Monday, June 30, 2014

Clarion Week One

Everything hurts. Mostly my feet and my brains. But it's a good hurt.

Nothing can really prepare you for Clarion. You can read All Of The Blogposts, talk to All Of The People, but in the end it's a massive push off the high tower into the deep end.

And we're making a splash, surfacing, dog paddling in gasping circles...

Weirdos Of the Future, 2014
On Sunday June 22, I was picked up in Los Angeles by class mate Ryan Campbell, with shotgun rider Haralambi Markov. Much squeeing ensued. Here were these people I'd only had in text and photos for months, flesh realized! Much enthusing ensued as we trundled down the highway to San Diego. Freaking Caly-forn-ay-yay. I was feeling a little overwhelmed.

That feeling was about to intensify. By 7.30pm, I was fed, watered, had made my bed, exploded my bag all over my room, and was facing off with seventeen people I was getting to know all over again, and tutor Gregory Frost. Many great things were said, and even only 7 days later they're a little bit hazy. But the gist of it was: water wings off, kiddies, you're in the grown up pool now.

There's a lot of walking to do. UCSD campus is big, and our apartments, cafeteria, and class room are very spread out. But La Jolla is beautiful, has it's own micro climate, and the Pacific Ocean is right at our back door.

Monday and Tuesday work wise, in hindsight, were a breeze. Lectures in the morning, writing in the afternoon, Party All The Time in the pee-em. Monday was inaugural Beers On The Roof (a past time now curtailed by a perturbed security guard). Tuesday was Karaoke at the campus dive pub (holy sheet, I haven't sung Meat Loaf in years, plus there's nothing quite like Greg Frost singing "Walk The Line" in the style of Porky Pig). I was thinking: if this is life for the next 6 weeks, this is pretty damn fine.

Ha, I say to you. HA! Cool Uncle Greg had us fooled. FOOLED I TELL YOU.

Wednesday was when the first stories rolled in, and the critiquing began. Suddenly it was lectures, writing, AND reading and marking up 3-4 stories a day. Still, there was much fun to be had at the Mysterious Galaxy reading by Greg on the Wednesday (wonderful bookshop, fantastic staff who treated us like royalty), and critiquing was still a novelty come Thursday. Friday we celebrated an epic session of critiquing with a walk to the nearby cliffs, and gentrified imbibing of a few beverages (until 12.30am, because, yanno, gotta celebrate that tutor that's just held our hands through our first week and made us feel like we've all already won the Hugo).

Saturday? The BEST MEXICAN EVER in Old Town San Diego, with touristy bits, superb shopping, and ice cream.

Geoffrey Ryman arrived, Greg made us sound like godlings (Best Class Ever might have been bandied about), and the game shifted. New style, new work. Much thinking. OW.

Nino Cipri and myself looking SPLENDID 
at the Geisel Library Steampunk Tea
Sunday? An emotional send off for Greg, with group hugs (I didn't cry. Read: I TOTALLY DID). Getting to know Geoff. A cool Steampunk themed event at the library where I got my first ever straw moustache. And now, holy cow I'm tired. But I've got through my workload, though my word count has suffered from brain mush.

This is all very time-liney, you say. What about Great Things That Have Been Said? The Amazing Things All Learning Up In Your Brain? Well, I'm sorry, I'm reliably informed I'd have to kill you if I told you. That's between me and 18 other people. But I can tell you this: I have never felt like a REAL writer, someone with talent people really believe in, until this moment. We do nothing but eat, sleep, rave, repeat craft. People laugh at my jokes. They take what I think on crafty things seriously. People smile, and laugh, and tell me great things are due. And we laugh some more.


Pickle Brain, OUT.

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