Boot Camp was an absolutely unforgettable experience. Even now that it's done I'm in a sort of awe that I was able to attend it, to take this big step towards something that I'm excited about and really care about. It would be impossible to enumerate everything that I took away from it, but there are some big things.
The workshop opened my eyes in a new way to the process
of writing. There was a lot of technical material—things like point of view, exposition, story structure—that was a good refresher for me, but it was stuff that I was already familiar with. OSC helped me take a step back and look at the end to end process for coming up with a story.
I need to be more rigorous about asking the creative questions—"Why?" and "What result?"—so that I'm never satisfied with the first idea that comes to me, the one that's certain to be a cliche. I discovered the value in getting feedback earlier in the creative process (since normally I don't like talking about a story until I'm done writing it, at which point it's a lot harder to actually make changes based on feedback). Tough as it is, I need to stop thinking about words
, and instead just tell the story
. I've never been good at suppressing my inner editor. On the flip side, I need to remember that those creative questions don't end when I've finished my outline and start writing; every moment in the story can be a springboard for interesting new possibilities.
And then there's the skill of looking at a rough draft and figuring out what it needs to become, like Michelangelo seeing his sculpture in the raw stone. That's not a skill I've mastered yet, but I've seen OSC do it and I know what is possible. I figure that's the first step towards getting there.
Besides these matters of craft, the other huge thing I got out of Boot Camp was the friendships. Writing has always been a solitary art for me, and even when I've gotten critiques it's been through the relative anonymity of the internet. I'm far from an extrovert. Yet this experience wrought a camaraderie—born of shared suffering, no doubt—that meant I was comfortable sitting down with any of the Boot Campers, at any time of the day or night, and chatting about whatever. These are great people: brilliant, funny, creative, insightful. I expect that their encouragement and their thoughtful criticism will be greatly helpful to me as I continue to write. (Or at the very least I'll get to say, "I knew them when...")
So what am I going to do now that it's over? Write, of course! I have too many ideas and too little time. Before, I would measure progress by word count and time spent, but I don't think that's good enough; progress is finishing things and submitting them. Boot Camp has given me confidence that I have the skill to get published, or nearly so; now I just need to supply the persistence. So excuse me while I go back to ignoring my blog and writing some stories...