Posts Tagged ‘taos toolbox’

I am not afraid to admit it: I am a man, and I am a fan of Project Runway. It shouldn’t be a surprise, really, because what I like about the show, and what I admire about the contestants, is their ability to create something out of nothing in almost no time. Their  parameters are like the guidelines of a magazine. Every week they try to transcribe those parameters into a story that says something about themselves. The fact that they tell their stories in cloth and other (usually) wearable materials is irrelevant; they are creating something out of nothing. And they do it in two days. It’s like a mini-Nanowrimo every week.

I’m not one of those authors who can produce something quickly and on demand. When I was at Taos Toolbox, I was petrified we were going to be required to come up with something fresh in the space of a day, and I knew that was never going to happen. It didn’t make it any better that one of my roommates was doing that very thing–and he did it pretty much every day. It still amazes me, that quickness of mind and creativity. It’s like when Harlan Ellison wrote stories in the window of Change of Hobbit bookstore back in the 1970s. I wouldn’t know how to do that if you threatened to arrest me.

One of the things I like about novels is that you don’t have to come up with new ideas all the time. Well, you do, but they fit into a pattern you’ve already laid out. I’m just not the quickest creator on the block. It’s taxing me to write a novel in ten weeks. (Spoiler: It may not happen.)

The answer, of course, is that I don’t have to be the quickest. I have to be as quick as I can be, work as hard as I can work, and write the best story that’s in me. Because it’s not about who’s fastest, or even who’s best, for that matter. There are seven billion potential readers out there; there’s room for more than one “best” writer.

Don’t ever try to put me on a show called Project: Writeaway, though. (“If you want to win, you have to create a story ‘write’ away!”) I’m not going to run around the room asking, “Has anybody got any extra metaphors? I didn’t buy enough!” or crying, “I should have learned to type faster!” That is not going to happen.

Although, I suppose I could write a story about it…



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Got an email today from Walter Jon Williams, founder of the Taos Toolbox “master class” seminar for writers held annually near Taos, New Mexico.

“I’m pleased to announce that Taos Toolbox 2016 will take place July 17-30, 2016, in our new venue at Angel Fire, NM, 25 miles from Taos. (Roughly the same distance from Taos as Taos Ski Valley.) Angel Fire is still in the Carson National Forest, and as surrounded by natural wonder as our old location.

Faculty includes Nancy Kress and Walter Jon Williams, along with special lecturers James S.A. Corey and indiepub guru Emily Mah Tippetts.

Please tell your friends and colleagues that applications will begin December 1, 2015. Nag and harass them if you have to! They’ll thank you for it in the end.”

The Toolbox isn’t for everyone; it assumes you have mastered the basic arts involved in putting words down on paper, and the basic science of submitting. In other words, it’s for writers who have a couple of sales under their belts. But for those who qualify, I recommend it very highly. It’s not only a good learning experience with excellent instructors, but the people you will meet there are your peers (and often more advanced than you). Those friendships will serve you well as you move up the ladder and expand your sphere of influence.

I went to Taos in 2008 and it’s likely the best thing I’ve done for my writing since learning to type.

Consider yourselves nagged.

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