It Takes a Foulburg

I’m back from the annual Odyssey workshop alumni week, where we lecture and critique and live in steamy dorms again. Highlights included reading my story from the Homeless Moon 3 chapbook, “NEW! The ‘Gearwork Rose'(TM) Automated Gratification Engine,” aloud at the Barnes & Noble reading, learning more about writerly promotion and how to read aloud, and (as always) drinking fine and eclectic beers with Mike DeLuca.

Another big highlight for me was a couple long conversations with several people about a point I’ve reached in my writing. For several years now, I’ve been consistently getting my stories passed up by slush readers but not bought by the head editors. These stories are as good as I know how to make them, but I still haven’t been able to crack through.

So I’ve arrived at a crossroads. And unlike in the fine Southern mythical tradition, the devil was not waiting there to cut a deal with me. But hashing out some possible new projects and tweaks to my approach, with several supremely supportive and insightful writers, showed me a few really neat new paths to explore.

Although the drinking of fine beers is one of the main reasons I go, the writerly insight and discussion is right up there too. It’s a lot like hashing over scientific problems with a research group–arriving at insight by both talking and listening, an individual insight that’s a product of the group whole. Of course, the process is only as good as those other people you’re hashing with, and these were some of the best I know. It truly does take a whole foulburg.


(“Foulburg” is supposed to be a term that means the shanty-town outside the walls of a medieval city, but from googling I fear that it originated with 80s epic fantasy author Raymond E. Feist and isn’t an actual recognized term. But why let the truth get in the way of a cool line? :) )

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2 Responses to “It Takes a Foulburg”

  1. Christopher Kastensmidt Says:

    And I’m stuck here in the Global Foulburg that is the Internet! :)

    Hope the new writing tweaks take off.

  2. scott Says:


    Thanks very much–I appreciate it. It’s a long quest, but I hope to reach Mordor soon. Wait a minute–I’m not sure that’s a place I want to be going…. :)