My Odyssey Workshop Experience: The Aftermath

Where the beginning of Odyssey began slowly and ramped up, the end of Odyssey came abruptly. One day we were at lecture and critiques, had a graduation party that evening. The next day…nothing.

I wandered around, feeling lost, confused, pacing because my mind and body felt as if it was supposed to be doing something specific.

This was my life for six long weeks. I lived and breathed on Odyssey time. If I wasn’t attending lecture, I was reading a story to critique. If I wasn’t at a critique session, I was writing a story. If I wasn’t doing any of those things, I was working on a journal entry.

It got to the point where my daughter no longer asked me for tuck-ins at night. Six weeks of dad giving her nightly kisses. Six weeks of mom being locked in her office or buried in her computer or taking a walk with printed-out critique story and pencil took its toll. [I’m please to say that it only took another six-eight weeks for me to become the nightly requested tuck-in-er once more :)]

In terms of my writing, and all the things associated, my first week off Odyssey I did really well. Got back into the swing of things, went into writing-mode immediately M-F. Only, then I went on vacation, had the vacation cut short because of a hurricane and felt…morose. Partly because that vacation had been something I’d considered my reward and partly because suddenly I was smacked with all the things I’d let slide for two months.

I work on two pen names at once, so the list I compiled of projects to finish suddenly felt astronomical. Both blogs needed attention and posts; a novella needed finishing; promo work for a novel needed to be done; my submission number had dropped to a measly 1-2 out and stories desperately needed to be sent out; I had a stack of stories from Odyssey and before that needed editing; another novel to start preparing to write; my house was a complete wreck; my book club needed to meet; I was behind on reading I’d wanted to do; school was starting and would be at home; family felt partially abandoned by me and needed time and attention; and I’d agreed to do small extra things, like critiques & practice sessions that were now on the calendar; …I began to get that frozen feeling ones does when they feel like nothing you do will get you closer to finishing that goddamned elephant.

So I started slow.

I sat down two days in a row and just knocked out blog posts for my romance name. I spent one afternoon focused solely on cleaning. I’d read a little in bed each night. I would take 2-4 stories here and there and find matching places to submit them to.

I do so much better when I feel “ahead” though. And it didn’t seem like enough. I wasn’t moving fast enough. Wasn’t getting enough done.

So I applied to be a first reader at Alexandra Hill’s new magazine. And then, thinking I wouldn’t get chosen as I’m not an immigrant myself, I put together my application for Apex Magazine when they requested new first readers. And I got into both.

And then tossed myself to the wolves and suggested people on Codex to send me stories to read for awards consideration since I could nominate for both the Nebulas and Hugos.

I felt like a glutton for punishment. With many, many projects standing over my head. That maybe failure was in the cards.

Yet, it’s now into the new year. I managed to get my sub number back up. I’ve finished more short stories and completed other projects. I’ve crafted a time-block schedule in order to accomplish all the goals I have. I’ve also sold four five (can’t announce the fifth one yet though) short stories (2 of them pro) since Odyssey has ended. I’ve gotten a ton of reading done. None of these goals will ever truly be finished though.

I’m figuring out how to catch up, how to take everything I’ve learned and apply it. I’m growing in the right direction. And I will continue to do so. Odyssey was inspiring. Focused hard work that feels like it happened in another life, another world, like it was its own adventure that I conquered.

And now on to the next one! :)

<3 Marie C.

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