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13 July 2009 @ 09:23 am
Les Semaines July 12: Second & Third Weeks of Clarion West 2009  
I feel privileged to once again be a witness to this alchemical process. Both Karen Joy Fowler and Elizabeth Bear were new Clarion West instructors to me (Karen Joy Fowler has taught for us, but not for a long time, and Elizabeth Bear is new to CW) but they built on John Kessel's beginnings, delving into the arcana of writing. Both had wonderful things to say about plot, about character, about the varieties of POV and their effects...meanwhile the students were critiquing a minimum of three stories a night (mostly four), critiquing in class, perhaps doing an exercise or two and writing their stories, which have been really impressive first drafts.

I'm so impressed with both Karen and Bear as instructors for the workshop—so great at outlining basics, yet also at issues of art and inspiration, practical about the practical issues and yet able to point to the things about writing that you can't really quite talk about. Karen's passion and Bear's energy—or is it Karen's energy and Bear's passion—inspired me. I also liked both of them so much as people.

I know I sound like a cheerleader when I talk about this process, but this is the ninth time I have experienced it as an observer (and once previously as a participant) and I remain fascinated by how it works and how while each group of students and instructors is different, the process has similarities.

Sure there are rough spots, critiques that shred the author's skin, moments of painful exhaustion, interpersonal rough spots, but the crucible that is this kind of workshop still burns off an amazing amount of dross and an astonishing amount of gold.

In the meantime, Jim turned 50(!), Devin continued to recover from her ACL surgery, and our other niece, Meredith, from the brain tumour surgery (still no final word about the biopsy, which is nagging at me). We've had spells of hot weather for Seattle, and now some cold/rainy/windy. We've been picking blackcurrants and raspberries. Cherry season has been tasty.

I continue to struggle to catch up with the write-a-thon, various household and personal tasks and to catch up on that constant barrage called email. I'd really better do something quickly, as the inbox approaches 1,000 messages retained in expectation of me doing something with them. I've tossed all the rest. How does this happen?


For my listening, reading, and writing updates, as well as a day touring Scotland in July 1997, see Les Semaines.

silme on July 13th, 2009 04:37 pm (UTC)
Bear is lovely. A little over three years ago, she needed a cheap place to stay in England whilst researching for two novels. We were heading to the US on a holiday, with a few crossover days between the three of us, so we offered her our house and my car as long as she fed the cats. When we returned, I drove her to the Bournemouth airport so that she could catch a cheap flight to Edinburgh and Eastercon. The cats adored her, btw. :)
meredithsmoemeth on July 13th, 2009 05:00 pm (UTC)
Y'know, I just noticed your name in the acknowledgements of Hell And Earth and about fell off my chair ... :) The world, she is small.
silme on July 13th, 2009 05:08 pm (UTC)
Very small indeed. :) That was one of the books that she needed to come to England for research. She used our house as a base, drove my car a bit, took trains to places etc. She got around to a good chunk of the south: London, Cambridge, Glastonbury, Stratford, other places I'm forgetting. I introduced her to cheap Ryanair flights (horrible airline, but for the price they're bearable for a flight to Glasgow) for Eastercon in Glasgow.

And the kitties really did adore her.
Sherwood Smithsartorias on July 13th, 2009 04:43 pm (UTC)
I hope the niece will be okay. Good on the rest!
silme on July 13th, 2009 05:09 pm (UTC)
Oh, and I hope the biopsy news is good.