BIG NEW PROJECT for the SLF!

Here’s the BIG NEW PROJECT for the Speculative Literature Foundation. I spent some time in Dublin at WorldCon talking about the problem of affordable creative writing writing instruction with a host of writers, editors, and fans.

It’s a pipeline problem — if people are barred from participating in classes and workshops due to financial and other barriers (and it’s marginalized populations who are most disproportionately hit by such barriers), then our field is impoverished as a result. So many people don’t get the teaching, the encouragement, the support they need to survive and thrive as writers.

We think we can help with that.

I’d love to announce a fabulous name for this new project — we’re still fine-tuning it. (As all writers know, names are hard.) But in my head, I’m thinking of it as sort of Khan Academy for creative writing, or the SLF’s free creative writing instruction project. I know, that’s not catchy. We’ll get there. But here are the components:

– we build a set of master-class interviews on aspects of craft and put them out as podcasts, on YouTube, and on our website — so far, we’ve recorded George R.R. Martin on epic fantasy, Paolo Bacigalupi on message fiction, Kate Elliott on worldbuilding

– we interview exciting emerging writers from around the globe, to build a better understanding of what it means to be a speculative literature writer today — so far, we’ve interviewed Minal HajratwalaVida Cruz, and Silvia Moreno-Garcia

– we work with professors, editors, agents, publishers, librarians and more to build out a database of resources of use to writers: from an essential reading list of climate fiction, to a collated set of fabulous articles on craft, to a guide to indie publishing your first novel, and more.

– we initiate a mentorship program (we ran a pilot once before which did well), pairing apprentice writers with journeymen in small online groups for three months of mentoring, advice, and mutual support

– we start building out a network of in-person local chapters; we’ve started the Chicago one with the Deep Dish reading series, and are looking to add instructional writing workshops this year (they won’t be free, but as low cost as we can manage, and always with scholarships available), facilitate writer groups for peer workshops, and schedule in-person meet-ups for co-writing and support

Niall Harrison (former editor-in-chief of Strange Horizons) has agreed to come on board at the Speculative Literature Foundation to help us address that. (He’s not nearly as formal as this photo makes him look; we just couldn’t resist the rather ridiculously throne-like chair at our hotel.) He and I will lead this project together. With his help, we’re going to build something fabulous.

Your help too — though we’re primarily volunteers, there will be some costs associated with this, from space rental to publicity to scholarship aid. The SLF’s October membership drive has started, and we’re almost to our first milestone, of 25 new members! We need 250 new members in October so we can move forward with this project immediately — I think we can get there, with your help. We’re planning to roll out the first stages in January 2020.

We hope you join us in transforming the field, and the future! http://speculativeliterature.org/membership/

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