expanding the mind

The first week has rushed part. I’m in awe of the organisational skills of the Clarion West administrators. Their twenty-one years of experience has refined the workshop into an efficient system that emphasises writing, and respect.

Paul Park is a gentleman; an expert in the Socratic method of teaching, he wants to help you spin your ideas in new ways, and becomes animated when a different perspective intrigues him. Listening to him read is a pleasure. I’ve learned a great deal already, much more than I expected. After the opening session I navigated the labyrinthine house to my room, my mind buzzing with minor revelations, and I thought: this is just the first day!

The weather has turned sunny and hot, which is nice in the mornings and evenings. I’ve a room with many dressers that is cooled by a refreshing cross-breeze. I decorated it with cut-out photographs, a poster of a George Littlechild painting I picked up for half-price in a local book store, a cobalt blue sarong from Africa, and a orange-pink paisley pashmina. I bought a black fake-stain robe, decorated with embroidered dragons and peacocks, in one of the many second-hand shops clustered in this district. It was a bargain, and draped over the back of a closet it adds colour and interest to the room. A bunch of violet and indigo flowers purchased at the Farmer’s Market this morning brings fragrance and life to my writing den.

I look out my window and an athletic frat boy, wearing a pair of long white shorts, sneakers, and a cowboy hat, strolls past as he talks on his cell phone. It almost makes up for their noisy presence.

My companions on this journey are funny, generous, and considerate. We’re a diverse bunch, which is fantastic. Already I’m impressed with the stories, concepts and ideas, and it’s invigorating to live in this writer-rich environment.

I’m looking forward to meeting Maureen McHugh tomorrow. Her latest collection of short stories, Mothers and other Monsters, is superb (and I don’t state that because she’s a McHugh, or my instructor, but because it is true).

I’m happy with what I’ve been writing, especially since I’m generating a lot of new ideas, and not relying on concepts I brought with me to Seattle. There is huge room for improvement – you could fit continents, planets, or universes in that space. I hope to narrow that gap somewhat during the next five weeks. I’d be happy if it will only swallow a galaxy or two, and not all space and time.

Enough prevarication. I’ve worlds to explore.


  • Mallory

    Lovely descriptions but where are the pictures??? And, I heard something about the class receiving anenomies from Vonda McIntyre – Paul Parks seems like he was a fab teacher!Just ignore my whining – I’m just a huge CW fan 🙂

  • Sean McCormack

    Glad to see it’s working out well for you Maura. Hope the rest of the time goes well too. I’d actually love to spend some time in Seattle but I’d really have to force a life change here and I suspect it may not happen too soon. Although now that I’m actually driving things are changing a little.

  • Jack

    Socratic method of writing? If he offers you anything to drink, turn it down. 😉 Sounds like you’re having a blast. Enjoy the Seattle sun for as long as it lasts.

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