Project Box 02: The Amiable Critique

So I joined Gumroad‘s Small Product Lab on a lark. It sounded like a cool challenge: make and launch a product in 10 days.

Of course, I didn’t notice that most of those 10 days I would be on vacation and at GenCon and driving. So when I got the email telling me to get ready for the lab I freaked out a little.

I was able to keep up with the assignments and participation for the first couple days, and then I got caught up in traveling and family and convention stuff. I got home with three days to do most of the work on my project.

And, well. I like sprints, so I went for launch anyway. And here it is:

The Amiable Critique

It’s ten thoughts about running critiques in a writers group. I’m pretty proud of it. I have an awesome supportive writer’s group, and I want nice things for other people’s writing groups. I hope it’s useful.

I’m going to throw out the first couple pages here so you get a feel for what it’s about.

Here are some thoughts about the process and making it:

1) Tied to the idea of a product is selling it. I set the price at pay what you want, because this is something I want to share, and because I don’t think I do enough to get my stuff out there. If you can donate the price of a cup of coffee, great. But please take it, and make good writing groups!

2) Related… >.> I’m terrible at marketing. I can sprint through making a product, but sharing it… I really suck at this. I look at it, I feel like it’s a good and useful thing, but I don’t know what to say to whom and where to get it out there. That’s something to work on…

3) I really love working with writers to improve their craft. I’m thinking about how to do more of that. If you’re interested in something like a subscription based writing critique group, comment, say hi, whatever.

This was fun. I learned a bit about myself and my philosophy of writing and critiquing — so all around win.

I Live In the Sky Today

Another story fragment thingy. Popped into my head in Singapore. Thanks Marina Bay Sands.

We are on to Malaysia now, working on a new draft of Smarasmarya. Yay editting.

As we rose into the sky, I gripped the railings with white knuckled hands, looking down while my world dropped away. Patolin, my guide, watched the Pinnings vanish without emotion as we climbed into the clouds.

“You do not like heights?” asked Patolin.

“I have never been this high before,” I said.

“Ah. Yes.” It seemed to satisfy him and he walked with ease to the other side of the rocket platform. The enclaves below now seemed like tiny barnacles colorfully clinging to the shore that was my mountains.

Patolin was not looking down.

Above, zooming into view, were the Skygardens.

I never thought I would get here.

The first Pinnings folk, two hundred of us, were rocketing up to the Skygardens all at the same time.

The rocket passed through the clouds, soft white obscuring my vision. I shivered as the droplets clung to my glasses. I had to take them off and clean them on my also damp shirt, and so, accidently missed my first glimpse of the Skygardens.

They were only a blur of color until I had my glasses back on my nose.

Below me, climbing out of the clouds were vines, wrapping and twisting through the unstable vapors. I tried to see what was holding them all up. It was the great mystery of the Skygardens. What kept them in the sky?

The vines seemed to be holding up the other structures – fantastical buildings shaped like birds, like ships, like trees or echoing the vines themselves.

“How?” I asked. “How…” The word escaped without my registering that it had.

“Pardon?” asked Patolin.

“How are they held up? How do they stay in the sky?”

“We do not know,” said Patolin.

“What?” I asked, aghast. “Who does?”

“No one, so far as I am aware.”

I looked at the dreamlike palaces, growing from the clouds before my eyes, floating in the sky.

“You don’t know how the Skygardens are held in the sky.”

Patolin tilted his head, as though to say, ‘yes, that is what I said. Why are you repeating it?’

“How do you live here?” I asked. I took a deep breath, feeling the weighted panic in my chest that said my body objected to what my brain was registering.

“What do you mean?”

“How do you live here? What if it stops working? What if you all fall?”

Patolin smiled. “Ah, so you Pinners do live in the future.”

“What?” I crouched down, touching the solidity of the platform, focusing on it to keep from thinking of the mile of air below me.

“I live in the sky today,” said Patolin. “Perhaps I will get to live here tomorrow as well. Perhaps not. Either way, I live in the sky today.”