The hard part.

Day two, and it is abundantly manifest that the hard part is not critiquing, or sleeping, or eating healthy. The hard part? Is actually writing.

I got up at 6:50am and ran around campus, which involved me getting horribly lost, digging out the map, finding myself again, then running til I was horribly lost again, rinse/repeat. We spent the morning workshopping, with a brief short-story 101 lecture on the side. The Clarion workshop style is painful for extrovert me, and it’s also a lesson in self: STFU. I have always been superverbal and tend to dominate workshop settings not a-purpose. The Clarion round-robin curtails that, and I’m finding it…dare I say, freeing? It saves me from myself, from my own terrible verbosity/accidental assholery. We each get 3 minutes. Beyond that, we must pay $$ for each additional minute. Nothing I have to say past 3 min. is worth a nickel. It’s awesome.

Then, post-lunch we were freed to…write. AAAAaaaaah! So write I have done. I rather wish I was every kind of writer other than the kind I am, but that can’t be helped. Gimmicks, they are gimmicky. This draft, it’s been fits and starts, but I just now hit my stride. Clarion-buddies, drafts will likely be incoming shortly, though I want to find out my day/timeslot first, because I’ll revise til the 11th hour.
Now I go to dinner. The food? Has been excellent. It may get repetitive by week 5, but at moment, I’ve been impressed. Well-stocked salad bar with several delish dressings. Tofu and vegetable stirfry. A salty bean stew. Tons of fresh fruit. Morning granola, even! The only things been meh are the desserts (plastic frosting), but I shouldn’t be eating those anyway.
Please think happy thoughts for me and clap your hands if you believe in fairies/that rockin’ first drafts are possible. This rough draft, I fear it.

We are not supposed to write about other students, so this is all I will say, probably 4ever: I LOVE THEM ALL LIKE CHOCOLATE AND GUMMY BEARS. But not all at once, because gross.


One thought on “The hard part.

  1. I am clapping my hands at you with much vigor. I saw the group pic of you all on the FB, and it made me happy, and a little bit nostalgic. We took one of those as well, back in the day.

    The food, in my experience, was not so awful as some make it out to be. Of course, we also cooked meals together once a week or so, to break up the cafeteria monotony. Of course, that was facilitated by some of us living relatively close by and having brought cooking implements/spices/whatnot with us. If you can swing something like that, though, it could be a happy thing. Not sure what to say about the desserts at the caf, as I don’t recall sampling many of them. When I was there, though, there was a cooler that had an ample selection of frozen fruit bars on sticks, with real fruit in them, and I recall that those were perhaps inordinately pleasing to me (especially the lime ones, and the strawberry). Anyway.

    Don’t fear the first draft, though. You and I are perhaps inclined to be similar in wanting to know what the fuck we’re doing before we begin doing it, and finding it difficult to not have that option. As you may recall, that tripped me up the first couple of weeks, too, but in the end it was something else that was freeing for me. The Clarion way, I think, does a lot to clarify what workshops at their best are good for: helping you take something that is imperfect and including others in how to take it from that initial stage of development (which we of course would prefer to hide, and possibly to smother with a pillow silently in the night) and get it to a place that is less imperfect. Your rough drafts will be rough, to be sure. But so will everyone else’s, and the point of this is not to win a popularity contest, but to get better, and the best way to facilitate that is by presenting something that is flawed and problematic and that you have encountered narrative difficulty with to a room full of smart, engaged people, and hear what they have to say about how they, with their own strengths and insights regarding how we do what we do, would approach resolving those problems. I learned more about the problem-solving aspect of storytelling from my six weeks at Clarion than I have in years of graduate fiction workshops, I think. Which is not to talk trash about graduate fiction workshops…it’s just a different way of working, and a different model than we tend to see in our usual precincts for how to most usefully get writing done as members of a community of writers.

    I’m glad you’re doing this, Brooke, and I’m glad you’re blogging it. Keep on keeping on, and call if you need anything. Yay Clarion.


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