Thursday, July 24, 2014

Clarion Week Four

This week is brought to you by the letter E (for exhaustion), the number oh my god I don't know how many stories I've critiqued now, and ends with gumbo and water fight instigated by Nora Jemisin.

Nora Jemisin and I hanging out
I'm late with this update, I know, but the weekend of week four I crashed big time. I was really feeling that bone deep tiredness . I'd gone hard core on my story for the week and I was running out of juice. I decided by the Thursday to take it a bit easier and planned and started on a flash piece for week 5 and my longer final submission for the workshop. Yes, it sounds like an oxymoron that I would take it easier working on TWO stories at the same time, but I have a lot more time to get things sorted, where a lot more = a couple more days (eons, in Clarion Time). That's one of the funny things about Clarion - time goes all wonky. You can write a first draft in just a few days (or hours, as some students can attest to), and I'm so tired (in a good way) and fully immersed the first couple of weeks are a little blurry. I don't want to forget any of this. Come on brain, make those rainbow connections!

Working with Nora Jemisin was A-MAZE-ING. When she arrived, it was immediately bribery with desserts - she'd brought with her on the flight real New York cannoli! Oh my, to die for. She was also very game for Karaoke at our somewhat regular Tuesday session at the campus pub.

Nora and I had a lot to talk about because some of our interests align - she's smart, savvy, politically astute, and a straight talker. She gave a lot of really interesting talks on the nuts and bolts of the publishing industry, as well as writing the other, and we had a great discussion about Wiscon. It's very strange (and gratifying) for one of your writing heroes to say "I expect to be competing with you on the awards ballots in a few years time!"

One of my enduring memories of the week will be Nora finishing up her final talk, and releasing us to the wilds of the donning sunglasses Ah-nold style and proclaiming we had sixty seconds to grab our (water pistol) weapon, and find a hiding spot. The Great Waterblaster Fight of Clarion 2014 was on! It was a great way to let off steam after a particularly difficult week of intense  discussions and people reaching their energy limits. I came to understand the Week Four Syndrome is totally a thing, and should not be ignored. Nora was the perfect tutor for the week as she gently guided us through some rough patches as well as talking honestly about the politics of the publishing industry.

Haralambi Markov and I drinking mimosas at
11am on Pride day in Hillcrest, looking spunky
Saturday was PRIDE DAY! A group of us headed down to Hillcrest for the San Diego Pride parade. It was awesome to see the suburb zhooshed up for the celebrations, and so many smiling faces. I would have liked to stay for the entire weekend of events, coz the bars were pumping even at 11am, but there was a lot of work waiting for us back at campus, and I'd only put enough energy in reserve for a few hours of partying. Still, I got to don my new bow tie, and looked especially dapper for the day.

Saturday night Nora cooked us all a fantastic pot of gumbo, and just as we were serving dinner the Vandermeers arrived. Ann and Jeff are our tutors for weeks five and six, and they were all greeted by a rowdy bunch stuffing their faces with chicken and Andouille sausage! Welcome to the madhouse!

Sunday morning rolled around far too quickly, and we were repeating that emotional farewell for another tutor. How did we get here? This is not my beautiful life...

Thanks Nora - your inspiration will sit close to my ears and heart for a very long time.

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