Clarion Journal, 2003

Monday, June 23, 2003
Week 2 Wrapup

It all about the numbers (cumulative totals in parentheses):

Stories Written - Zero (2)
Stories Abandoned - Zero (1)
Words Written - Zero (4500)
Story Ideas in the Queue - Still Holding at 3
Stories Critiqued - 20 (21 this week total - 33/36 for the two weeks)

This was not a good writing week for me at all. The Iceland story was not coming together at all, and the computer troubles did not help my focus. I've completely revamped the focus on it and I'm going to start working on it immediately after class (unless my computer is ready to be picked up)

Good bye genetics story, hello bush protest story (eee! i've got a president cheney in my story.)

Yesterday afternoon we (onathan, Ryan and myself)were discussing
Jonathan's dedcision to not mention any Clarion folks' names - even if means only obliquely thanking Tammy for organizing the barbeque this week.

We decided that he ought to just use code names for people - after discarding things like states, and my personal favorite - the man in black for Ryan, we all settled on presidents. (The connections we made were pretty darn funny, but I suppose I ought not to post them) I'm Teddy Roosevelt, so if you hear him mention old TR, now you know.

One of the most interesting things Nalo said this past week was her personal definitions of what is SF and fantasy -

SF explores the fact that we are tool users, always shaping and changing our environment.

Fantasy explores the fact that we tell ourselves stories to explain what we can't understand.

Nalo told us a lot of interesting things about the business of being a writer, most particularly that periodically she doesn't know where she will be getting her rent from. Pretty sobering thought, especially since her fist two novels both earned out their advances.

She generally earns her living through a combination of writing, speaking engagements, teaching and when necessary, temp work.

posted by chance 8:32 AM
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Still no word on my laptop - I called over and the guy who it was assigned to was not in this afternoon.

Iceland story is dead for now - I hate it. Moving on to the Boston Police Strike story instead - that one's been kicking around in my head for a long time, and I've just never written it, but it is time for me to get words on the page, now now now.

posted by chance 1:56 PM
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A hearty welcome to all the Clarion Westies who start today.

Apparently Nancy Kress has asked them not to blog because she feels that's time that could be better spent writing.

Which I can see on a level, but writing this journal helps me to focus and organize my thoughts on the things we covered in class (even if it never makes it into the journal, because we aren't supposed to talk about specifics of peoples critiques or stories.)

For example, Sean turned in a story with a non-linear timeline, which I think was one of the most effective things about it, but didn't completely work. When Richard diagrammed the structure on the chalkboard, and showed how he jumped the pattern, which made the story unneccessarily confusing.

Definitely something I will be thinking about next time I write a nonlinear story.

Really like Richard as a teacher. I think his critiques are harsher and more pointed than either Nalo or Howard - not a bad thing, in my opinion.

Worked together an outlinish thing for the new story. go team!

posted by chance 3:24 PM
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Nalo reports on her experiences this past week at clarion here. (much thanks to celia for the link)

posted by chance 3:44 PM
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Tuesday, June 24, 2003
Don't expect much journalling for the next couple of days - I'm trying to write what I think will be a 10k story this week - to be turned in by Thursday.

3k down, 7k to go. I shall be a hermit for the next two days.

*dives back in to get a few more words before class*

posted by chance 7:48 AM
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Wednesday, June 25, 2003
Quick entry before bed.

Another good day in class. Learned a lot, though I did notice that my opinions were frequently at odds with Richard's.


(Though it was funny when he spent a bunch of time explaining why Ryan's story did not end on page 12; I still secretly know it did.)

Finished up all my critiques, though one of them took and extremely long time *yawns*

good writing day on the story, though I really wish I had more time to work on it. Word count is up to 5700 words - 3500 today - go team. I think I like the story, or will once it's really come together. But it won't before I need to submit it, and I am so not staying up all night, just not happening.

well, maybe

got word on my computer today - $813 to repair ($500 from my pocket) the bad news is that it could take up to two weeks - so I need to get the insurance company decision as soon as possible.


posted by chance 12:03 AM
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Well, I think I may have found the right ending for the story. Up to 6400 words this morning - maybe another 2500 to go. Then much editing and tightening. I've written the ending scene, but not the climax.

I think the ending is going to annoy the crap out of people. But it feels right and real, so we shall see.(At the very least I have discarded the first three endings I thought of. *grins*)

posted by chance 7:41 AM
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Thursday, June 26, 2003
Stupid blogger won't let me post yesterday.

I got my story done - clocks in just around 9000 words, a little bit less. I think people may complain it starts a bit slowly, but I think it's important to really get a sense of Mary's world before things start going nuts.

I'm pretty pleased with the way it turned out. It'll need a good bit of work after, but definitely a story I won't let go after Clarrion.

Ok, must do a quick editing pass before I print it out.

posted by chance 6:34 AM
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A quick entry before class this morning. We are definitely starting to see some of the strain of producing and critting in folks. Things are getting a lot more edgy, and though we have managed not to be too incredibly cliquey, it's obvious that there are some folks who don't care for other folks all that much.

Critiques were a bit harder yesterday, too, I think. Except for Matt's story, which was just exceptional - best story yet, of all the ones turned in here at Clarion. I hope it finds a good home. Showed some real range for him too.

The last three days have been pretty tough for me - I've been feeling a lot of self-imposed pressure to get something in so I can get feedback from Richard on it. And because it was so long, I really had to push to get it finished. 2000 words is a very good day for me- the 5000 word day I had on Tuesday was simply exhausting (and I'd never have managed it if I hadn't had a really good idea of where the story arc was going. ) This story has been kicking around in my head ever since 9/11. (Though it ended up being way less about the erosion of rights in our society than I had intended. I'm ok with that - message stories generally irritate me anyway.)

I really like Richard, he gives some great feedback, on some of the tougher things to analyze, like story structure.

I'll be interested to see what he thinks of the ending - I think it's the right one, but not sure if it's 100 percent right yet. He said on Monday he doesn't much care for short stories with alternating point of views (though this is techinically a novelet), so I will be interested to here his opinion on that. I think the story really needs to be told from both Sully's and Mary's POV because it is the story of both of them, and even more, the story of them as a couple. (At least that's how I see it.) I have my conference with Richard this afternoon, so we shall see what he says.

I'll be interested to think of what the group thinks of Sully-he's frequently a jerk, but I'm pretty fond of him.

posted by chance 8:22 AM
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The computer is off to apple to get repaired - hopefully things will go ok. Supposedly I should get it back in around a week. I miss my little guy. (who happens to be named oscar)

I want to start work on my new story tonight - I am going to skip the dinner and noap and then go to Richard's reading - I think he is going to do something from his new book, and then maybe something short. I have a couple of ideas on deck I want to work with, so we shall see.

Turned my story in the box, it was the only one in there today. Which works out well for the group - I ws feeling a little guilty that my story is so long when it looked like we were going to get 5 stories in the box today.

posted by chance 1:17 PM
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Suck It Up and Write!

I think that's the most important thing I've learned at Clarion to date. I've been a little afraid of writing this novelet (now called "The Good Cop") for a long time - afraid of the length, sustaining the story over so many words, writing a story with a fairly strong political point of view without letting it turn into a preachy mess, but probably most of all crapping up an idea I really liked and never being able to get it back.

The story idea had been sitting in my brain since shortly after 9/11 and I've been doing periodic research and extensive notes in that hand wavy way that initially was important to get the context of the story right, but has long since turned into a delaying tactic.

And I learned this week that if you never try to write it, you will never know how it will turn out. I'd been trying to force an idea to gel all last week and it never did. So I was faced with the challenge of starting cold on Monday and pushing right through so I would have something to turn in by today. And that meant I needed to use a story idea that was pretty well developed and plotted out.

When I sat down on monday and I outlined the story, I was pretty afraid of the scope of what I was trying to do - write 10-12k in three days? who am I kidding - 2000 words a day is a very good day for me. But I pushed right ahead, figuring I needed to go for it (I also really wanted to write an SF story this week, since Richard is very much an SF writer)

I've never been very good at writing longer stories, sustaining the energy in the lat middle in particular and my longest story to date was somewhere around 6k.

So I told myself I had to do it.

And what do you know? I wrote 9k in three days (including one day where I wrote around 5k) There's probably one scene missing from the story, and the ending isn't quite right. But generally I was pleased with the way it turned out.

I had my conference with Richard this afternoon, and we talked about some ways to fix those problems. I think I have a pretty good handle on what to do, and I may try a rewrite this weekend.

I am also pretty interested in writing the Babe Ruth novella when I get home - that I've been petrified of writing, but now I'm feeling much more up for the challenge.

Let's see - advice to future Clarionites - try to get the last conference of the day. Both of my conferences in the previous weeks were earlier in the day, so when the next person came, we had to end it. In Nalo's case in particular, I would have liked a few more minutes to go over the story a little more. Talked to Richard for around an hour - about the new story and the one submission story he read. Then some general chat about the Clarion experience, and being a full time writer. It was nice to be last.

Some more advice - don't nap before the readings, or if you do, set an alarm - slept through Richard's reading tonight - boo! hiss!

We lost a bit of our energy this week - far less stories than in any other week, two people didn't turn in new stories, and only two double submits. I'm glad the pace is easing a little on the critting front. We are all getting a bit frazzled to I think it's good for us.

posted by chance 9:16 PM
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