Half way through the second week.
Maureen McHugh is the instructor this week and it’s been an interesting time. As a person, she’s laid back and friendly, very approachable, but as an instructor she intense and analytical. It’s obvious that she cares (and thinks) a lot about what goes into a story.
One of the things she said this morning, while critiquing a story by one of the other writers, is that when she reads a story, she wants to feel that the author is totally in control of what is going on, that every element of the narrative is there for a purpose, that the author intended it to exist.
Her own writing reflects this intensity. It’s exhilarating to think about but it’s also sort of scary. I know I still stumble through a good part of my own stories. Even so, my first submission, Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One, got generally good critiques. It starts out as a police procedural and along the way turns into a first contact story. Everyone, including Maureen, seemed to understand and accept the underlying humor, and she opined that I’d succeeded in making the two aliens genuinely alien, even though the nature and presentation of their conversation is essentially human.
The group is coming together nicely. Critiques have been insightful and honest, without being tactless and insulting. Everyone is submitting excellent first drafts. Several of the stories we’ve seen so far are close to being ready for submission to publications.
Apart from writing and critiquing, we’re having a good time together, which is a significant part of the process. It’s been suggested to us several times by different people that friendships and professional relationships that we develop here will stay with us throughout our careers.
I can see the bonds forming. We just had our second Wednesday night hour-long “tea party” and tomorrow night, after story submission deadline, most or all of us are going for cocktails with Maureen. Three of the women got Clarion West tattoos today. They look so great that others of us — myself including — are planning to head to the tattoo shop tomorrow. If I don’t chicken out, I’ll post a picture of mine on Sunday.