• half-way

    Ian MacLeod knows character, and thankfully he shared his thoughts on the subject with our class. He’s gentle, clever, and possesses a love for the classics. In particular he was very helpful in the one-on-one conference, and offered effective advice on how I could re-draft this week’s story. We’ve been very lucky with the instructor line-up thus far. They’ve been supportive and generous with their time, and downright likeable. We’re half-way through Clarion, and thus far we’re doing well. The standard of the stories continues to rise, even though they are all first drafts people are rushing to submit to deadline. It’s not easy to hand in work that you…

  • July?

    Time passes quickly when you’re busy. Maureen follows the McHugh tradition of being a sweetheart and a formidable woman. She’s a wise teacher, with a keen insight into story difficulties coupled with smart suggestions for possible solutions. Her reading of “Laika Returns Home Safe” (one of my favourite pieces from her short story collection) on Tuesday night had people in tears because of its poignancy. My classmates have produced terrific work for first drafts written under pressure. I’ve written a short story, and survived the critiquing session. The comments were useful and direct, which was what I needed. I hope to start cracking on my new piece today. I’ve been…

  • 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…

  • top tip for Seattle residents

    Paul Park is a wonderful reader (out loud, of course he can read), and those of you who are available can hear him tomorrow at the Science Fiction Museum, at 7.30pm in the JBL Theatre. It costs a mere 4 bucks; you can hardly buy a venti soya frappe honey-glazed coffee in this town for that price. Instead of Jon Stewart‘s Moment of Zen, I’ll offer you Maura’s Overheard (because they’re shouting) Student Conversation: “If I fucking get cougar checks I’m going to be pissed!”

  • on the brink

    Seattle has this trick of fooling you in the morning into thinking that the weather will be dull, and then springing a sunny afternoon and evening upon you. You’d swear I was at home… except for the awesome coffee shops, which are legion. So far the Seattle science fiction community has been incredibly warm and welcoming, although the mere mention that I’m a Clarion West student results in dire warnings of stress and sleep loss, along with assurances it’ll be the best experience of my life. I’ve nothing but praise for the Clarion West admin (and volunteers) who have been efficient, helpful, and supportive. The Locus Awards were fun, and…

  • "There's nothing I don't cherish."

    I’m making progress on a new story idea. I’m pondering the use of a specific structure, and researching the story that will match it. It’s fun. I’m taking the approach of saturating my mind with lots of data, and letting it make the necessary story and character leaps and connections in its own time. Yesterday, a pair of headphones I ordered turned up. They’re serious gaming headphones, with microphone and inline volume control, which are comfortable with fantastic sound quality. These will be very useful for both online communication and shutting out the world with music while I hack away at stories during Clarion. I watched Final Fantasy VII: Advent…

  • zug zug

    Soon I’ll be heading for the airport. I’ve already printed out the boarding pass for my Seattle flight – the miracle of online booking. As a “sorry you’re on your own for 7 weeks” gift I bought Martin the World of Warcraft game. Now we have broadband he can play it. WoW went down a treat. He entered the office with the box clutched in his fist, and only emerged infrequently afterwards. It will take some of the sting out of my extended absence. I will miss Martin a great deal. He has been incredibly supportive of my career decisions throughout our relationship, and I consider myself lucky and blessed…

  • almost ready

    Only a couple of minor tasks remain, and then I’ve an appointment with a number of books for the rest of the evening. I’ve had little to no time to work up new story ideas. I will be in Seattle, however, for a number of days before the workshop so I’ll schedule time with my thinking cap. Plus, it’s a looooong travel day for me tomorrow. I’ll keep a pen and paper handy. I’m attending a number of events as part of the Locus Awards and Science Fiction Hall of Fame Weekend, which is being held June 16-18, 2006. It looks like fun. Finally, horror film aficionados should note that…

  • fetch… the comfy chair!

    I’m leaving on Monday! My to-do list is thinning out. Today I axed a task I’ve been avoiding for too long. It was fantastic to draw a line through it, which made up somewhat for it tediousness. I’m not always this organised before a trip. Often I fling clothes into my bag the night before, or a couple of hours before I leave for the airport. Ultimately there are only three fundamental items that must be remembered: e-ticket, passport, money/credit cards… and a laptop. My four…no… . Amongst my essentials… . Amongst my important things… are such elements as passport, money…. I’ll come in again. I’m leaving on Monday! Now,…

  • look who's not coming to dinner

    The weather continues to be distractingly beautiful. It’s not easy to knuckle down and tackle all my pre-Clarion work. There are so many mundane tasks to consider too, such as the basic chore of choosing what clothes to bring. Seattle is Irish-like in its inconsistent climate, but it’s hard to remember to select a couple of pieces suitable for cooler weather when I’m wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Seven weeks is a long time to be away, but I don’t want to burden myself with too much stuff, especially when it will be cheaper to pick certain things up in the USA. I’m going to make a pile, and try…