Keithmoon Drumbeat teaches an online creative writing workshop at UBC in Second Life

Keithmoon Drumbeat leads a UBC creative writing workshop on Second LifeI just had an awesome experience today having my story critiqued in a workshop.  But this workshop is not in the real world but on Second Life, the online alternate world.  For those who are unfamiliar with Second Life, people choose an avatar and enter the world, run around, meet people, shop, make money, and in some cases, go to class.  This class, sponsored by the University of British Columbia and taught by Canadian writer, Kevin Chong, was an undergraduate creative writing workshop completely on Second Life.

The class members don’t have to be in the same place at all.  They just work it like an online class, each at their own computer, but the Second Life twist is that they can appear all in the same room together, chatting.  Everyone chooses a cool name.  On Second Life, you can belong to families—so they give you surnames to choose from, and then you pick your first name.  On Second Life, I am Bison Steampunk.

Next you choose an avatar, and Second Life has probably the best avatar creator on the web.  Even World of Warcraft is limited to the six or seven creatures to pick from….  but on Second Life, you can literally be anything: a toaster, a zombie, an animated foot, a stuffed animal.  One day I am going to get the Minotaur with the Battle Axe.  Hehe.  But for now, I stuck with the free avatar and shaped him myself.   I also picked up some free body parts, skins, and adaptations for my avatar at a Men’s retreat center online called Thor’s Den.  I’ll admit, I went a little crazy on the avatar and he’s easy on the eyes.  So he’s not a perfect rendition of me.  But that’s the joy of Second Life.  You can be anything and anyone you want to be.

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Writing Your Faith: Workshop offered in January at the United Church

Olya telling me the Russian Faith and Light Movement StoryWhat is Faith to you?  How do you think about it?  How do you put it into words–to tell someone else what it means to you?  Does it only appear when you are going through struggles?  Is it constant like gravity?  I like this photograph by Grigory Kravchenko.  The woman looks up, but it looks as if she’s giving God a good talking to.  Faith seems to take place over coffee, and in a gritty real-world setting.

Starting January 21st (it was the 14th, but we canceled the first class due to extreme temps, -38C), the Whitehorse United Church and I have teamed up to offer a class in Writing Your Faith.  How do we put into words what is ineffable?

We’ll be looking at a lot of writers who have done just that.   Some you will find more effective for your style of writing than others.

While the majority of works that we look at will be of the Christian variety, they will not be texts that marginalize you.   They will be authors who struggle with the same kinds of questions that most people do when they are talking about a greater being in the world and how they interact with that being.  We’re not reading the selections to pick up content—it’s not an evangelical endeavor.  What we’re doing is looking at how people talk about their Faith, whatever their Faith might be.  So we’re picking up tips.  And those tips are good to use whether you are writing about yourself as a Christian or Muslim or Buddhist or Jewish or Agnostic.

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Clarion San Diego accepting applications till March 1st

If you want to write science fiction and fantasy there is no better crucible and proving ground, classroom and community, than Clarion San Diego.  I have already written a whole page on it, and updated the writers for 2010.  It looks to be awesome.  You have about six weeks to turn in applications to go.  If you want a career in writing science fiction and fantasy, this is the right investment.  After this, you don’t have to invest in another writer’s workshop for more… this is all you need.  The writers are some you know and some you might not yet:  Samuel R. Delany, George R.R. Martin, Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, Delia Sherman and Dale Bailey.  The opportunities you get to move your work around and let people see it are great.  

See more information here.

Go to their website here. 

That’s us in the picture, on the bluffs outside La Jolla, near San Diego.  That’s me pointing to the future.  I say, “Hey, look, I can see a whole group of published writers!”  And then someone says, “Out to sea, huh?”  Okay, we didn’t say that.  But these people became some of my closest friends.  

  I seem to be doing more pointing.  I do that a lot.  People just stare at me like I’m one of those people.  

Clarion solidified my “calling”–not only because everyone sacrificed to get there, but because we were taken seriously.  I wrote a lot and wrote intensely.  I was challenged.  Wow, was I challenged.  And I experienced some great moments of my life.  I would love to relive this again–and really relish it this time.  You get so busy writing you sometimes forget.  

If you think it’s too much, it will be.  But I took a third of everything I had and put into this workshop financially, and I wasn’t the only one.  I love where it brought me, and where it let me stay for six weeks, and where it’s carrying me in the future.  I think you will too.  

There are a lot of workshops–Odyssey, Clarion West, etc—but I think this one is the best.  And if you respect the 18 other students there, you will get the most out of the workshop.  If you feel defensive about your work before you go, you might not get as much out of the workshop.  Because certainly the work will be up for critique–but not you.  You are up for amazing moments and good, solid career information. 

Go.  You’ll be glad you did.