It's with regret that I let my membership in the Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror expire this week. I joined over ten years ago and wrote nearly a thousand reviews. I've met a lot of good writers, read a lot of interesting stories, and used the workshop to revise many stories, including "A Reptile at the Reunion," Lyon's Legacy, Twinned Universes, and the short stories I've self-published. So why am I giving up the workshop?
Lack of time is the main issue. I've always had to fit critting in with my day job, writing, and daily life, and when Alex came along, of course he took priority over the workshop. But I've been so busy that I haven't had a chance to critique anything on the workshop since last summer or so. Critiquing even a single chapter can be time-intensive when you're a nit-picker. (I will go through and point out every typo and misplaced comma.) But even if I manage to override my anal-compulsive proof-reading, I still have to read the chapter or short story, go through and make line comments, and sum up strengths and weaknesses.
Another factor is the nature of the workshop itself. You can't post an entire novel at once; you're limited to 7,500 words for each submission. You're also only able to put up three chapters at a time. It can take months to post a novel. Even if you form partnerships with other members who will read your entire work, this slow pacing makes it difficult to review the novel as a whole. I do think I've learned a lot by intensive line critting, but I feel I need to focus now on overall plotting.
What do I plan to do going forward? I'll e-mail some of my contacts and see if they want to continue exchanging stories outside of the group. I think I can still manage to perform crits if I can upload a manuscript to my Kindle and read it there. I can take notes as I read and then type them up for the author. I will also see if I can use Facebook to find more crit partners. Feedback is always important no matter where you are in your writing career.
How do you find crit partners? Do you prefer to crit a chapter at a time or an entire book, and why?