Monday, July 14, 2014

Clarion Week Three

Cat Valente and me, just hanging out,
like cool people do...
Can someone pass me an adjective or three to describe the week I've just had? I've run out.

Week Three with Catherynne Valente. Wow. I am exhausted and thrilled and inspired and emotionally drained (there, I found a few adjectives). On the Scale of Incredible Experiences, it's rating right up there.

I had the best day of my Clarion experience so far, and I also had my worst day. Yup, all in the same week with Cat.

Cat was...well, one can never reveal the personalized wisdom that comes from being in the orbit of a White Witch (a phrase I learned from another of my heroes). Cat gave me things that will stay in my heart forever, and will keep me going in the harder days of my writing journey. Those days will never be darker, because after this week I can see that The Way only goes up from here.

There was a different dynamic to the week again, and one conversation about craft, or the politics of the personal and publishing flowed into one another. We did Karaoke. She told us ghost stories. She taught us how to put on a professional face in panels. She told us to be the best of our selves that we can be. She sat with us into the small hours, held our hands, treated our hearts in that gently rough way only the honest can, and was an absolute freaking delight. I could listen to her talk for hours (and I did).

My best day was when she delved into a deep critique of one of my stories. I've never felt so on the right path in my life than on that day.

The very next day I cried in class. It was a mixture of emotional and physical exhaustion, and tough subject matter. I'm not ashamed. It happens with every class we've been told, everyone hits the wall, and I was just the first to do so in view of 17 other people and a tutor I hugely respect. Yay me *pathetic fist twirl*.

I had good people bundle me up and give me hugs and cups of tea and really good conversations about the subject once we sorted ourselves out. A few of us chilled later that day having a laugh over an Avengers rewatch (so much fun). It's to be expected - Clarion is a trial by fire, and we're hugely invested in doing right by our work and each other. We're building the core of a peer group that will sustain us for the rest of our careers. I would trust any of these people, even 3 weeks in, to beta read honestly for me once I go home.

Cat presents the plotstrich to us,
Lion King Style
Career. It's a word I've been able to say honestly and out loud to myself this past week. A writing career. I will have, I have, a writing career. It's a weird and empowering feeling.

Saturday was one of those crazy days I could only dream of having (and I've yet to have more, with 3 weeks to go!). In the morning, Cat cooked us brunch of a scrambled ostrich egg she had been gifted - it was called the "plotstrich", a wonderful metaphor I'm sure I'll figure out once my brain comes down to earth. Then she signed one of my favourite books of all time with a personalized epigraph. Then a group of us went walking around downtown San Diego through the Gaslamp District and Seaport Village - it was a beautiful day around beautiful buildings, and I invested in some very dapper hats and a bow tie. Then we all went to the cinema to see the most talked about movie "Snowpiercer". THEN we came back to meet up with Nora Jemisin who had just arrived, performed a reading ritual beneath the supermoon, and talked MORE into the wee smalls with Cat because she was leaving early the next day.

*deep breath*

Oh yes, and the week with Nora begins now.

Bye Cat, and thanks. It was out of this world and into the many others we love to inhabit.

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