… I attended the One Step Beyond writers’ workshop in Torquay, a one-off event for would-be SF writers.
I think it was actually early October 1998, but can’t quite remember the date, though some details of that week are still crystal clear: the initial sense of panic when our tutor, writer and teacher Liz Holliday, gave us our first exercise, telling us we had an hour to write (in public! to time!) and then we’d all read out what we’d got; the walk by the sea when I realised just how much I had to learn, and resolved to learn it; my first critique, and the only one that’s ever made me cry – not because I was hurt that no-one understood my genuis (!), but because, coming as it did at the end of the week, I now knew how awful what I’d written was, and was massively embarrassed and chastened.
Seven of us attended One Step Beyond. Two, Mike Lewis and Vaughan Stanger, are now semi-pros. Two (the only women, I feel compelled to mention), Karen Traviss and myself, are now ‘Filthy Rotten Pros’. I call that a pretty good hit-rate. So, here’s to Liz, who put me on the right path – and who still gives me savage critiques to help keep me on it.