The three 1632 conferences and the two Universe Annex conferences go back to 2000 or so, when we were soliciting new writers for Jim Baen’s Universe magazine and for the Grantville Gazette in its infancy.
The Universe magazine died because it was before its time…If we’d been able to keep it going until the Kindle, it would still be up and running. The problem was that the critique group didn’t die with the magazine. They continue to post stories and they were pretty good.
We had modeled the 1632 Bar forums after the Baen’s Universe forums, and we were getting enough good writing that Eric Flint decided to take the magazine bimonthly, in 2007, and pay standard professional rates (then $0.06/word, now $0.08/word).
And mostly, the forums work. People post articles, discussion, and argument in 1632Tech. They post stories in 1632Slush and ask for critiques on 1632SlushComments. Probably 90% of the stories we’ve published in the Gazette have gone through this exercise. When it works, it produces polished stories that are professional in quality.
When it doesn’t work, it can be a horrible experience for a beginning writer. I’ve had potential 1632 writers tell me they are afraid of the gauntlet of “No sayers” that lurks on the forum. I’ve had professional writers ask if they can just submit to me to avoid the teeth and claws.
I’ve been dealing with this long before I took over as Editor of the Grantville Gazette. In fact, it was a post of mine on this subject that got Paula to tell me, “Fine, you take over!”
The problem is that we forget what we are trying to do. We are trying to give anybody who wants to be a writer a chance at the golden ring—we buy your story and you become a published author. Telling people, “You can’t do that!” or “No way, that won’t work!” is designed to chase the poor newbie off with his or her tail tucked between their legs.
Sometimes, I think it would be nice for people to remember how it was when they first posted a story to the 1632Slush forum. Remember the trepidation, the fear of rejection, the thought that all your work might not be good.
So, when somebody new posts an idea in 1632Tech or a story in 1632Slush, how about saying, as Griffin Barber so eloquently has said elsewhere, “Yes, and…”