Clarion Journal, 2003

Sunday, June 08, 2003
The last leg of the drive up to Clarion was pretty uneventful - there was some pretty hard rain for a bit, but otherwise nothing of note. Oh, and you get to drive 70 moh in michigan - zooom! watch me go. (And I had lots of good time to think about "The Bulimic Shortstop" and what I want to do with it - it's going to be pretty short, so I'd like to get it submitted by Tuesday or Wednesday, you know, once I write it and all)

I did get lost twice on the way here today, but I realized my problem pretty quick, so I got fixed right up and back on the straight and narrow. No problems finding the dorm or anything like that. After I checked in and was walking back from parking in the remote lot, the skies opened and I got totally soaked - bleh. (Oh, but they did have some nice carts for brining all my crap in - two dtrips, totally painless.

The rooms aren't bad - small, but they have lots of built in storage space, so they don't feel all that small. The bed is way, way, too soft though - bleh.

I've met most of the folks (though I think I've forgotten most of the guys' names - so I'm not sure which of them I haven't met yet) and they all seem totally fun. Howard was a hoot, and he's first lesson for us was that "writing is hard" - that's going to be the most important thing we are going to learn this week.

We got 6 submission stories to read today - including one of mine (three for monday and three for tuesday, though some of them are very long) Mine's up tomorrow, and that's when I have my conference with Howard, too. eee! I gave him the Christmas tree story, too - I figure if Gardner refuses to reject the darn thing, then I'll rewrite it and send it back to him and he can just suffer through it twice.

OK, time for me to run off - I've got two stories to finish critting and then I want to write some.

posted by chance 10:26 PM
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Monday, June 09, 2003
A couple things I forgot to mention:

i. I am very sunburned - it's a silly farmer's tan, but I shall be looking muy pinky for the id pictures this morning.

ii. for some reason the heat was on in my room, with no way to turn it off, even though I had the window open.

iii. As reported by the other clarion classes - the chair to desk height is just awful - the keyboard sits much too high for comfort - won't be working at the desk very much from now on.

iv. I got a couple hundred words written on "The Bulimic Shortstop" but I was not very pleased with it. I think because it is wanting to be a more serious story than I'd originally intended - or perhaps not - it may just be a bit of anxiety.

v. And speaking of anxiety, yes, this is me up again after only 4 hours of sleep - I'll probably crawl back in a little bit and try to give it another go.

vi. I forgot to unpack my camera yesterday, in fact, I totally forgot I had brought it - but it is now unpacked and ready to go - look out today, folks *grins*

OK - i am off to play a round of the picture game to get my writing juices flowing.

posted by chance 5:11 AM
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Ok - fiddled with bulimic shortstop - am liking it better now - it's at around 600 words right now - I think it will eventually clock in at around 3000 words. It's just silliness, with no point or meaning, but sometimes that is good.

I also started working on another story I am calling "Skin to Skin" - it's an expansion on the selkie story I wrote for the picture game a while back - I'm figuring this will be around a 4000 word story when it's done.

Now I am going to crawl back to bed and see if I can get a bit more sleep before it's time to get up and face the music er get my bee story critiques.

posted by chance 5:47 AM
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Well, the first day of critiqueing went really well - I was impressed by both the level of writing and the level of critiques. I got some really good feedback on the bee story - the biggest problem that people seemed to pick up on as the lack of tension, which I hope I fixed in the rewrite that I sent off to WOTF.

I also had my conference with Howard this afternoon. I had given him the Christmas story to read, and he confirmed that the ending didn't quite work, and he made some suggestions but alas, he said it was pretty far from what he writes that he didn't really have any great suggestions for fixing the ending, but he did brainstorm a bunch and make suggestions.

During the session this morning he said that it was impossible to write a complete story under 3,000 words, and that I almost did, but not quite. He didn't think the framing device quite worked, and I want to think about his comments on that some more when I get back my entry from WOTF. I need to tie the resolution of the internal story more into the framing story more - he gave a great example from Heart of Darkness on how it ought to work.

He did say that he thought that both of my stories were potentially sellable if I could fix the endings, which was nice. Unfortunately he didn't have the magic formula for fixing them. *grins* He also confirmed my essential non-genreness by telling me not to limit myself to the SF mags when I shop them around again. (I just have no genre sensibility. *runs to the SF literary ghetto*)

I forgot to post this yesterday, but anyone who wants to, can send me mail at:
Cathy Morrison
Room W-506 Owen Graduate center
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48825-1109

*makes puppy eyes to encourage extra mail*

or please send me email here

posted by chance 3:22 PM
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Tuesday, June 10, 2003
We got our ID's after class today - but, boo, the woman wouldn't let us make funny faces for them. After that, Tammy, Matt and I ate in the Owen cafeteria - it was better than advertised (though we all had sandwiches or salad because the entrees looked pretty manky). I did a couple of crits and then we decided to break for dinner.

Of course putting Tammy, Jamie, Matt and me all in a car together is like sending us out as part of the Donner Party. We were planning on going just around the corner to a restaurant on Grand View and then over to Meijer for general shopping. At one point we had to decide between heading for Detroit or heading for Lansing.

Eventually we all got sorted out and ended up back where we started, and we were all feeling left at that point - unfortunately we could only turn right.

We went to a pretty ok mexican place for dinner - pretty cheap and I still have half my chicken quesadias for lunch or dinner tomorrow. Then we headed of to Meijer and I got a white board for my door, and some cherries (!) and assorted other fruit goodness. I also got a plant for my room to brighten things up a bit. (Unfortunately, Tammy left her cell in my car and had to hiker the 5 miles back to my car around 10ish)

After we got back I settled down and worked on "The Bulimic Shortstop" - added about a 1000 words so I amn clocking in around 1500 words - about half done. I'm going to try to get another 500 in before class tomorrow, and finish it up tomorrow night, with a quick editing pass in the morning before I hand it in on wednesday - I hope people like absurdist fiction, because it has a plot mostly in the theoretical sense.

Around 11 a bunch of us knocked off for a bit to play Wise and Otherwise - a sort of complete the proverb game. Sean, who had been seeming rather quiet showed he was the master of the hoarfrost and the Kentucky jelly - I laughed so hard I thought I was going to pee my pants.

And now I need to finish up my critiques for tomorrow before bed - here's hoping I'll be in bed before 2ish.

posted by chance 12:22 AM
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Another good day at class today - we critted 4 stories, so we ran a bit long compared to yesterday. Howard talked about how Will did some neat stuff in the frame of his story to create resonance. He also told the Raymond Carver story that he tells every time he teaches Clarion - wouldn't jave wanted to miss that. We also got another 5 manuscripts in the box, which means I still have 6 manuscripts to crit tonight, along with finishing my story.

After lunch we all went and had lunch in the cafeteria - pretty much everyone including Howard. That was totally fun, though the food definitely leaves something to be desired. Led by the examples of Matt and Tammy, most of us have decided to walk up and down the four flights of stairs (gee, thanks guys) so we won't just be better writers by the end, but in better shape, too.

After lunch I was all about napping for about an hour and a half, and then in a bit of work aversion I finished reading Last Call, which I've read before, but I still like muchly. I'd finally gotten into the habit of doing a bunch of reading, and I don't want to let that go now that I'm here at Clarion, so I've been reading for around half an hour before bed each night. Tonight I plan to start that Bester collection I'd bought a few weeks ago.

Well, I've pretty much finished eating the leftover quesadias I'd brought home from dinner last night, so I really don't have any more excuse not to get cracking on the writing or on the critting.

posted by chance 5:31 PM
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ARRRRRRGGGGGHHHHH!

I hate this story. It is not funny, not even a little. And everyone shall think I am a talentless hack as soon as they read it.

bleh.

bleh.

bleh.

posted by chance 6:54 PM
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Wednesday, June 11, 2003
Let's see - I finished up "The Bulimic Shortstop" and turned it in -- I'm feeling less like it sucks that I was last night, (of course, I also had food poisoning at the time, so I was feeling generally lousy and anxious - I spent much quality time in the bathroom between 2 and 5 last evening)

Another good day in class today - we went through 4 stories - all pretty interesting. I did manage to get all of them read except one before the sickness set in, and I got that one done this morning, so I was all good.

Only two stories turned in today and one of them was mine, so I only need to read three stories tonight to be all caught up - a pretty easy night, and then I should be able to get some writing done and still be ahead of the game. (I would really like to ge my story critiqued this week rather than waiting until Nalo's week)

After class, I came back to the room and had a really long nap - very needed after the lack of sleep last night. And then I read a couple of Bester stories - ooooo shiny. Sure shows you how it out to be done - now I am off to check my mail and submit my change of address card, then to work.

posted by chance 5:19 PM
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Thursday, June 12, 2003
There wasn't any writing goodness last night. I was a little too full of the glow of completion for "The Bulimic Shortstop" not to mention sleep deprivation from the night before. I caught up on all the manuscripts - I'm expecting a deluge today, so I should be in good shape.

The story I've had started for Nalo week was a Fantasy one (it's the selkie story) and there have been some really good SF stories so far and I am really itching to write something SFnal. So I spent a little time yesterday flipping through old Technology Reviews and I'll probably hit Science Daily today to see if there is any cool sciency stuff that sparks something new - I'm reading about clockless chips right now. hrm. hrm. hrm.

I was able to get all my work done pretty early (I had three stories to read to get current) by skipping the group dinner last night, which was really good, because it was a 3-1/2 hour jaunt for Indian food (which I don't like anyway)

No games last night - people were a bit too pooped. Jamie and I did spent a good bit of time distracting Ryan last night - that was fun because since he has to work 4 hours a day, he's hasn't been around too much. So we stood in the halls and scared all the non-Clarionites. In some bad news, Steph got a virus last night - a pretty nasty one. She has backups of most everything, and was able to make a disk copy of the one file that wasn't. She still needs to get some updated virus protection and clean her machine.

I also did much reading goodness last night - reading the Bester collection

Tonight is dinner out and then Howard's reading. I'm going to try to get all the new stories critted beforehand, and then writing goodness after, for at least an hour or two. I want to stay ahead of the game for producing the 6 stories, if at all possible.

More updates later.

posted by chance 8:15 AM
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Bit of a long morning this morning on the crit front - still very interesting, but I think we are starting to get a bit more longwinded (well, not me so much because I was already plenty wordy *grins*) We did talk a bunch about doing a bit more formal timekeeping, which I think would be a good idea, depending on how many stories are getting subbed - so far we are doing ok - but if people start producing more than a story a week it is go8ing to be a problem.

I'm hoping to get my story critted tomorrow while Howard is still here - I want to sub the selkie story for Nalo - it'll probably be a stylemonkey thing, although I'm not really sure how interesting it is going to be in the end - the setup is fairly pedestrian. Maybe I'll work on something else instead.

After that I am going to try something more SF - I'm muchly feeling the need to write something SF.

I have been pretty sluglike and not getting much exercise. So Matt and I went for a walk after lunch today, so I feel a bit better - the weather's been so gloomy that we haven't been out and about so much. (I was supposed to go to the gym with Tammy, but that fell by the wayside.) I definitely need to get back into the exercise routine (though I am doing really well at the no elevator clause *grins*)

I'm on my last crit for tomorrow (with one story submitted that won't get critted until next week, so I'll mostly be caught up.

posted by chance 4:28 PM
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Let's see - the reading by Howard totally rocked. He read two stories that will be coming out in new books "Ille Fit You" and "D=RT" both were great, but the second was my favorite. He opened the reading by offering a dollar to anyone who could tell him where the title came from. No one got it (and I don't remember so you all are out of luck), but Lance got a nickel for guessing it came from a Trojan commercial.

The second was a 50's coming of age summer story with go carts, Rocket Boy, Lucky Stikes bubble gum cigarettes, a siren name Therese, and the plainish girl who gets the boy. It wasn't a speculative story, and I think the best way to describe it was Yowza!

My favorite line of the night was when Howard realized there was a shelf below the table he was reading from, and that we all could look through the space below the table top - he promptly announced "You all can see my crotch"

Dinner was very eh - but I rode to the bookstore with Howard, Lister and Lister's son Callum - I tried to pump Callum for embarrassing stories about Lister - he promised to email me some later, so watch out Lister.

posted by chance 9:41 PM
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Friday, June 13, 2003
I forgot to mention that I tripped and fell on the stairs on the way down to Howards dinner/reading last night - I've got the biggest purpliest bruise on my but. I've also got another stomach ache that lasted all night and day from eating out - not sure what's up with that - I'm feeling better now, but mostly because I haven't been eating.

I had another shot at getting critted today, and I think "The Bulimic Shortstop" left most folks for a loss - by and large people enjoyed it (and even a lot of people who don't care much for baseball stories liked it) but I think folks had a bit of trouble providing constructive comments at the parts where it failed to satisfy. (And I'm not surprised. baseball stories definitely appeal to only a certain portion of the population, absurdist ones even more so, and I was trying some experimental structure stuff to boot)

And I think that included Howard - I got the definite feeling this was not his cup of tea. And that it was hard for him to comment on it. The sort of advice he gave me didn't really gibe with the way I thought the story ought to move (see cathy ignore pro, see cathy never get published ...) but I think this was more a Howard story than Nalo, so I think I was right to get it this week (and thanks to Sean for letting me go ahead of him.) Sigh. I was a little sad that Howard never ran up to the chalkboard and revealed fascinating things about my story that I never knew. Sigh. That's when I decided that my writing is not really his cup of tea.

I'm going to bring it to my conference with Kelly Link in a few weeks, because of all the instructors, I think it is most her kind of story.

The most interesting crit came from Tom, who had somehow divined a silent movie analogy featuring Ben Turpin, Lon Chaney, and Fatty Arbuckle which was really fascinating and made me wish that was the story I had written. But alas, I didn't, though I am going look into some of the stuff he mantioned, just because it sounded so cool. I was also really happy that at least one person got the Kinsella reference (the god of modern baseball stories IMHO)

As far as the structure of the story goes, I was trying to create a triptych - three pictures that link to form one picture, and I think most people picked up on that, and generally it seemed to work for people. So as far as a writing experiment I was generally pleased with the way that part turned out. (I have a tendency to be a very linear writer, and one of the things I really wanted to do at Clarion was work on trying to integrate structure more into the story telling - using that as another facet of the story, to create resonance as Howard would say)

I'm going to post the story on the workshop - so anybody following this journal can take a peek at my writing (you do have to join, but it's pretty painless, and there is a month free trial so anybody who just wants to see my stories for the duration of Clarion sure can, but I encourage you (well, anyone who's a writer) to give it a shot, because there are a great bunch of reviewers who are members.

ok - week one wrap up coming later on today or tomoorrow.

posted by chance 5:45 PM
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Ok - forgot to mention - my user name on the workshop is chance m and the story is titled "The Bulimic Shortstop"

Oh, and many hugs to Jaime, who is my new absolute favorite for sending me goodies. Thanks!

posted by chance 5:51 PM


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