I'm back from LA, where I spent the last week and a half at the Writers of the Future workshop. It was one of the most intense experiences of my writing career... no, of my life. Most of the week was spend in a classroom, where New York Times Bestselling author David Farland (who was an early mentor to Stephenie Meyer, Brandon Sanderson, Brandon Mull, and James Dasher, all of whom have hit #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list) threw knowledge bombs at us at such a rapid pace I nearly broke off my fingertips trying to type notes fast enough to keep up. This is David:
David was joined in his knowledge offensive by bestselling author Time Powers (whose Coca-Cola addiction really is well past the "needs and intervention" point) as well as a host of guest-lecturers: Kevin J Anderson, Jody Lynne Nye, Robert J Sawyer, Mike Resnick, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Jerry Pournelle, Larry Niven, Nancy Kress, and Nnedi Okorafor. Between them, this group has I think 3 or 4 Ph.D.s, and more Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy award wins than anyone could possibly keep track of. Oh, and literally every one of them is a bestselling author of fantasy and science fiction.
The organizers were kind enough to give us a break form this by giving us three story prompts, all of which we had to combine into one story and take it from concept to completed draft in 24 hours. I slept 4 hours that night and banged out 7,800 words. My previous single-day record had been 3,000.
They gave us a break from that by giving us our first taste of doing a book signing. They lined us up like an assembly line and had us sign 300 copies of the book that were going out to... actually, I have no idea who they were going to.
And they gave us a break from that by throwing us a big ol' awards ceremony where we had to give speeches in front of a live crowd of thousands and internet viewers in the millions.
What I'm really saying is, they didn't give us any breaks.
But hey, if you only had one week to soak in the knowledge that a dozen of the top science fiction and fantasy writers in the world had accumulated over decades of being in the business, would you be like, "Eh, I'm going to take a nap and maybe join you later?" Me neither. I slept less than I thought humanly possible and now that I'm back I've finally collapsed and I'm sick as hell and coughing my lungs out as I write this.
Totally worth it.