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This is great. I’m almost thinking about going back and deleting the single, solitary F— word that appears in my journal in order to get down to PG. In other news, blah, blah, blah, Clarion….one year later…etc…
Unlike most Clarionites, my dorm room was actually much larger and more comfortable than any place I have lived other than my parent’s home. Really the one downside came from the stale smoke smell that I added (I really learned my lesson about smoking where I slept). And the food in the Owen Hall Cafeteria was certainly far better than the near-starvation I have experienced in the last year while under the grip of a bunch of earth-tones, sandal-wearing, vegetarians. What kind of people don’t buy sliced bread? Crazy people, that’s who.
So I don’t really have those lovely moments to color my recollections of Clarion. Other than how abysmally hot it was. I certainly hope this year’s Clarion is doing better in San Diego.
Let’s see in terms of Clarion reflections. Well, I went there with a less than stellar grasp of a whole variety of writing techniques. Things like characterization, dialogue, plotting, and using words to make pictures of things in other people’s heads. So, yeah, I’ve seen a massive improvement in my writing since Clarion. My post-Clarion writing life has not been that industrious. I’ve written one story, and substantially rewritten two of my Clarion stories. Not only have I been busy, but writing just requires alot more effort and thought than it used to. But a new story is taking shape.
Just recently I went through every story I was actively submitting and gave them a thumb’s up or thumbs down. The ones that got a thumb’s down went into the trunk, and I’ve been giving a new coat of paint to the ones that remain. This has actually been pretty fun. Almost all of my changes have been on the sentence level, and they take two forms. One is cutting out alot of the garbage. My old stories have repetition, poor word choice, and all kinds of other wonky crap that is immediately apparent to me now. The rest of what I’ve been doing is tightening up descriptions and rewriting dialogue. In general, even with the additions, I’ve been able to cut about 10%-20% of all of my pre-Clarion stories.
I’m still quite proud of alot of these stories, but reading them again has made me realize that alot of editors must have read them, seem the amateurish prose and rejected them right there. Hopefully the new coat of paint will sucker them in and I can manage to get a few sales.
I’ve also spent the year reading science fiction and fantasy with a far more critical eye. I’m getting better at seeing how authors do the things that make their stories good, and how I can do those things as well. My reading habits both within genre and outside it, which were never very restricted, have gotten alot broader and it’s been a pretty fun year in that regard.
So yeah, Clarion = Good Times…but there’s alot of learning left to do. Yadda, yadda, adieu.