Clarion abú

I’m back in Ireland. I’m still alive, and I survived the Clarion West experience.

I gave up blogging, as you’ll have noticed from the dearth of entries, because I didn’t have the spare energy.

I’m not usually one for stats, but here’s what I did during Clarion:

Ist week: 3,200
2nd week: 4,400
3rd week: 3,400
4th week: 7,700
5th week: 8,000
6th week: 6,700

That’s 33,400 words over 6 weeks, which is approximately 5,500 words per week. That’s not that great, really. If I analysed it closely, the longest it took me to complete a story was 3 days. I averaged about 1,855 words a day in that case–although on some days I wrote much more than that. As soon as I handed in a story I was thinking about the next one, but I normally had a few days off during which I pondered the next idea before writing it.

The reason my week 5 statistic is so high is that I wrote two stories that week. I finished one on the Monday night, and when I mulled it over Tuesday I didn’t feel confident about handing it in to the group. So, on Tuesday night at 10pm I wrote a new story that was nearly twice the length of the original within 24 hours–during which I slept (very little), ate, and critted the stories of my classmates.

Yet, this is nothing compared to the output of some of my fellow students. I was writing slower at Clarion than normal, and that’s because at least five of the stories were imagined at the workshop, and four of them were written on the fly with blind faith in my unconscious mind to steer me in the right direction.

I pushed myself during Clarion. My attitude was that I wouldn’t be able to replicate the experience so I experimented with stories, and even when my reservoirs were low I made myself write, and do new things.

I’ve come out of Clarion with 6 short stories, five of which need revision, but have potential, and one that requires extensive work–I’ll probably have to gut it completely or just use one of the characters in a totally different story.

Each of our instructors are awesome in completely different ways. I want to offer tremendous thanks to Paul Park, Maureen McHugh, Ian R. MacLeod, Nalo Hopkinson, Ellen Datlow, and Vernor Vinge for their patience, advice and generosity.

My fellow classmates are talented, funny and good-natured. I made deep friendships during the course, and it’s almost too hard to consider that it’s unlikely that all of us will ever be in the same place again together. I look forward to seeing their work in publications (that is a certainty), and meeting them at future conventions.

We couldn’t have asked for a better line-up of teachers and students.

Leslie and Neile, the administrators of the workshop, are fine human beings, and paragons of efficiency and thoughtfulness.

I miss them all.

I think I’ve learned a lot, but it will be a long time before I can fully assess the impact Clarion has had upon my writing.

Mostly, I feel lucky to have spent 6 weeks in the company of wonderful people where I had the time and opportunity to discuss the craft, laugh, and write.


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