Viable Paradise 14

As earlier noted, the reason I wasn’t here much in the last week was because I was at the Viable Paradise writing workshop, at which I and other science fiction pros offered advice and information to newer writers. The workshop this year was very good; I expect you’ll see a number of VP14 students selling their works sooner than later, since in at least one case my advice about a story was “I have no advice to give you. This story works. Send it out.” This is not to say I won’t claim credit for this and other students’ successes when they inevitably happen, mind you. Oh, that writer? Was a student of mine, you know. Everything they know? From me. Yes, indeed.

For the VP14ers and others who are interested, here’s my rather meager Flickr set from the week.

This particular VP session was ever-so-slightly melancholy for me because I won’t be an instructor next year; I have plans for next October which I can’t detail at the moment because they’re not totally set yet, but when they are you’ll probably agree it’s pretty cool. But it means not being at VP, which makes me sad. In the three years I taught there I made a number of good friends, benefited from the wisdom of my fellow instructors,  and I also learned about myself as an instructor of writing, primarily that I can be a pretty good instructor of writing. I wouldn’t necessarily have laid money on that one before I did it. It’s an interesting thing to discover about one’s self, and for me a good thing. I do like being useful to other writers; I like to think I’ve been useful to these VP students. Especially since I plan to take credit for their success anyway.

In any event, I’ve been extraordinarily fortunate to have three very good years teaching at Viable Paradise. I hope the instructor who replaces me next year feels as happy to be there, and gets as much out of the workshop and the students, as I have. I don’t doubt that they will.

22 Comments on “Viable Paradise 14”

  1. Next October?
    Ah, that would be in the middle of pre-production for the movie adaptation of Old Man’s War! Or something else altogether…. :-)


  2. Thanks for the critique as well as the laughs. You were very very good at distilling the essence of the manuscript down to fulfilling (or not) the reader’s expectations and desires. You can’t ask for more than that when preparing to tackle paying markets.

  3. Well… now we’re all speculating about Oct. 2011.

    Also – you’re looking good. The conscious eating choices are working for you. Congratulations!

  4. For those wondering, John’s not really blowing his own horn, he is very good. Pointed out some plot holes nobody else saw. Usually when just one person says something in a critique you should take their comments with a grain of salt. When I corrected the ones John pointed out, not only did I have a stronger plot, I learned a lot about the art of telling a novel length story. John is pretty damn good at the teaching.

    Guess @6, last year I took a novel (although you only get to have the first 8000 words or so critiqued).

  5. I gotta say that I the advice from Scalzi that I got truly changed my writing. I didn’t even realize how much until I got went back this year to teach a lil’ yoga to the 14’ers and realized what his and everybody’s advice did for my writing.

    But is that it Scalzi? No more VP for you? This seems like a “So Long” letter more than a “TTFN” memo.

    To think no one else will get to teabag your Red Vines.

  6. Chang:

    Just in case you see this before I fix it, I accidentally put your comment in the moderation queue. A slip of the finger on the Droid. I’ll release it when I get home. Sorry.

  7. There, it’s back now. As if NOTHING EVER HAPPENED.


    I wouldn’t say no to coming back to Viable Paradise at some point if it fit into my schedule. There are currently no plans for me to return, however.

  8. and it’s in MARTHA’S VINEYARD, for god’s sake. In the Fall. Holy crap. Are you recommending replacements to them? Pick me, ooww, pick me.

  9. We’ll miss you. On the other hand, I expect we will save thousands in Coke Zero expenditures.

  10. Could have sworn I read: “and gets as much out of the worship of the students, as I have.” as the end of the second to last sentence of this post. Then I went back and found:…”and gets as much out of the workshop and the students, as I have.” I mean you have a very healthy ego, but that was a little over the top even for you.

    This is what happens when I’m lying on the couch reading while sharing breakfast donuts with the dogs! My reading speed stays about the same, but my comprehension goes to the dogs.

  11. I want to second what #7 said – you are looking good Scalzi. I think you have successfully lost the “I’ve given up” look, and are now sporting the “my wife is with me by choice, not for the sake of the children” look. Nice job!

  12. Like Steve, I’m going to tell you that John is that good of a teacher. Teaching is my primary source of income, and I evaluate other teachers to boot. I can tell he’s got the IT factor, that mix of charisma and knowledge that makes for a gifted teacher.

    Like Chang, I’m going to tell you that my session with John changed my writing. He’s insightful, and he pointed out that I knew what I needed to know, I just wasn’t writing enough down.

    And John, I hope that you get a chance to return to teaching writing sometime in the future. You’re that good at it, and I hope you have a chance to use your gifts again in this way.