I realize that this week I haven’t really taken the time to step back and give people the big picture. On the one hand, I would definitely love to have some sort of Henry James / Edgar Allen Poe type mystery in my life to trouble future graduate students. On the other hand, I definitely want to let future Clarion students know what this week has been like.
So let me start by saying that in my life I only went to one four week summer camp. At that camp, everything was great. I loved it. But things completely went to hell in the fourth week. Friendships disintregated. Cliques broke up and reformed with different members. People hooked up, it was crazy shit. The point here is, four weeks is a hell of a long time to devote to one activity.
This week has been a huge struggle for me. I am burnt out on critiquing. I am burnt out on writing. I brainstormed for nearly a week straight, finding and then throwing out dozens of ideas without finding one to write. When I finally started to write, the story came out pretty crappy.
In general everyone is feeling stressed, tired, and burnt out. As a college student, I am used to these feelings (it’s pretty much finals week). But for those people who are ten or even fifteen years out of college, it is even worse.
However, I’d like to go out of my way here to state that everyone here is great. I still think that they are great. It’s true, there’s gossip flying around. Critiques maybe have gotten a bit harsher. But I actually think that is a good thing. People are not letting the same sort of crap just fly through like they were in week four. But it is hard and it is stressful, make no mistake.
But you know what? We’re basically in a reality TV situation. We have nothing to talk about aside from our own peccadilloes. If one of my friends at school had done any of the things we’ve done here, it wouldn’t be worth even a moment of comment. We’re all just being silly clucking hens, and I am as guilty of this as everyone else (and perhaps more so). So for all of you who read this, let me proffer my apologies.
The Haldemans have been a godsend in this crazy time. For one thing, they are probably the cutest couple I have ever seen. They have an amazing relationship, even after forty years. For another, they’re just really nice, diplomatic people who know their shit cold. They know what makes a good story. They know what makes a bad one. And they convey it in the nicest possible way.
You might have noticed that I have been saying “They”. That is because Joe and Gay both sit in the critique circle. They both give their opinions on the stories. And both of their opinions are incredibly valuable, since they have very different tastes. God, I love both of them to death.
Anyway, back to my terrible shitty awful no-good story (which I am liking more and more with each passing moment).
EDIT: On a personal note, I’ve recently been waking up with horrible coughing fits. I know there is some sort of sickness going around Clarion, and I hope that is what it is, but it’s probably the cigarettes (at least it’s exacerbated by the cigarettes). Before I came to Clarion, I only smoked 5-8 cigs a day. Now I do around a pack a day, simply because it’s so easy and there is nothing else to do. So I’ve been thinking about quitting. But right now I’m smoking in my room and when I do it I feel so damned Hemingwayesque that I can’t imagine ever stopping. Fuck me.