Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Thank You, Leonard Pung

The last few weeks of Clarion prep have been a roller coaster of emotion, activity, and non-activity. It's gone from everything happening all at once - get those fees paid! books those flights! - to hurry up and wait.

But after a few false starts - panic about my visa, changing flights - things are starting to come together, and the whole process is turning away from the surreal. It helps that the majority of the class have found each other online (Twitter Stalkers Anonymous), and we're now settling into a cheerful group conversation about plans and self-imposed reading assignments and signal boosting the heck out of fundraisers for those still in the process of getting their fees together.

I've also gained more followers and kind words of the writer kind in the last few weeks which is certainly blush making. Thanks everyone for paying a bit of attention to little ol' me from this little ol' country at the bottom of the world. I hope I can live up to your expectations.

A big boost towards getting me to Clarion was the scholarship I was awarded, reducing my fee total by about 30%. I received the Leonard Pung Memorial Scholarship, which prompted me too look up the author on whose good name I am in part attending.

This scholarship is awarded to a student attending Clarion over the age of 40. Yes, I turn 40 next month. I might not look it, and I like to pretend I'm younger than I really am because I started this journey so late, but there it is. I'm facing down the big Four-Oh. I've achieved one thing on my "Things To Do Before I'm 40" list - achieve a pro-paying publication - but since it slips in with a couple months leeway, I think I can tick Clarion off that list too.

Leonard Pung, from what I've been able to glean, was a late starter to this Skiffy Life too. He attended Clarion in 2009, and was just starting to negotiate his way through the publishing landscape when he was diagnosed with leukemia in 2012. His death was a shock to his writing community, as it seemed he had every chance to recover after treatment.

Here are some tributes to Mr Pung, by Ken Schneyer (who was very kind to befriend me on Facebook), Nicole M Taylor, Richard Crawford, and Liz Argall.

The Clarion class of 2009 created the memorial scholarship in Mr Pung's name so that future late starters to SFF writing can realize their dreams. I'm honoured that I can carry on holding the line for the late bloomers in his name.

So, thanks class of 2009, donors, Clarion Foundation, anyone else involved in the scholarship...and Leonard. I'm going to make every effort to enjoy my time in San Diego, and make use of every morsel I glean from the workshop, whether it's good times with new friends or tearing my hair out at constructive writing criticism. I'm only as young as I feel. And I feel 100 feet tall and 21 years wide.

It's going to be wonderful and stressful and tearful and utterly grand.

Here is a video of Leonard reading from one of his stories in early 2012:

Monday, April 7, 2014

99% Blorp, 1% Squidge

The last few weeks have been...weird.

Ever since I found out I was going to San Diego my planning and writing has changed, and not always in a good way. I think I squeed so hard I popped something mentally: HOLY SHIT, says she, THIS IS FOR REALSIES. Time to go hard, or go home.

Initiate Sequence: MEEP.

So now everything I've been writing, or attempted to start, since the start of the year has looked like utter shyte. I can't finish a damn thing, and I am in no way satisfied with anything. Wurdz: how do I do them? Dude, says my bloorped out brain, you're making a step towards The Byg Tymes, you think you can hang with the cool crowd? Hahahahahah.

Yeah, thanks brain.

It hasn't helped that I haven't made a sale since August last year. That's over seven months now. I feel time ticking down, a Big Number Birthday is coming, and I'm supposed to be more All Of The Output and Famouser than this. Do editors hate seeing me on the slush pile all the time? Who have I secretly pissed off with my rampant wombat Godzilla slippers of stompiness? Am I suddenly plunging some unknown depths of suckage? Is it really just stupid dumb luck that I haven't found the right wall for my current manuscripts to stick against? Look at all those OTHER cool kids who are making sales and taking names and putting my output to utter shame.


Meanwhile, in the red corner of Pummelling the Author's Brain into Scary Super Mush, we have my Clarion prep. I must read ALL THE THINGS by my instructors. I must absorb ALL THE ADVICE from previous attendees. I must devise ALL THE QUESTIONS any intelligent looking student should ask. I must remember HOW TO BE EDUMACATING even though I haven't stepped in a classroom in over 15 years. I must pretend I'm GOOD AT TEH CRITIQUING. I must remember HOW TO ADULT IN ADULT COMPANY and not fall on my squirrel-chattering face (erm, too late). I have to book flights, and holiday thingees, and sort visa stuff, and oh my god you're mentally packing already and how many pairs of underwear do I really need for almost 2 months away from home, and my cat is going to HATE ME when I get home.

I'm a growed up. I can do these things.


Shut up, brain.

But as much as it's scaring the ever loving crud out of me...

Here is the mountain. I'm jumping off anyway.

Screaming all the way down, half terrified, half ecstatic. And hoping at least for some sort of soft landing.

Hang in there brain, we can do this.