my online writing community is the best online writing community, fight me
Today had a smaller wonkiness quotient, so let's talk about why Codex is the greatest and its contests are the bestest.
Only sorta kidding. But to put it in less superlative tones: Codex is an online community for semi-pro writers, primarily in the speculative genres (see the New Member Qualifications on the linked page to see what that means). I joined shortly after making my first pro sale in 2010. To be very precise, I joined shortly after the convention at which editor Ellen Datlow hosted a reading from that anthology, in which I participated. I spent a large part of the train ride home in the lounge car chatting deep into the night with other author attendees who urged me to join Codex. And so I did.
Since then, Codex has been the biggest single boost to my writing career. Or, rather, it has represented multiple boosts. It's been a motivator, a networking outlet, an industry information warehouse, and just an all-around uplifting experience. I'm in a "face-to-face" critique group (over Zoom) because of Codex. I've found out about markets I might not have otherwise because of Codex. I've found out important things about the markets I might or might not submit to because of Codex.
And I've written a lot more than I might have otherwise because of Codex's contests.
Right now we are in week 3 of an annual flash fiction contest called Weekend Warrior. The conceit is simple. Friday afternoon, writing prompts go up. Sunday at midnight, the story you wrote inspired by one or more of those prompts is due. It must be 750 words or less. Until the next Friday afternoon--when the cycle starts over again--everyone reads each other's (anonymous) contest stories, gives each story a mini-critique (optional), and assigns each story a score from 1 to 10 (essential). It's super fun when your story scores high, but scoring isn't the real point. The point is, you wrote five new stories! And got them mini-critiqued! And now you can go revise them and start sending them out to paying markets!
Another benefit of the contest is having to read and critique some twenty tiny stories every week. I stress about it, because that's a lot to add to my weekly task list, but I really do benefit from it. Having to focus in and clearly identify what works for me and what doesn't helps me in turn to write stories that work well more often than they don't. And reading other peoples' comments directs my attention to aspects of those stories I might not otherwise have noticed.
I am doing unusually well in time management this week, yesterday's wonkiness notwithstanding. I've divided up my reading assignment into four parts, one of which I read per day. I'll be hitting the third batch tonight after this post goes up, and the fourth tomorrow afternoon after I get home from my BFR shift. I've feeling very proud of myself because of this. I can't tell you how many times I've done the whole lot in a panic during the last two hours on Friday, and then guilty about it. In my rush, I probably failed to read as closely as my fellow participants deserve. Better time-management this week means I can be so much more careful and deliberate and thoughtful about my reading--and that benefits everyone.
I am also very proud of the story I submitted for this week's consideration. I'm looking forward to what everyone else had to say about it.
I have a whole bunch of stories in my To-Be-Revised queue already, and they will stay there, untouched, because I'm not allowed to get started on them until I'm caught up on the Friday Fictionette project. (I'm sort of participating in three Weekend Warrior contests simultaneously. There's the one story I write for the actual contest, and then theoretically there's two Friday Fictionettes I'm writing a week in order to get caught up. Argh.) And yet I'm looking forward to adding five new stories to the revision queue. Well, really what I'm looking forward to is sending them out to play in various slush piles, and revision is just something that's got to happen along the way. Except I'm genuinely looking forward to getting these stories right.
So that's why Codex is the greatest and Codex contests are the bestest. Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.