Second Life Condenses Time, Expands Resources for Writers

by Joan Kremer on April 25, 2009 · 3 comments

in Adventures,Benefits of SL,Opportunities

Second Life collapses time.  Case in point: my almost-lifelong effort to find or start a writers’ group for sharing and feedback.

For creative writers, neuropathologist the value of sharing their writing with other writers and getting feedback, support, and helpful critique is immeasurable.  Some writers even say it’s essential for getting published.  Whether that’s true or not, I know that for me, feedback from other writers is a critical part of improving my craft.

So, as I’ve whined about in previous posts, living in a rural area has made it a challenge to develop those connections with other writers. 

howto-storymountain

Story Mountain Center for Writers -- my home in Second Life

To illustrate just how challenging, here’s a brief outline of the last two decades of my physical-world efforts in that regard:

Years 1-10 (roughly): 

  1. Took numerous classes at closest literary center, about an hour’s drive one-way.
  2. Met other apprentice writers there, also looking for writers’ group.
  3. At conclusion of class, formed writers’ group.
  4. Hassled with logistics — when and where to meet with these busy people who lived as much as three hours’ drive-time apart.
  5. Group meets for a few months.
  6. Hassles of winter driving, getting babysitters, etc., etc., resulted in 100 percent attrition rate.
  7. Went back to Step 1 and start over.

I never got past Step 7!

Years 11-20 (approximately):

  1. Posted notices for fiction writers interested in creating a local group.
  2. Got calls from poets, non-writers who’d like to “give writing a try,” and former classmates who’ve been “wondering what the hell you were up to these days.”
  3. Gave up all efforts in this regard for several years.
  4. Started over again with Step 1.

Never got past Step 4.

Results: 

  • Two short-lived writers’ groups that required extensive time for handling logistics, and even more time to drive
  • Roughly five drafts of my first (unpublished) novel
  • A few new short stories written
  • Several stories and some poetry published
writergroups_gagnon

Bestselling author Michele Gagnon talks with a bunch of us writers in Second Life

Okay, NOW compare that with a year in Second Life!

Month 1:

  • Discovered and participated in a supportive writers’ open-mic event held once a week.

Months 2-3:

  • Won contests with new fiction writing from prompts.
  • Read my work aloud to audiences of other writers.
  • Opened Story Mountain Center for Writers, a retreat and learning place for writers in Second Life.

Months 4-8:

  • Wrote first draft of a new short story with some potential, because of an excellent fiction writing class taught by co-owner of Story Mountain.
  • Got great feedback from class members and instructor.
  • At Story Mountain, facilitated writers’ meetings with published authors coming into Second Life.

Month 9:

Months 10-11:

  • Temporarily began facilitating the TLE Writers’ Symposium when Rae had to quit to focus on meeting her publishers’ deadlines.
  • Met weekly with other writers attending the TLE group, to share writing in progress and give feedback.

Month 12:

  • Continued facilitating TLE Writers’ Symposium (and, frankly, loving it!).
  • Added second weekly Writers’ Symposium to accommodate writers in other time zones.

Results:

  • Second (and much better) novel drafted and now in revision
  • Twice-weekly sharing/support meetings with other writers from all over the world — and no driving and related hassles!
  • Keeping to a near-daily writing schedule
  • Thousands of new words of fiction written!!

From roughly 20 years to 1 year — that’s a lot of time collapsed, thanks to virtual world writers’ resources.

I’m not saying I accomplished the writing milestones I’ve hit in the past year just because of Second Life — not without all my years of writing practice on top of that.  But I do think many opportunities for improving one’s craft  are available in Second Life for a nano-fraction of the time, effort, and money they cost in the physical world.

And currently, one of my favorite opportunities is the chance to meet and share work with other writers at the TLE Writers’ Symposiums.

writersgroups_TLEsymposium

One of the open writers' sharing/feedback groups I facilitate at The Learning Experience in Second Life

If you’re interested in attending, please come check it out!  These are open meetings, so there’s usually new people each time, as well as a group of more-or-less regular participants.  Because the meetings are open, the feedback is less in-depth than it can be in a closed group, but even just the learning you get from reading aloud is more than worth it — and the support of other writers is great.  (Besides, you need to practice up for all those readings you’ll be doing on your book tours, right??)

Details for attending a TLE Writers’ Symposium:

When:  Mondays, 6-7:30 p.m. SLT (that’s Pacific time) and Thursdays, 8-9:30 a.m. SLT

Where:  The lovely Creative Showcase for Writers at TLE; SLURL to teleport there:  http://slurl.com/secondlife/Kimokeo%20Cove/103/38/22

To get notices:  TLE uses a non-Second Life notification system that doesn’t take any of the 25 SL group slots; to get these notices, join the “Authors & Books” group — either at TLE Web page for groups or in Second Life.

We’re a friendly, informal, supportive group — always open to more writers!

In addition to the TLE open-mic/support group, I’m planning to start in the near future a series of closed writers’ groups at Story Mountain.  These groups will be available via sign-up, and because they will consist of the same people week after week, will allow for more in-depth, ongoing and consistent feedback (allowing for some turnover, of course!).  There will be groups for different writing genres and levels, as well — for example, poets will meet with other poets and novelists with other novelists.  Watch for more details coming up.

If you’re in Second Life, have you also discovered how it condenses time?  What have your experiences been?  I’d love to hear about them, so please add your comments to this post and share with us all!

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Olaf Quintessa (1 comments.) April 25, 2009 at 7:23 pm

Very interesting! I think what you mean by condensing time is really condensing the world, or condensing space. The right people to be sharing with and learning with are all being brought closer. The issue with your hour’s drive to your nearest literary centre is alleviated with SL as soon as you log on – you then have the ability to “travel without moving”. I also sympathise with your comment about the hassles of finding babysitters – Not to be underestimated!

However, it still depends what timezone you live in. Being online at the same time as thousands of English-speaking users from the US or Europe is a definite advantage.

Olaf Quintessas last blog post..Techno Induction Hour Part 2

2 Joan Kremer (71 comments.) May 1, 2009 at 8:08 am

Hi Olaf,
Thanks much for your comment. You’re right that part of the benefit of SL is that it makes the world smaller by eliminating travel, as well as increasing access to information and events. And I agree about the timezone issue — I have friends in Australia, for instance, who complain that so many SL events are geared toward US and European times. Still, I think that will improve as more people and more events worldwide make use of the Internet and its virtual worlds. We’ll see, anyway!
Joan

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