Futurescapes: Application and Pre-workshop

So in March this year I did the futurescapes writing workshop. Before I did it I had searched blogs for people’s experiences and I thought, given it had been of interest to me to get different people’s takes, I would write about my experience with it. Now futurescapes does a number of different workshops, so to be clear, the one I participated in was the science fiction and fantasy 3000-word SFF novel excerpt. They also do longer (10,000 word) novel excerpts, kid lit and a horror.

The first step is the application. Pretty straightforward. Demographics, contact info, a question asking you your goals for the workshop, what genre your work is as well as what genres and age ranges in general you write for, trigger warnings, a writing sample and information on finances if you are applying for a scholarship.

Perhaps the most important thing to note is that the writing sample is to judge the quality of your work, to make sure you reach the standards of the workshop. But it does not have to be the piece you intend to workshop. I think this is important to emphasize as perhaps the piece you are working on is not yet ready, but you have another piece that is. That’s okay. I sent in the first 3000 words of one of my novels which I had every intention of workshopping and then ended up workshopping a different one because by time the workshop rolled around I had beta-readers on the first one and no feedback yet on the other.

Then you wait. If you think you are definitely doing it, apply early, as the cost goes up the closer to the workshop you apply.

I eventually did get the email “After carefully reviewing your application, it is my pleasure to extend an offer of admission to you to the 2023 Futurescapes Writers’ Workshops. Congratulations to you in this highly competitive process!”

Did I celebrate? No. Instead, given my severe imposter syndrome I decided it mustn’t be real. It mustn’t be competitive. I mean, I got in right? That’s when I searched for other people’s opinions. To my surprise, I did find people that got rejected. People that applied multiple times before getting in. And I found blogs of people who attended and generally felt good about it.

So, having discovered that it was real, and people felt it worthwhile, I decided to put down my money and go. After all, I was also considering more in depth workshop experiences (Odyssey, Clarion West, Clarion) and felt maybe this could be a trial to see if workshopping was right for me.

Futurescapes ask that you announce it via twitter/other social media, to help promote the workshop, and then pay in a lump sum or in installments, and then they will send you the link and password for the next stage.

Next stage? Yes. You are not done with filling out forms. Again, you get an email with a form consisting of basic registration forms. Paying. That kind of thing.

It was a month before the next email came. It wanted me to fill out another form. Annoyingly demographic data that could have autopopulated given they sent me the link, on email address and name, but also asking what date I intend uploading my excerpt, and whether I prefer US east coast morning classes or evening, or whether I would prefer either.

I selected evening as I work on the US east coast, so morning would not have been possible, but if you can do mornings, I would say do that, as the final schedule makes more sense for the morning sessions. If you are an evening, at least for us, you were doing one of your classes after the goodbye speeches. Also, half the workshop is over the weekend, and honestly I could probably have just taken Thurs/Fri as time off. Your situation may be different. That way I would not have spent my weekend in classes in the afternoons. But there was no option for evenings during the week and mornings on the weekend. Maybe they’ll do that if it continues to grow.

On the date I designated on the above form I got another email inviting me to…fill out another form. Again, name and email were not autopopulated and had to be filled in. I comment on this not because it is so onerous. But because to my mind it is a reflection of the whole experience. Its good. Its thorough. But some things appear that the organizers took the most basic approach to setting things up and you will have to do a little work to get the most of it. Another example of this is when, during the workshop, we were asked if we wanted sessions recorded. The caveat being, if we did, everyone in the group had to agree (I felt they could have asked this prior and grouped us into people who wanted to be recorded and people who didn’t), Instead on the day we did the workshops they had to visit each zoom group, get consensus and then make someone host if they wanted to do it. And we had to record it to our own device. My laptop didn’t have memory for this but had I known in advance I could have bought an extra hard drive, or used a different device. Again, none of this bothered me as I didn’t want recordings, but organizationally it was a little chaotic at times.

Anyway – back to the form. Again, name, email, then trigger warnings for this piece, and your 3000 word excerpt, and a max 500 word query letter.

Some people in my group uploaded a query letter to a different novel than the excerpt. It’s pretty much free range on what you do.

Then another week goes by and they send you an email. With another form… Name, email, cellphone this time, and then they asked again what shift (morning vs evening), you get to say whether you want to work with editors/agents/writers in fantasy or sci fi and in mg vs adult etc. Only you don’t get to really specify all of that. you get to pick what combo is most important to you, and what combo is least. And that’s pretty much it. There’s a space for ‘special requests’ where I put the name of a faculty member I specifically wanted to work with (I didn’t get them), and if you need any accommodations.

The next email you get is an invitation to a pre-workshop social. But given this post is already long, I think I will make the actual workshop tomorrow or Thursdays post as a followup.

Not sure if this is useful, but given how offputting I found my pre-workshop experience but I still thought the workshop itself was a phenomenal experience, I thought I would put this out there to help reassure, at least from my experience, others in the application process.

By the way, this is day 2 of my attempt to start a writing habit (see blog post 5/1/23) by writing a blog or on my fiction every day for 21 days straight. Almost a disaster already as I was sitting drinking my coffee and had completely forgotten I was meant to do this. But as you see, as soon as I remembered my commitment, it sparked a post!

Any questions, thoughts or comments give me a shout out!

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