written by David Steffen
We’ve posted here from time to time to point out useful writing websites and tools, but it occurs to me that I have never posted about Codex, which I’ve found to be extremely enjoyable and useful in a variety of ways.
So what is Codex? It is a website founded by Luc Reid which serves as a resource and gathering place for neo-pro speculative fiction writers. The primary draw of the site is the forum.
A neo-pro writer, for the purposes of membership, is a writer who has had some measure of success: a professional sale, completion of an audition-only writing workshop, some amount of self-publishing sales, representation by a reputable agent, or nomination for an award. The purpose of the membership requirement is not to be elitist, but to try to gather writers who are at a similar stage in their writing careers. The membership requirement shows that the members have some experience, some skill, some measure of sucess. There are plenty of forums for beginning writers, and it seems like most of their threads end up covering the same questions that almost all beginners ask, so that any longstanding member will see many of the same questions over and over and over. So this helps avoid that.
And, although the site is focused on neo-pro writers, there are quite a few writers there who have made loads of sales and won awards who are active on the forum. You can see a list of some of the members here (I’m not sure it’s a complete list, but it’ll give you an idea). Ken Liu, Cat Rambo, Tom Crosshill, to name a few that were nominated for Nebula or Hugo awards this year.
There are many draws to using the forum, including:
1. A place to ask for advice on writing, legal matters, submission etiquette from people who have some history of writing success.
2. A place to just have fun with those some people, to get to know them. Codex contributed a great deal to my enjoyment of WorldCon in 2012. I’m not great at interacting with strangers, but Codexians aren’t strangers. I ran into Codexians everywhere I went, and so I’d always have somebody to say hi to, and then I could meet new people more easily then. One of the highlights of the weekend was the Codex breakfast, about 30 of us getting together at a restaurant on that Saturday.
3. There are threads where people share market response times and excerpts from rejection letters, which can be useful if you’re waiting for responses from the same markets or just to congraultation/commiserate.
4. It’s a great place to share news of story acceptance, and of publication, and to hear similar news from the other members.
5. There are writing challenges and contests to encourage you to write, and a critique forum to get feedback on your unpublished stories (I haven’t participated in these at this point, but I can see the appeal).
6. If you have a bad experience with an editor or a publisher, and you want to talk to others about it, but you’re not comfortable talking about it on a more public place, this is a reasonably good place to do it. I’d stick to the facts though, don’t go on a rant, because some members might be friends with the person, or if that editor is also a writer they might even be a member themselves. There’s also a thread where such things can be posted anonymously so that you can share news of bad behavior without worrying about backlash.
If you meet the membership criteria, I encourage you to join. It doesn’t cost anything to be a member, so you don’t lose anything by trying it out. Even if it didn’t have more tangible benefits to my writing, I find that it makes me feel like I’m part of the community. Really, the more the merrier! If you do join up, I’ll see you there!
If you don’t meet the membership criteria, I encourage you to make this one of your milestones to celebrate progress in your writing career (much like SFWA membership eligibilty is for a lot of writers). If you want to know more about Codex, they have a pretty thorough FAQ page.