0630 Wednesday morning and I just crawled out of bed. It’s the beginning of our third day at the Clarion West workshop and all is well so far.
This thing is everything that people say it is — exciting, intimidating and so much fun. Michael Bishop is the kick-off instructor and he’s been fantastic. He uses a Socratic style of teaching, asking directed questions, expecting lots of participation and the class has been responding well. He started with a three-hour session Sunday night, sending us off at the end with an assignment — write a story — under 1,000 words — that involves a quest and focuses on one character.
It was due in twelve hours. That was a scramble, for everyone, I think. Particularly for me. I’d put in a full day on Saturday on zero sleep — ferrying folks to the Clarion West house — and then I slept a couple hours before going to work at midnight to finish out my week. I got back to CW house, got my things moved in just before the Sunday afternoon session started.
I finished first draft of a story — a upbeat love story — and was in bed by midnight. “Piece of cake,” I figured. Then my muse smacked me awake at 0300 with another idea — a contemporary fantasy that wound up as Into the Fading Light. I finished it in four hours, just in time to send it off for printing, and stumbled through the rest of the day on three hours sleep.
There was another assignment Monday — for Tuesday’s consideration — a science fiction love story that involves only the emotions of love, not the physicality. Four pages or less, thank you very much. That became Galatea, for me. Another assignment for today then, two of them, actually — do either one or both. 800 words of sensory description that brings a setting to life and a speculative fiction story, under 800 words, developed using Jim Simmerman’s Twenty Little Poetry Projects template.
Twenty Little Projects gave me Time Travel, Considered as Stream of Consciousness. One of the things I’d hoped to bring away from CW was the ability to write less conventional stories. That’s what this one is, I think — a bit screwball comedy, in fact — and I’m pleased with the result. We’ll see how it’s received today.
I’ve also been working on my week-two story submission — a bit of contemporary fantasy/horror piece with a working title of Kindred Souls. That’s got to be submitted by 2100 Thursday night and I’m done with first draft. It runs just under 5,000 words (I’d like to cut 10 or 15 percent of that away as I rewrite) and it’s a cautionary tale about aging. I like the main character, a self-described one-time tomboy named Dorothea. We’ll see.
In summary, the first three days have been packed full of work and new ideas. I like the other folks (several are close to my age, one of my concerns), Michael Bishop is a treat (he critiqued our submission stories for us, way over and above. Thank you so much, Mike. You’re the best.) and the work and company is stimulating. Oh, and I’m catching up a bit on sleep. Got six hours last night. More on Sunday morning.