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19 June 2009 @ 09:13 am
Choosing First Clarion Story  
I hope to post periodic updates on my Clarion experience here, although not every day. What I'd most like to do is share the best writing advice that I hear from the instructors, and the insights that arise from the crit process.

I'll parallel-post on my other LJ, and if there's anything I consider to be sensitive, I'll probably friends-lock it there (all posts on this LJ are public). If you'd like to read those sensitive posts (if any) and you're not already on my flist at the other LJ, send me an e-mail and we'll talk.

I'll be arriving at La Jolla in nine days. blackholly, who's the Week One instructor, asked us to decide whether to use one of our submission stories for the Week One crit, or rather write a new one. This presented me with an opportunity. Of the two stories I submitted, one has had a lot of praise from editors, and there's one editor (you know who you are) who's been sitting on it for more than seven months, who says he might, might, just might publish it.

But the other story, which was singled out for praise by one of the Clarion judges (never mind how I know that), has been form-rejected from a handful of markets, and didn't even merit an Honorable Mention at WotF. That intrigues me -- Here's a story I know has merit, and which I also know has marked problems, but I don't know what they are. I can't imagine a better opportunity for a group-crit.

So I'm going into the Week One Crit genuinely hoping that my classmates will find flaws with my story -- and hoping especially that they'll all find the same flaws. Because then my job will be easy. :)

For some reason I'm fixating on the social aspect of Clarion, and worrying that I'll make an offensive nuisance of myself. Everyone says that the biggest benefit from these workshops is the strong community of loyal writer-friends you have when it's done, and I have repeated, unhappy fantasies of being so toxic that no one wants to know me when it's over. That's a very old fear of mine, and it's galling that it surfaces now, when I've got this once-in-a-lifetime, thrilling experience to anticipate. Grr.
Current Location: Rain
Current Music: "Runaway"
ex_camillea on June 19th, 2009 01:42 pm (UTC)
Learn lots. Don't fear. Have fun.

Kenken_schneyer on June 19th, 2009 03:03 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Camille. I'll take your advice to heart.
Tiffanienggirl on June 19th, 2009 02:11 pm (UTC)
Don't despair. It's likely that most--if not all--of us are dreading that moment when we step. right. into. it. I give myself about 24 hours before I say something ridiculously stupid. Just relax and let yourself have fun--yes, even the silly kind :) Nothing worse than a writer who takes him/herself too seriously!

I, too, have chosen to go with one of my app stories. I picked the one that's collected 4 rejections so far; I got some feedback on it way back and tweaked it, but now I'm just not sure about it.

And now I'm totally curious to know how you got inside info!
Kenken_schneyer on June 19th, 2009 03:03 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Tiff. That's good, reassuring talk for me.
ajjones on June 19th, 2009 02:58 pm (UTC)
LOL Where does this fear come from? Have you been accused of toxicity in the past?

I'm sure you'll have a great, non-toxic time.
Kenken_schneyer on June 19th, 2009 03:14 pm (UTC)
Thanks, AJ. I hope so.

(Yes, unfortunately such accusations have been made. Ask Chris.)
J. Kathleen Cheneyj_cheney on June 19th, 2009 03:38 pm (UTC)
So here's my social advice: Don't hug any of the northerners...

(That's the one I keep messing up). Seriously, if you're sensitive enough to be aware that you have issues there, then that's a great start. ;o)

Ken: Blowing Kissken_schneyer on June 21st, 2009 05:46 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Jeanne. I'll take your advice to heart.

I'm a northerner myself, so I'm okay with that part. I guess I'll just make a point of remembering that the hugs from the southerners are not amorous advances. ;)
J. Kathleen Cheneyj_cheney on June 21st, 2009 05:48 pm (UTC)
mmerriam on June 19th, 2009 03:53 pm (UTC)
I'm looking forward to hearing about your Clarion experience. I've considered this workshop, or something similar, like Viable Paradise. I knew several Clarion alums. It seems most came out with renewed purpose and a clearer understanding of story, some few it made no difference for, and a handful came out broken and didn't write again for years, if ever. You're an older, smarter guy, so I suspect you'll be in the former group.
Ken: Hmmmmmken_schneyer on June 21st, 2009 05:48 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Michael.

One of our number -- enggirl is a VP alum from last year. I seriously considered applying to VP, but it runs when I'm required to be teaching, so that's a non-starter.