“If this is not what you expected, please alter your expectations.”
Mark Morford

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

having more to read all of a sudden is kind of a mixed blessing
Tue 2015-05-12 23:36:16 (in context)

Habitual readers of the actually writing blog will have noticed habitual mention of an online writing community called Codex. Now, I am here to tell you today that you, too, can join Codex if you, too, are neo-pro speculative fiction writer. And if you are, you should. I will tell you why.

Membership in Codex is free, but depends on the applicant having met one of a number of criteria. All of them are detailed on the page linked above. Just for example, when I applied, I qualified under two different criteria, those being having made a SFWA-qualifying sale of fiction ("First Breath" to the anthology Blood and Other Cravings) and in having attended the Viable Paradise workshop. Agent representation, award nomination, and successful self-publishing are also vectors for qualification. Again, click the link and check it out.

Why should you join? Well, for one thing, the Codex community runs a number of contests throughout the year, and contests are really great sources of motivation.

Some are very casual. Every two months, there's a new forum thread where you can report each manuscript submission as you send it out. Whoever does the most submissions for that two-month period gets bragging rights and maybe a lovely doodle by the contest host, something like that. The prize is not the point. The point is to start thinking of manuscript submissions as something you can darn well do a lot of. Just by actively keeping up with the thread and reading others' submission reports, I find myself thinking things like, "Wait, don't I have a manuscript that came back last week with a rejection letter? I wonder if this magazine that so-n-so just reported a submission to would be a good fit. Time to send that sucker back out again!" or, "They take reprints? I didn't know that publisher took reprints! I have just the thing to send them."

See? Motivation!

I've participated in more formal ones, too, like the annual Weekend Warrior competition. That's where between Friday afternoon and Sunday night you write a brand new short-short story based on one of several provided prompts. During the weekdays, you read each other's entries (which are anonymized) and you vote on them. Come the following Friday, the process starts again. And this goes on for a whole bunch of weeks in a row. (I think it was five.) By the end of the contest, you've written a bunch of new flash fiction and you've gotten helpful comments from other contest participants to guide you in the rewrite. One of my Weekend Warrior shorts, in a heavily revised form, went on to be accepted and published ("Other Theories of Relativity" on Toasted Cake). This is not an unusual fate for a Weekend Warrior story.

The contest I'm currently participating in, the Title Rummage Sale, is similar, but it's for full-length stories and your prompt is whatever title you choose from the list of available titles. The deadline was Sunday night. This week, we're all reading each other's stories so we can vote and comment on them next week. This means that not only have I written a brand new 1500-word story, but now I get to read a bunch of brand-new 1500-5000 word stories.

I don't know about you, but for me, getting to read a bunch of new stories written by my fellow Codexians is a real treat. Also, my eyes are among the first ever to see these stories. One day, when they are published and are wowing readers the world over, I will be able to say I knew it when.

(And maybe someone will eventually say the same about one of my stories. Exciting!)

So! Bundles of writing motivation and oodles of new reading material! What's not to like? I mean, other than the problem of having more things to read when I ought to be taking more time to write, of course. But isn't that always the way?

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