rcloenen_ruiz (rcloenen_ruiz) wrote,

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Clarion West Irregular Report

I thought I'd write this down today as I'm trying to parse through everything that we've been learning in these two days. I feel like I've already learned a lot and have written a lot more than I normally write, and I really, really need to think things through so I can get them into my fiction. A part of me is still getting used to this idea that I now own my time and can write as much as I want, when I want to.

I think it's important for husbands to realize that writing moms really need their writing time. I'm really thankful to my husband for giving me this gift of time to just focus and write.


Yesterday, we talked about plot and how that works and it was very interesting to hear as I will now confess in open that I have always had this vague idea of what plot is like, but for most of my life, I've been a seat of the pants writer. John Kessel is a really good teacher. He is able to bring his point across in a way that's easy to understand and which makes me feel like going back and looking through all my stories with certain questions in mind.

The pieces read yesterday were rather heavy on zombies and vampires which was a real pity because after a while everything just sort of blended into one another. The stories by themselves were quite good, but after a while, I couldn't remember whose stories had been about what.

After that, John Kessel banned zombies and vampires. And I didn't even get the chance to write my zombie cockroach story. That chance has now passed, but someday that story will get written.

I also had my meeting with John Kessel yesterday. I realized that the disadvantage of meeting your instructor on the first day of a workshop like this lies in not really knowing what to ask. I've never been to a creative writing class, and while I've been to the Villa Diodati workshop, I've never been in a workshop like this with formal sitdown lectures and exercises. I guess, it was pretty odd for John Kessel to have a student who doesn't really know what questions to ask.

So, we sat and talked a bit about common friends like Ben Rosenbaum. Jeff Spock was one of his students and apparently made quite an impression as he said: I'm glad you know people like Ben Rosenbaum and Jeff Spock who was one of my students (did I hear a heavy emphasis on the Jeff Spock right there?) Were you writing about naked mermaids back in the day? (just kidding) Why do I never think of brilliant comments like that when I am in session with someone? I just get all nervous and get these intense heart palpitations.

I asked him to sign my copy of The Baum Plan for Independence, and he wrote something really lovely in it and that book will go into the treasured part of my library. The part that will never, ever be donated or given away.


Today's exercise was to write a story about character in a reality that has three things different and three things the same as today. It was an interesting exercise and for this, I decided to mine the background of my wip and use that for the story. It turned out to be quite an interesting exercise for me. I realize that when I am writing seriously, my interest in culture and heritage do reveal themselves. While the story excerpt is set in a far future world, it is still very much Ifugao. I am thinking of expanding this into a longer story than the one that I now have. It will be interesting to discover where the story goes and how my character responds to the situation presented. Also, I do want to discover more about this world. The interesting thing is, I've been writing about Balaycon's colonies and have had little chance to really explore them. So, I do want to use this Clarion West time to do some of that.

It's brought home to me that a lot of my classmates are very well-oriented in terms of science fiction. In a way, I do feel at a loss as a lot of books and shows that have been seen or read by them are books and films that I haven't seen or read. There are entire blocks of science fictional reading that I've missed through my growing up years. I guess I really have a lot of catching up to do.


Tonight, John will be reading at the Washington University Bookshop. I think that will be a great opportunity to stack up on books I've missed. Before I go home, a trip to the post office will definitely be in order.

I'm off to work on tomorrow's assignment and I still have a story to finish before Thursday.
Tags: clarion west

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