albionidaho: (Default)
I recently attended two fantastic cons: World Fantasy Convetion and BizarroCon.

I love going to a good con. They're a perfect chance to see dear friends, make new ones and explore industry contacts. They're perfect for having tons and fun and providing access to new books.

They're also a great chance to practice your social skills.

When I was at Clarion West, Cory Doctorow (my third week instructor) told the class it was important to be nice to people. Connie Willis (my fourth week instructor) put it another way -- don't be an asshole.

Read more... )
albionidaho: (Default)
I've been writing for the past years. Between jobs and school and parenting responsibilities, I've frequently only written 250 to 300 words a day, and have done little revising. There just wasn't time. But it was important to me to keep writing, consistently.

In the past months, since just before my dad died, I've had the time to write more. In that time, I've started writing, revising and submitting. I've started to stack up acceptances. It's an incredible feeling.

It feels like I'm starting over.

And it feels wonderful.


When I was at Clarion West, I asked my instructors what I should go home and work on. They all told me to go home and write. Just write and write. I was hoping to get some insight, like, "Your plotting needs work. Go home and work on plotting." Or maybe, "Your characterization needs work. Go focus on that."

I expected this partially because this was some of the directions my classmates were getting and I knew (and know) I have all kinds of things to work on. But that's not what I got, and yet it was the best advice for me. There's no better advice to any writer than to write and write and read and read and write some more.


I've been discussing my Clarion West experience a lot with classmate [ profile] chris_reynaga. One thing we've discussed is our own inability to see our strengths and weaknesses until someone else, someone we trust, holds up a mirror and tells us.

And it's true. I have no idea what my strengths are until someone tells me. Chris tells me my strength is my ability to capture emotion. I never would have guessed this -- it's innate to me. One of his strengths is description -- of place, of action, of character. Again, this isn't something he sees in himself, but it is something he worked on when he was younger because he felt it was a weakness.

Which raises another point. Chris is a prime example of how we can take a weakness and turn it into a strength. This gives me so much hope.


So I write. And I write. And I write. And now I'm revising and preparing to submit at the rate I was before life fell apart a few years ago. And I take the faith my friends have expressed and hold it close.


John Lennon's "(Just Like) Starting Over" just started to play on my music player. Synchronicity. I titled this entry before I typed the first word.

WFC 2011

Nov. 1st, 2011 02:22 pm
albionidaho: (Default)
The 2011 World Fantasy Convention was fantastic! It was also utterly exhausting.

I spent my time split between the convention and my Clarion West class reunion (on the beach!). I was constantly surrounded by some of the people I love most in the world, I got to meet longtime online friends and meet wonderful new people.

Though I had a wonderful time, I'm so glad to be home with my dog and teapot and bed and my portion of the Pacific.

This is important. This means I have made my home that I've desired for so long. I will perpetually be lining up ducks and making jellyfish swim because that's what people do, but it also means I can breathe for a little while and treasure the joy I've found.

Perhaps there will be a con/reunion recap. Perhaps not. But know the SFF community is the best in the world, and you are all my family.
albionidaho: (Default)
Avadore has signed up for the Clarion West Write-a-thon. His page is here. Please take a look :).

I'm certainly not as cute as Avadore, but my Write-a-thon page is here.
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It's that time of year again. Clarion West and Clarion San Diego are in full swing and dozens of laptops and computers are aflame as writers donate their writing to raise money for Clarion West.

It's not hyperbole when I tell you Clarion West changed my entire life for the better. Most importantly, it made me a much better writer.

Clarion West is a non-profit organization, surviving (for twenty-seven consecutive years now) primarily from donations and fund-raising efforts--tuition pays for a very small portion of the costs associated with such a venture. I hope you'll find the time to check out the Write-a-thon page, linger over the participants at the bottom of the page, and even find someone you'd like to sponsor. No amount is too little. Don't feel embarrassed about giving up your latte for one day and donating the cost of your caffeinated yumminess; the $4 donated to Clarion West will go further--guaranteed. For one thing, Amazon is offering Clarion West a matching grant up to 25k this year, but only on funds collected into October. For another, you'll be able to brag to friends, neighbors, family, and the Klingon-speaking hottie hanging in the dealer's room at your favorite con that you helped support the wonderful, talented alumni we'll be seeing in print in the future. It's a multi-faceted investment :D.

And yes, I am participating in the Write-a-thon this year. I'm writing two new short stories and rewriting one story and sending it out into the cold, cruel world. I'm currently in the middle of one short story and rewrites. I'll let you know how it goes.
albionidaho: (Default)
Via Clarion West classmate, and all around awesome person, [ profile] finitemonkey: I give you The Renamer-ator!

No longer do you need to use the phone book, baby name books, your friends or (heaven forbid) your imagination! Simply use The Renamer-ator for all your character building needs!
albionidaho: (Default)
Clarion West 2009 started this week. I'll have thoughts on that another time. Believe me, I certainly have them.

However, that's not the reason I come before you today. Today I come before you to spread word of the Clarion West Write-A-Thon, where some amazingly talented writers of all skill levels write our mad hearts out during the six weeks Clarion West is in session with the intention of raising funds for our beloved workshop.

Clarion West is a non-profit organization. Though Clarion West does charge tuition to attend, these monies only cover a certain percentage of what it takes to fund the workshop each year. Additionally, Clarion West offers scholarship funds to promising writers who would not be able to afford the workshop otherwise. The money to make up the uncovered balance of the yearly workshop and the scholarship funds have to come from somewhere. Clarion West has received grants, but a substantial portion of their funds come from donors and the Write-A-Thon.

I strongly encourage you to click the link above and check out the list of writers who are taking donations for the Write-A-Thon this year. It's for a good cause, and it's a fine investment in your reading future.

I also want to note that all involved are aware of the current economic situation affecting so many of us. Please know that small amounts add up and are greatly appreciated.

As for me, I'll be spending the six weeks writing the first draft of Paradise, the short novel I outlined with Chuck Palahniuk during Week 6 of Clarion West 2008 (the best Clarion West year ever--just saying ;)). I'm already twelve pages in. I'll write at least another three today when I'm not writing freelance articles.

3,000 / 50,000


Dec. 15th, 2008 09:21 am
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I woke this morning to an e-mail from CW classmate Douglas A. Lucas. We e-mailed back and forth a few times, talking about writing and submissions, and now we're IMing briefly before we write.

These virtual writing dates have become one of my favorite things. I love looking at the little glowing dot, knowing that someone I love is writing, too, and they love what they're doing.

Fox is beside me, making a fort with blankets and couch cushions. I'm going to write lots and lots of words. I'll check in with Douglas every so often.

But before I start writing I'm going to read the latest incarnation of "Glenn of Green Gables", which was one of Douglas' CW stories. Glenn was one of my favorite characters to come out of the workshop, and I expect to be heartily entertained by this final version.

it's hard

Dec. 12th, 2008 04:20 pm
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Writing is hard. It is. Some people think writers just sit down and spew genius, but that's usually not true. At least not among any of the writers I know.

Everything I have written since Clarion West has been utter drek. But you know what? That's okay.

There is a reason why rewrites and first readers and critique groups exist. No one should stop with a first draft.

This is what I tell myself, over and over again.
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I get a lot of questions about rearing kids and writing as much as I do, and how I'm as productive as I am. It was also something that both Mary Rosenblum and Connie Willis discussed with me at Clarion West. I was the only young mother there (the mother of a six-year-old and a three-year-old), and they knew the societal, familial, and personal expectations for me were and are huge.

Mary and Connie talked about how having a supportive spouse is important, and not everyone has that. There are really no answers for how to deal with that -- every relationship is as complicated and as unique as the people that are in it. But it is something that every writer has to deal with (can and will and does the person I'm with understand why I spend all this time doing what I do?) can they deal with this?), and it's particularly an issue to deal with when one is a wife and mother. Despite the evolution of our culture and the role of women within it, there are a lot of attitudes and expectations that have not changed. Particularly in Idaho.

Read more... )

Finally, it's about choices.  There are a lot of things I don't spend my time on right now because if I'm to mother and write and do all these other things something will have to give.  This is part of the reason why I don't currently work on music much.  I have, in the past, played several instruments, my favorites being the piano and guitar, and I also sang, once upon a time.  I once was heavily involved with theater.  I used to be an artist, winning awards for my work.  I crochet, I knit.  I love to cook and garden and read.  I love movies.  I love hiking and exploring places I wouldn't take my children until they're older.  I love experiencing new things, pushing myself to the edge, feeling myself get carried away physically by whatever I'm challenging myself with.  I love to meet people, be with people.  I love to learn new things. I love to travel. I love to do research.  I have studied four languages, other than English.  But there isn't time to do all this now, so I make choices as to how to spend my time.  The piano and guitar will be there when the kids are older.  So will the yarn, and the theater, and the hiking trails and biking trails.  I do some of these things occasionally, but I don't pursue them as much as I'd like.  Mostly, I mother, I write, I read a bit (not as voraciously as I used to -- my permanent companions were books for so many years), and I love the people who are important to me.  And I blog.  Because blogging helps me process my life, and it's a record of who I am now.  And someday, someone will care.  I already have cared about who I was in the past, and my progeny may want to know who I was, as well.

I'm anthropologist.  We keep records.  Anthropologists are those who write things down at the end of the day.

albionidaho: (Default)
Today is brought to you by green tea and Placebo and Placebo (Hah! It's young Brian and old Brian!).

I have heard and read that people can process what they learned at Clarion and Clarion West for a least a year afterward.

I completely believe this.

I just had a revelation.  I think. =)

During week six, our instructor was Chuck Palahniuk.  He was wonderful -- kind, gentle, loving.  And he truly does believe you are a special and unique snowflake, unlike anyone else.  I adored him.  He's a beautiful, beautiful man.  And he has a lovely speaking voice.  (And, as you read on, you'll realize I've been lazy here and haven't followed Chuck's lesson I discuss below.  We'll have to cope; I'm in a hurry.)

One lesson he tried to teach us, which is not only useful for minimalist fiction (of which Chuck is a practitioner) but for all fiction, is the concept of specifics.  I may not be calling it the right term (I'd have to double check my CW notes), but let's run with that.

Chuck would say that a writer telling the reader that a character is 6' 5" doesn't tell anything.  It's not specific.  Telling the reader that someone weighs 135 pounds doesn't say anything.  Telling the reader that someone was 36 means nothing at all.  But when one adds context and fits the character's qualities and characteristics in with their life and the rest of the character's lives, suddenly so much more meaning can be implied and inferred. 

From Amy Hempel's "The Harvest":

"The year I began to say vahz instead of vase, a man I barely knew nearly accidentally killed me. "

In this one opening line Hempel tells the reader so much about what is to come in the rest of the story.  The section "The year I began to say vahz instead of vase," tells the reader a huge amount about the character, so much more so than if she'd said, "The year I turned thirty-two...". 

Just chew on that for a bit.

During his week, Chuck kept telling us that one of our classmates, Kristin, was pretty (and she is) because she has two eyes, two ears, a nose, and a mouth.  Several of us responded with, "What the hell does that mean?  Of course she does." 

But today I realized I think it's about specifics.  I could be wrong, and I hope my classmates call me on it if I am (and I'll tell you if they do), but I think he was trying to say, "Be specific.  Be detailed.  Kristin looks like most other folks; most folks have two eyes, two ears, a nose, and a mouth, but Kristin is pretty because she has her two eyes, her two ears, her nose, her mouth.  Show the reader what that means for Kristin, show the reader what this means for the other characters.  Tell the reader about the year Kristin started calling a vase a vahz.

I'm still processing.  This is really starting to make sense to me.  Does this make sense to anyone else?

  This is the text of Hempel's "The Harvest".  One could spend a lot of time dissecting this story.  Hempel is brilliant.

albionidaho: (Default)
Today is brought to you by Lemon Ginger tea and Placebo. (See? Told you we're getting back to normal. One bit at a time.)

Have I mentioned that writing is hard?

Have I mentioned that writing post-Clarion West is hard? Have I mentioned that whilst on particular medications writing is insanely hard?

Ellen Datlow has commented that if one had recently returned from one of the Clarions and was having a hard time writing, or wasn't writing at all, not to worry. This was normal. It was if one wasn't writing after a year that one should worry.

I'm writing. I'm writing a lot. But this is still something I keep comforting myself with.
albionidaho: (Default)
I spent last weekend and the first part of this week with [ profile] pamrentz, [ profile] spitkitten, and [ profile] chris_reynaga. It was wonderful to enjoy the electric company (hah!) of these talented, loving, warm, funny people. Caren was a fabulous hostess, Pam rocked my world (as usual), and Chris was his usual entertaining self.

[ profile] chris_reynaga and I attended Charles De Lint's workshop on Heroes and Villians, which was informative, insightful, and where Chris completely shook the place up. He's a talented writer (and musician) -- you'll be seeing his name all over the place soon enough.

I could blog more about the weekend, but my classmates have already done a fine job of it, and so I'll direct you to their entries:


I'd also like to point you here. Clarion West has received a Challenge Grant from Amazon. I strongly encourage you to look into the details.


Oct. 18th, 2008 10:49 am
albionidaho: (Default)
Clarion SD and Clarion West have both announced their 2009 instructors.

If you believe that this sort of environment would be beneficial for you and you want to go, do all you can to make it happen.

At this time a year ago I could see no possible way for me to go, and I got there. And it completely changed my life in 1,000 good ways. I can't tell you what it's done for me as a writer. I can't tell you how much I would love to go back another year.

If I could work it out anyone can work it out -- if you want to go, you can make it happen.

Now, go write an application story.

Addendum: Paul Park is at Clarion SD this year, seemingly for the last two weeks with Liz Hand. (At this point.) I cannot say enough good things about him. He is an amazing instructor.
albionidaho: (Default)
The master himself in the cape the Clarion West class of 2008 gave him.


Cory was wonderful. We learned a ton from him and absolutely enjoyed his company. He was totally made of teh awesome. He took us for walks, we did yoga, he thought that me writing a story about being nice to people was a perfectly fine thing to do indeed. AND he was wonderful to Avadore. Soooooooooooooo nice to Avadore. He talked to him, treated him like a real person, showed Avadore pictures of his daughter, and signed a copy of Little Brother for him. He was supportive of me, and fantastically encouraging.

He was supportive of all of us.

AND he made an incredibly generous donation to the laptop fund when the four laptops were stolen from the house.

One thing the instructors taught me to do was to bloody well go out there and believe in myself completely and totally. They taught me about taking on the world and making my life what I wanted it to be. They taught me about believing in myself and my writing. They taught me about absolute confidence. I tried to be realistic. They said, "Screw that! Do what thou wilt!"

I'm still trying to integrate this into my life. But that's an entry for another time.
albionidaho: (Default)
I owe e-mails. If you've e-mailed me and haven't received a response it's not because I am not thinking of you or don't love you or you wrote something that annoyed me... it's because I'm still putting life back together again.

Clarion West was amazing and did incredible things for my writing. It also gave me time away from my usual life to ponder over things that have been troubling me for some time, but whilst being in the thick of things I wasn't able to process everything. Clarion West gave me the time away to do that.

It literally changed my life and changed me in so many ways.

It is one of the best things I have ever done, but oh, it's hard coming home, just for starters.

I keep dreaming I'm back there or we'll be back together again next summer.

But I love you all, and I'll be in touch. Just be patient.


albionidaho: (Default)

January 2012

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