The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia
19 August 2009
Home from Clarion
I got home from the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop on the 8th and have been trying to catch up on sleep and work since. Yes, Clarion is as arduous, overpowering, and soul-changing as everyone says. And, yes, it was well worth it.
I’ll be blogging on Sunday (23 August) at Novel Spaces about the Clarion method of instruction. So I’ll skip that here and talk instead about the experience of Clarion and what I got out of it.
•Perhaps most important over the long haul: seventeen new best friends and critiquing partners, each one brilliant, creative, original, and inspiring. Most writers only dream of having such support, and I count myself very lucky to have them.
•I got to know the six professional writers who gave up a week (or in some cases two weeks) to teach and guide us: Holly Black, Larissa Lai, Robert Crais (a former Clarionite), Kim Stanley Robinson (at left; also a former Clarionite), Elizabeth Hand, and Paul Park. Each came to Clarion with strong—but different—opinions, so we got an assortment of perspectives on our own writing, craft in general, and the spec fic market.
•The quality and originality of other students’ stories encouraged me to push myself and to try new approaches and techniques.
•I left my reading and writing comfort zone. In the past, I avoided reading literary and experimental fantasy, in large part because I didn’t understand the point of stories without plots, or without character development, or with oblique endings. At Clarion, I did read it, and I could ask the authors, “What does this mean?” “How do I go about finding that meaning?” “How should I read things like this?” I learned to appreciate such stories, and then I wrote two experimental stories of my own.
•I now have four stories that I think may sell to good markets once I look over all the comments I received at Clarion and revise the stories.
•It was a wonderful luxury to spend six weeks reading, writing, and talking about reading and writing, with no need to prepare meals, tend to the yard, pay bills, call repair people, or deal with the other distractions that normally interfere with writing time.
•I lost two pounds of my "Katrina Fifteen."
•I saw some breath-taking southern California scenery.
I not only saw an ocean, I stepped into it! (Proof at right.) For someone who’s spent most of her life in the Midwest and South, that’s a big deal. I also discovered that with enough clothes on and the aid of a hat and big umbrella, even someone with lupus can enjoy hanging out at the beach.
Charles Allen Gramlich (who was interviewed at this blog in May 2007) has a new book out. Write with Fire: Thoughts on the Craft of Writing is a collection of articles and essays on writing and publishing. As at his Razored Zen blog, Charles' advice is clear, concise, and spot on. Write with Fire is available at Amazon.com and at Barnes & Noble.
Update on Like Mayflies in a Stream
Like Mayflies in a Stream now has an official release date: October 5. It will be available then at online bookstores, at some brick-and-mortar bookstores, and by order from your favorite bookstore.
I also have one signing lined up already: at the World Fantasy Convention in San Jose, California (29 October–1 November 2009). I’ll post the date and time when I know it myself.