IWSG: taking Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass

Hello and welcome to the first Wednesday of the month, otherwise known as the official meeting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG). The IWSG is a super secret, crazy exclusive group of writers who band together to support each other. If you’d like to get to know the other members, read about their writing adventures, and perhaps sign up yourself, click here to discover everything you need to make that happen.


This week my mind is full of Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass. I plan to review the class here when I’ve completed it, but I’m taking my time to glean as much of Neil’s story sorcery as I can. I’m on Lesson 4 of 19, a week from beginning and I am buzzing with quiet inspiration and small thrills of discovery. This is a sensation I often get from taking writing classes, which I get to do every few years and not often enough. The alchemy of immersing myself in writing craft with a guide I admire is a delight.

There are such nuggets of Neil gold in there too. I’ve probably worn my readers’ ears off raving about Neil Gaiman. Fun fact: while he is my favorite writer, I do not love, or always like, everything he writes which somehow makes him stand out all the more.

Two quotes from the class have made it into my notebook, to be tattooed across my writing desk’s wooden flesh in some distant future. The first, has elicited a few gasps in conversation, and let me tell you, packs a wallop in the lecture, is about showing vs telling:

“I’m not going to tell you to feel sad. I’m going to kill a unicorn and break your heart.” – Neil Gaiman.

That line got to me. Wow.

From another lesson, this quote helped me pick myself up on a day with multiple rejection letters, which always gets to me. I can handle one per day. Two hurts.

“You learn more from finishing a failure than you do from writing a success.” – Neil Gaiman.

I have written multiple failures, and I’ll write many more. It’s good to be reminded that those stories do have a purpose.

(FYI that line does ring a bit familiar from an essay in The View from the Cheap Seats, but there is little regurgitated material thus far in the class).

In terms of output, I’ve outlined a new short story from the assignments in Lesson 3, and I will have to complete another before moving onto Lesson 5. This second one I’m expected to write in a single setting but as a toddler’s mother… I expect it will have to be flash fiction for me to pull it off. Unless you’re willing to babysit, hmm?

This is the most writing heavy course I’ve taken before, which is perfect for a hibernation-friendly month like February in Canada. It’s going to be an inspiring month.

Submit Your Stories Sunday: the People’s Preservatory

Welcome to this week’s edition of Submit Your Stories Sunday! Every week I bring you a unique call for submissions to help you find a home for your stories or inspire a new one. Each call will contain a speculative element and will offer payment upon acceptance.


The People’s Preservatory

Eligibility: Anonobot is seeking strange, possibly humorous, speculative fiction up to 3000 words. Original fiction only, please.

Take Note: there is no specific theme to this anthology, however I recommend you read their wacky call of submissions carefully to get a sense of their taste.

What makes this call stand out: writers can submit up to three pieces for this call

Payment: $0.08 per word up to 3k, or $1.00 per line of poetry (minimum $15).

Submit by: March 15th, 2018

Click here to go to the original call for details.

Something to inspire your writing:

It can be tricky to get going on a story for a call without any theme at all. An abyss of possibilities yawns at your feet. So… besides weird and wacky, what do you do? This is part where I usually recommend a book.

Instead, I’m going to hone in on that weird and wacky element and point you in a direction to creatively “compost” some ideas with those same weird and wacky labels. Neil Gaiman says that stories are born of confluence, of two ideas colliding, and he knows his writing.

One place I like to hunt for that confluence is Magic Realism Bot on twitter. This is a bot account, following an algorithm of mishmash that can end up absurd, strange, weird, and occasionally, like something out a fairy tale. With upwards of 16k tweets under its circuits, I can always find a spark when I’m stuck for an idea. And they are usually weird and wacky.

Here’s a few screenshots I pulled to give you an idea:2019-02-02 19.18.35.png

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If you like what you see, head on over to the blue bird and follow Magic Realism Bot for all the free story fodder you can retweet in a day.

News and Things:

Have you heard about Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass yet? Of course I signed up for my favorite writer’s writing class and I’m excited to review here on the blog for you. However, I am not willing to rush through it and miss a single delicious drop of Neil’s story sorcery.