The last day of Milford crits has arrived. We sit around the crit room with horizontal rain blowing across the wild Welsh hills outside. Five more stories to crit today.
Vaughn Stanger’s story is up first. It’s a follow on short story from one he presented at Milford in 2013. Some of us read the earlier one, others didn’t, but we have to crit the story as a standalone.
Sarah K Ellis’s story is about the complexities of human interraction and how to tell the difference between humans and synths in a future where synths are almost perfect.
Steph Bianchini’s piece is a weird cadet school story which divides opinions, pro and con.
It’s 4.00, which makes in cake o’clock. We amble up to the Plas for cake and then gather to take the Milford photograph. We try some indoor shots because the weather is showery, but suddenly the sun comes out and we dash outside and get the perfect shot.
Back to the crit room for two more crits. Terry has brought a sequel to a book some of us have read before. We finish with Liz’s story about The Ontologist.
And then Milford crits are over for another year. Tonight we discuss markets for the pieces we’ve critted this week. And tomorrow we’re going into Caernerfon for pub lunch and a trip around the castle
Not much time for blogging today with five pieces to critique this afternoon and the Milford AGM after dinner which then devolved into a general conversation and, later, finished up with four of us diehards in the library talking about the state of science fiction internationally.
Suyi Davis Okungbowa opened our eyes to the state of speculative fiction in Nigeria. Steph Bianchini jumped in with snippets about all the countries she’s lived and worked in, and Sarah K. Ellis, and American currently living and working in Japan added local knowledge. Fascinating stuff.
Our AGM went well. It’s obvious that Milford is currently enjoying a strong revival thanks to the work of the committee. It’s extremely well supported and looking forward to new and exciting projects. All the current committee members were re-elected and Dolly Garland was coopted to address our social media profile. The committee for 2017-2018 now consists of:
Chair: Dave Gullen
- Secretary: Jacey Bedford
- Treasurer: Tina Anghelatos
- Vice Chair: Liz Williams
- Committee: Kari Sperring
- Committee: Sue Thomason
- Committee: Karen Williams
- Committee: Jim Anderson
- Committee: Dolly Garland *NEW*
We have also set the dates for Milford 2020 – 12th – 19th September. Booking for that won’t open until this time next year, but booking for 2019 opens at the end of this week. 2019 dates are 14th – 21st September.
Milford 2018 is 15th – 22nd September. At the time of writing there are only two places left, though we do operate a waiting list system. More information from the web page.
So that’s all the business out of the way. We have one more day of critting and then Friday – demob happy – we’re heading to Caernarfon for shopping, a trip around the castle and a pub lunch. Yay!
One day slides into the next… and suddenly it’s Wednesday. How did that happen? Yesterday we reached the halfway point on crits, so we have only another two days to go, another ten pieces to crit, with sixteen pieces completed already.
Suyi Davies Okungbowa
Morning starts off quite wet, then suddenly gives way to this beautiful amount of sun we’re not expecting. Some take this opportunity to slink away to Mordor and return without any Gandalf Eagles (looking at you Vaughan and Dolly). Some, like me, try to enjoy the warmth before the skies change mood again (and they do flip into the Darth Vader of skies before evening).
Crits start earlier because we’ve got six today. Contrary to our expectations that it’s gonna be gruelling, I find it even more thoughtful than yesterday. It seems Milford gets better by the day; if this goes on, I could end up on a real high on Friday, and Saturday could easily find me experiencing premature withdrawal symptoms. Cue tears and wailing and clinging to the pillar outisde the Plas.
My story’s up for crits tomorrow. Here’s to feeling the same way afterwards.
What to say? Well. it’s Tuesday here now. I think. You lose track of time at Milford very quickly. That’s part of the attraction. My first crit is over, and I’ve survived unscathed. Everyone has now had one draft critiqued, so the atmosphere is pretty relaxed. Some have not left the dining room yet, from whence comes a lot of laughter and a few shouts. Here in the library some of us are sitting around in the comfy seats and Jacey is playing with my Kindle Fire, testing it’s keyboard which is a separate case with a bluetooth connection. I’ve been testing it out myself by doing this year’s crits on it for the first time – so far it hasn’t lost anything.
Sitting in a crit session listening to the crit going round the room. Matt’s story is up: The Shelf Stackers of Eternity. Great title. I’ve delivered my crit. I didn’t have much to say because I really liked the piece. I just had a couple of minor nitpicks. Sue next, then Suyi. Sarah likens the institution in the story to a Silicon Valley version of Amway. Terry addresses the minutiae and picks up a few things that I missed. The timer goes off after three minutes to warn you when to wind up. Some people push their four minutes to the limit, others are short and sharp. Then it’s Steph’s turn, She talks with her hands as well as her voice. Jackie next with some insightful questions. Then Val who says he’s read a different story to everyone else. He has philosophical questions about baseline reality. Tiff takes the plot apart nit by pick. Dolly has questions. Phil dittoes. Mark doesn’t say much but he’s spot on with what he does say. Vaughan is always good on structure and clarity. Liz gets the last word before Matt’s right of reply. Matt gets to answer questions and thanks everyone for the crits.
Looking out from my window, at the mountains beyond the trees, I realise just how much I love being here at Trigonos. The Milford experience is one to treasure. This is my fourth time as a participant, so I know what to expect. It’s great re-connecting with such wonderful writers. A reflective morning of writing is bolstered by breakfast conversations around mind control (well, we are speculative fiction writers). Now I have a precious couple of hours to work on my own writing, before turning my attention to the main focus of being here: the afternoon critiquing sessions. That can be quite intense, but also incredibly professional and supportive. And there’s chocolate too. There’s no substitute for the level of in-depth and insightful comments you receive from a group like this. Ah, here comes the rain again. Well, it is September in Wales. And yes, it’s also quite inspiring for writing (though not so great for walking and appreciating the amazing countryside). I have brought my walking boots, though. So, fingers crossed.