Odyssey

By Stephen Chambers (http://www.sff.net/people/schambers)

Designed as a literary boot-camp, Odyssey is a six-week long intensive writing program taught by an incredibly talented writer and former editor, Jeanne Cavelos in New Hampshire. Odyssey draws talent from all around the United States and abroad, as guest lecturers and a "writer-in-residence" help make the writing conference one of the most successful of its kind.

Through daily workshopping sessions and instruction, bonds develop among the talented "recruits." Ruthlessly effective editing and writing advice supplants rope ladders and rifle training, and the grunts--the happy few--cling to one another for survival. Connections develop which will last through the unending war for publication. As any writer knows, artistic-types are invariably fragile, and discovering others of like-mind, all immensely talented, can be the difference between publication and a long, unfinished manuscript in a desk drawer.

At the 1998 Odyssey workshop, I learned to write. I would prefer not to discuss my writing prior to that time; it was "unpublishable." I'll leave it at that. The intensity of Odyssey pushed me, forced me to acknowledge my weaknesses in characterization and plotting and kicked me harder than I thought possible. Learning from such writers as Harlan Ellison, James Morrow, and our lovely taskmaster, Jeanne Cavelos, was as much fun as it was work. Odyssey is for those who wish to be published: it's that simple. How so?

After graduating Odyssey in the summer of 1998, I returned to high school. During my senior year, at the age of 18, I sold two novels, Hope's End and Hope's War to Tor Books via my literary agent. Both are available in bookstores now and received praise in places such as Asimov's Magazine, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, and the Chicago Tribune; praise I would never have received prior to Odyssey. It's often said that there is no magic bullet in the fight for publication, but I disagree. There's Odyssey.

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