And then we came to the end.

Today the Clarionauts head home. Spent the wee hours of the morning with Jim B. ’til 5am, then Erin til 6am, and now I’m waiting to make Becky coffee when she gets up around 8. It’s rather lovely that I fly out in the afternoon, actually. Getting to spend some leisurely quiet-time with each of my friends before they fly away has been/will be awesome.
I see why people wind up depressed or not writing post-Clarion. I can’t even begin to process everything I’ve learned here. Six new stories, and another ten or so started, and more ideas and titles and lines and observations and fodder than I could write in a year, or more. I promised Kij Johnson that despite exams, I’d revise my stories and try to keep at least three things on the market at all times. Once I’m done building my 160 course, I think I’ll turn to creating a revision plan for getting through the top 4 stories I’m interested in, and then making dream-lists of the markets I’d like to sell them to.
In case you’re curious, here are the working titles of the pieces I submitted over the past 6 weeks: 1. Permission, 2. The Forgottenist, 3. Tentacle Season, 4. How to Speak to a Selkie Skin, 5. Feral House, and 6. Peter Loves Wendy in Neverland. These are the stories that will remain on file in the UCSD library, and I am okay with that. Most of these titles will likely change. Add to these the stories I wrote pre-Clarion (1. Daughters of Necessity, 2. Imaginary Enemy, 3. Portalcraft), and my submission stories (1. In the Prison of Her Boyfriend’s Nostril, Dread Cthulhu Sleeps and 2. Memoir), and I’m staring down a shocking number of drafts to start hammering. Nostril and Feral House first, and then probably Forgottenist and Enemy. Then Permission, if I can un-gimmick a gimmick story. All of these are new since Feb. of this year. O.o
I’ve never written so much in such a short timespan, save when Rhin and I did the novel. I think…perhaps…I have gotten serious about my fiction? *runs and hides*
If that’s my personal takeaway from Clarion, I’d count it a success.
What I have not mentioned: all the life that is separate from the work. I’ve made such solid friendships here–time will tell if they persist. I’m excited to read and crit new work from these people, and I’ll have a small stable of readers who are always willing to read my genre stuffs going forward.
The sadness hits fast, though. Clarion really was a beach writing vacation–everything idyllic, so much so as to be otherworldly. My real life has never felt less real, or less important. Thankfully I return to the structure of university life, which is insta-grounding. Students, colleagues, life-as-usual.
I want this Clarion writing life, with these people, to BE my real life, though. I hope this is a re-creatable experience, in some form or another. I refuse to be nostalgic or depressed over a thing that has, for me, been life-changing in the best of ways. Instead, I cling to hope: that with some effort on my part, I can go to a damn con or two (Wiscon? World Fantasy?), and maybe even run a small one-week workshop next summer with some of these folks (if anyone knows a space we can rent on the cheap…). And then, hopefully, the strange intimacy of these six weeks will return, like it never left.
In close, a picture that says it all: These people, I really DID want to eat their brains.

All we want to do is eat your brains.

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5 thoughts on “And then we came to the end.

  1. Feral House exploded in a pile of goo, which tends to happen when I revise. Oh, POV, you are my nemesis. But it’s getting there. Hopefully within the week? That one will go out before school starts, anyway, unless I can’t figure out these last few tweaks.

    Thanks for the heckling, oh maestro. Duly noted 🙂

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