What I did on my summer vacation at L. Ron Hubbard's Writers and Illustrators of the future 27th annual workshop:
Flying out to Hollywood and meeting the other writers and illustrators, all really wonderful people who wrote what I wrote and dreamed the same dreams, was a moving experience for me. I made more friends last week than I had in the past 30 years. I'll never forget them (or let them forget me--be warned).
The instructors, K.D. Wentworth and Tim Powers were amazing. We hit the ground running, and I learned more in the first day than I could have at any other workshop.
I loved reading the articles by L. Ron Hubbard. Although they were written decades ago, they're so insightful and well done that they seem as if they were written by one of the contemporary masters of science fiction. "Magic out of a Hat" was my favorite article, because it showed me that ideas are everywhere. Everything and anything can be world changing, pivotal, interesting.
I thought I might not be able to do the 24 hour story, especially since my item was a rock, but the level of excitement and creativity surging through the workshop was infectious. I used that rock as the
story's problem, its prize; I put the main character between a rock and a hard place, and made the oppositional character as stubborn as a rock. I even named one of the characters Rox. I really rocked that story, and it made me feel as if I could write anything.
Meeting the judges, all those famous writers who were there just to speak with us, made me feel as if this really was something very special. Kevin J. Anderson, Mike Resnick, Robert Sawyer, Eric Flint,
Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Tim Powers, K.D. Wentworth, and so many more that I thought my head was going to explode--wow!
I almost cried when we did the big reveal and I got to see the illustration for my story. The emotional impact of seeing how another person interprets the random scribbling in my head was really powerful.
My words evoked a place, a character, an entire world that someone else could see and feel. My illustrator, Ryan Downing, really captured the main character's fear, while still keeping the feel of who she was, the walking billboard, the Shimmy girl--and he made it look sexy.
We got to meet some of the winners from recent years: Eric James Stone, Ken Scholes, Laurie Tom, Jordan Lapp, and several others. All had exciting writing projects in the works, and every one of them treated me as if I could do that too.
Jordan Lapp was nice enough to share his illness. A professional writer finally gave me something, yea!
I had my reservations about getting on stage, I think we all did, but everyone was so wonderful and professional that they got us through it--and we actually looked good.
The book signing was surreal. I have a picture where I'm signing books right beside Larry Niven. LARRY NIVEN! His books were my major inspiration to begin writing. The worlds he created made me feel
real wonder--and there we are, signing the same volume of L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future, Volume XXVII together.
People kept coming up to me and asking how was the best way to enter and win this contest. In reply, I asked them if they'd read all the anthologies. Most said a few, some said just one. I was baffled. I'd read every single volume, and I would have read them all even if I'd never planned to enter (and win) the contest. The stories are amazing, so vastly different yet so well written. Anyone who reads Fantasy or Science Fiction should pick up these books.
It was difficult for me to feel as if I really deserved this, but from the very beginning Joni Labaqui (and everyone at Author Services and Galaxy Press) treated me like I belonged here, like I was the important
The radio play of the Invaders by L. Ron Hubbard on the last night was like frosting on a cupcake. I love the pulps, and seeing such a well done and classic tale so cleverly voiced was a real bonus. I think I
woke up a few times in the middle of the night still clapping.
Overall, this was the one moment. No matter what happens from this point forward I will always remember this week, this workshop, this dream. Thank you.