I have to remember this, because it was most excellent. My crit session with Bear et al this morning was pure absurdism. Several people had never heard of Lovecraft/read very little of his work, and they found the whole piece nonsensical. Then there were two devout Lovecraftians who called me out (and rightfully) for my misappropriation and inversion of Cosmicism (the piece is anti-Cosmicist…humans are more inscrutably evil than Old Ones), which was awesome. I made some egregious source-reference errors (misspelled the name of the sunken city, ferfucksakes), which was embarrassing–picked a bad site for fact checking, apparently, and of course I did not have my annotated Lovecraft with me, which didn’t help. People said such funny things, though, in an effort to discuss the piece. “Woobie Cthulhu” may have been my favorite. Also, “Taste-flesh: It’s ftaghn delicious!” But yeah. Overall, the most fun critique yet, for all the story failed.
So I want to make a Tarot deck of writerly skills. Major Arcana: characters, plot, lyrical prose, the controlling image, density of prose, etc. Minor arcana: believably evil villains, sentence variation, tenses, POVs, basic copyediting skillz. Bear argued today that most writers get a few freebie cards (the starter pack that gets you hooked on the game): for her, character and structure. All the rest of the deck need to be picked up via practice, close reading, osmosis, ritual sacrifice. I feel like I come to writing without a deck. I can’t think of a writing skill that I didn’t come by via nose-to-grindstone shitty first draft style slogging. However, this does not bother me. I’d like to think all these skills can be learned. Learning to write as a life’s work.
I am in a bubbly, happy place. Not because my story was good, or because people said nice things (it wasn’t; they did). But because I wrote something with joy, and critted it with joy, and that’s been an all-too-rare experience of late. Thanks, Clarion!