I can honestly say that I am the writer I am today in no small part due to ArmadilloCon and the workshop. I first went in 2005, and on some level I was completely unaware what I was going to. At that point, I had written (as a NaNoWriMo) a novel called the Fifty Year War— which is terrible, by the way– and was working on Crown of Druthal, which at the time I was convinced would be my grand opus. For the workshop, I had submitted the first chapter of Crown.
Friends, let me tell you, I walked in there totally cocky. I had read the other pieces for my group, and found them all wanting, and was convinced– absolutely rock-solid certain– that I had something truly awesome on my hands, and that’s what I would be told. Sure, they’ll give me some notes on polishing it. Just the little tweaks it needs to go from, say, A+ to A++.
It was savaged. Deeply, horribly savaged. Torn to pieces.
And, looking back, rightly so. It was deeply, deeply flawed. I’m talking on a fundamental level in terms of POV and verb tense. Let alone a third of the whole thing was an infodumping history lesson on how the main character’s uncle got elected to Parliament.
Now, that said, despite said savaging, I realized that there was more going on than just the workshop– there was a whole conference. With panels of writers talking about writing, and the business of writing. And I, in my cocky ignorance, had already paid to go to all this and could. So my weekend was redefined from my previous plans.
I went again, including the Workshop in 2006, and was again savaged, but with a sense of a glimmer of potential.
I had to miss 2007’s conference, but I went again in 2008. And what I brought with me that year was the beginning of what would become Thorn of Dentonhill. And that was not savaged. With that, I was told, “You’re really close.”
So, if you’re in the central Texas area, or can get to it in August without significant hardship, come on down. You’ll be glad you did.