I left my brain in north-west Cymru

As usual, Milford has left me both energised and exhausted. This year there were twelve of us – half people I knew, half new faces – and everyone brought (at least) two pieces to be critted, so we had a heavy workload.

It felt a bit odd to be the only ‘filthy rotten pro’ aside from Liz Williams, Milford’s long-suffering and highly efficient organiser. Milford is only open to semi-professional SF writers – those who’ve had at least one short story professionally published – but this year the standard was very high, with most of those there at least as deserving of having their work in Waterstones as me. Occasionally I felt awkward, a bit like a lottery winner at a family wedding where everyone is too polite to ask for money.

I took two novel openings to be critiqued. Guardians of Paradise received only a few comments, which is good, as that means these experts couldn’t find too much wrong with it. The only real complaint was that Taro’s slang could be a bit grating, which is fair enough, but something I can’t change too much, given he’s already got an existence independent of me. The opening of Epiphany Night received more attention, and, most usefully of all, we had a discussion of the overall plot of that book. I also took a previously critiqued short story with me, to work on in those periods when we weren’t workshopping stuff.

Now I’ve recovered a little, and got through the mountain of admin and household stuff that always accumulates when you go away, I’m going to re-do the outline for Epiphany Night and get it off to my editor, as she has shown an interest. Then I’ll polish the short I revised over Milford and send it out to a suitable magazine. And after that, back to the task I’m most behind on, but which I need the decks cleared for: the first draft of Guardians.

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