Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Clarion Week Five

Everything's a bit of a blur right now.


The lovely Hawaiian shirt given to
me by Clarion class of 2009 as part
of the Leonard Pung scholarship
Parts of my brain had turned to mush by week five, and in an effort to make the final weeks a bit easier (hahahaha), I made a decision: I was going to write two stories at once. Stupid? Inspired? Probably both.

Unfortunately, as I tend to do, I went too hard too early, and I feel I produced my best works in weeks two and three. So not only am I suffering from exhaustion, my stories are suffering too. I need distance. Probably a few weeks off from writing and fresh eyes will help me reassess what I see as my "failure" of the workshop. It's probably not a failure at all...and really, we came here to fail hard, try something different, surprise ourselves, and race into the cushioning wall of our classmate's critiques at a hundred miles an hour. Failure is okay.

Ann and Jeff Vandermeer are the tutors tasked with easing our poor, gibbering souls back into the real world, while at the same time expecting us to produce great works of art. They're with us for week five and six, and they've been giving us excellent lectures and advice on the publishing world (plus some hairy stories!). As always, what happens in Fight Club, stays in Fight Club.

Ann and Jeff have been so kind and accommodating. Some of us have joked that Ann is the "mom" of genre publishing - she's always there to listen, and has great advice for us all. She even offered me the services of a hitman when I described some of the bad writing advice (ie: you suck) I received when I was younger. It was funny yet emotionally validating at the same time to see someone so invested in my success ("I think of all the stories we missed from you in that time!" she said).

On the Wednesday, Shauna Roberts of the Clarion class of 2009 came to visit, as she has a special gift to present to me. As part of my scholarship, the class likes to give the recipient an Hawaiian shirt in honour of Leonard's memory, and I got a really beautiful shirt. Just the type I like to wear. Thanks class of 2009, you're all awesome, and your investment in my future means the absolute world to me. There may have been a few misty eyes involved, I can't quite say.

Thursday was Let's Practise Being Growed Up Writers Day. As the first day of Comic Con (AHMAHGAHDCOMICCON) in San Diego, Ann and Jeff were working panels and signings, but took the time to take us all out to lunch with some authors. We met Lev Grossman and Charles Yu, as well as Charles' publicist Josie, who "speed dated" with us all to get an idea of our experience at Clarion, and expectations of the business. Charles even let our table practise our 30-second elevator pitches, so that was a lot of fun. Thanks Charles! You were awesome.

And then...there was Saturday.

SCIENCEBROS: I met Phil Plait at Comic Con
AHHHHMAHHHHGAHHHHHD COMIC COOOOOOOOOHHHHHNNN.

I was really tired all week and found it hard to get motivated to make proper plans for Comic Con, other than "going" and "Night Vale show" (because: NIGHT VALE). I ended up spending most of my day with Nino Cipri which was SO MUCH FUN. We had such an epic day getting lost, finding each other again, meeting awesome queer comic publishers, wandering around the floor, doing random stuff. My BEST moment of Comic Con was bumping into the "Bad Astronomer" Phil Plait and getting a selfie together: SCIENCEBROS, ACTIVATE! My worst moment was finding out the Avengers cast had appeared on the con floor after I had left to sit in on the John Barrowman panel, coz I thought 'Hey, they're too cool for school, they won't appear amongst the pleebs' LITTLE DID I KNOW. [Insert prolific cursing here]. According to Martin Cahill, Chris Hemsworth has "perfect eyebrows". Really Marty? His EYEBROWS?

And let's not forget what a highlight the Welcome to Night Vale/Thrilling Adventure Hour crossover show was. It was funny, and sweet, and such a thrill to see the voice actors performing live. They have quite the presence behind a live microphone, especially Cecil Baldwin and Dylan Marron. ALL HAIL THE GLOW CLOUD. There are no dumb questions, just dumb realities.

To top it off, Nino and I had a hilari-tragic getting home story, which involved being stuffed into the San Diego Green Line trolley like sardines, catching the last bus to La Jolla which ended service halfway there, then having to negotiate a cab the rest of the way, which we shared with a UCSD acting student who had been working the Walking Dead walk-through exhibit at Comic Con. I was halfway between terrified exhaustion and hysteria at 1am.

I should stop capslocking on, because there's still a few more days to go...

I don't wanna go home.

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