Earlier today Neil Gaiman made a tumblr post in response to a question about the cost of networking for young writers. The questioner made the point that going to conventions and attending writing workshops is expensive. I guess they were thinking about going to World Fantasy, or attending Clarion. Neil made some good points about minimizing hotel costs, and mentioned a much cheaper writing course, but I’d like to go one better.
Over the holidays I participated in an online writing course run by Cat Rambo. It took place in Google+ Hangouts, and I thought it worked very well. It was also quite cheap. $145 from memory. Obviously you’ll get a lot more out of Clarion, but if you want to test the water an online course is a good way to start.
Cat is a fun tutor with plenty of experience as both a fiction writer and a professional editor. She has plenty of sound, practical advice to offer, and the writing exercises are enjoyable. A course like this allows you to meet other writers of varying levels of experience and talent, which is a very good way of finding out what you are good at and where your skills need work. It also gives you a bunch of potential writing buddies, which can be very valuable.
In answer to the obvious question, I’m not going to post anything I wrote. I have a very long way to go before anything of mine is publishable. And I don’t have anywhere near enough time to work on it. Also I simply don’t have the instincts to be able to write something good in class the way that many of the other students could, so I failed a lot.
And finally, if even that amount of money is too much, you could read one of the books that Cat recommended. The exercise that she got from this one was great fun, and very insightful. Yeah, it’s Le Guin, how did you guess?