is, the first 50 pages of their mss. This allows each author to get a really good idea of how their story is starting out. During the last three days we critique two other full mss, and we have our full mss critiqued by two others. This allows each of us to get a good idea of how the full novel holds up. It’s a great format that gives you a well rounded view of how your story works, and where it doesn’t, some good ideas for how to fix it. You also get great ideas for how to better read critically because you’ve critiqued work that others have as well, and where you see differences, you can then reflect and determine (a) if you agree with the criticism, and (b) if it’s a blind spot of yours you should keep an eye out for in the future.
Notice I didn’t say anything about reading. That’s because the reading all comes before the workshops itself. Well, ok, there are a few stragglers (including me, this year) who read into the days the workshop is running, but by and large the reading is done beforehand. That means that you’re doing weeks worth of work before you even arrive.
Notice also that I didn’t say anything about writing. We all have to turn in our mss before readers can, you know, read them. And that’s months of work (since this is a novel-writing workshop) to do ahead of time.
This is all to say that there is a metric shit-ton of work to do before the workshop starts. We’ve all put in a ton of work, and we’re all (at least I am) looking forward to this downtime and to feast on the fruits of our labor.
I’m bringing my third novel, The Flames of Shadam Khoreh. Everyone else is bringing something in the speculative fiction genre. It’s going to be great fun, and I’m very much looking forward to it. I’m off in a few minutes to pick up the first of the Wellspringers to arrive, one Stephen Gaskell, of Strata fame. The way I see it, the moment I do, the workshop has begun.
The crew this year are both varied and talented:
- Bradley P. Beaulieu
- Chris Cevasco
- Brenda Cooper
- Deborah Daughetee
- Stephen Gaskell
- Kameron Hurley
- Vincent Jorgensen
- Grá Linnaea
- Holly McDowell
- Eugene Myers
- Kelly Swails
- Gregory A. Wilson
See you all on the other side, where I’ll write up a wrap-up post and some thoughts for future Wellsprings.