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retrospective: old journal

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Les Semaines



Fifth Week of Clarion West 2003

This was Patrick Nielsen Hayden's week teaching the class. We met him at the Bear's party on Saturday, but his week really started with the Sunday orientation, where he talked a while and took questions about publishing. Patrick was a fine teacher, generous, clear, and brief about sharing what worked for him and why, and what didn't work and why. Several of the students brought in novel portions and synopses for him to look at but he was also generous about looking at other stories before student conferences, and so he got a little deluged.

There were two outbursts in/around class, but I missed them both as they were on Monday and Friday my days out of the classroom, and seem both to be over though they were by the same student. It's the fifth week and tempers are running rough, but most of the class seems able to handle it. I'm really tired, so in some ways I'm really ready for this workshop to be over though I'll miss a lot of the students very much--none of them are local.

There's also tons of gossip going around about exactly what happened at another workshop and a little (wrongly reported) about what went on with ours several years ago. It's making me crazy, all this buzz buzz buzz.

On Thursday night, after Patrick's interview at the Science Fiction Experience, he and Leslie came back and with a group of students we played Thing, a simpler form of the mafia game. I was just watching at first, but then became the slightly inefficient narrator. It was a lot of fun, and I found myself wanting to play again. Soon. So at the party Friday night there was another round. It was a large group so it wasn't quite as fun as the Thursday night when the small size made it more intense. But it was fun watching them play in the dark by the distant porchlight and a few candles.

I slept a lot on Friday and Saturday, never quite feeling really awake. Tamar came over for dinner Saturday (we got take out from Bengal Tiger), and we watched our DVD of The Hours, which Tamar hadn't yet seen. It was as good as I remembered it being.

Christina phoned me yesterday and now we're working on organizing a trip to Scotland for ten days at the end of August. I'm alternately excited and wearied by the idea. I wish there were a way to schedule it so I'd still have ten days before I had to go back to work, but with mom coming to visit when she does, we're out of days.

And that's basically what the entire coming week--the last week of Clarion West 2003--will be about.


last week's thinking and doing § next week's thinking and doing



Daughter Darling's first disc, sweet shadows is a delight. It has a variety of mood and flavours, but is basically moody trip hop pop, full of gorgeous, evocative vocals, interesting sounds and melodic lines. I'm looking forward to memorizing this one.

last week's listening § next week's listening



Terry McGarry's The Binder's Road is the sequel to Illumination (see my November 18, 2001 entry for comments), and when I look back at that entry it's amazing how my experience reading this book paralleled my experience reading that one. This began incredibly complicated, following various characters, some in italics (ick!), and to me it felt frustratingly ungrounded and unclear. But as I continued I could put more pieces together and finally the narrative started to flow. This is the story of characters trying to put their world back together after it has been entirely shaken apart. There are enemies to fight, but the biggest enemy is ignorance and confusion, and for that I honour the book.

ElizaBeth Gilligan's Magic's Silken Snare, the first of her Silken Magic series is a first fantasy novel. It's the story of a young Rom princess married to a Duke in an Italian Renaissance analogue where the Romany people have magic. Her sister is murdered and her spirit ensnared for evil magic, and she declares vendetta, returning to court, where her estranged husband meets her and she unravels the mystery of her sister's death and a plot against her country and king. This was an entirely pleasant read, spoiled a bit various coincidences and by how defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory in order to extend the series. I would have liked this better had the next book started with a different villain.

I've never heard of Herbie Brennan before though he is supposed to have published some 60 books, and I suppose after reading Faerie Wars I'm not entirely surprised. It's the story of a young boy who is having family problems and discovers a faery in the garden--a faery who arrived there to deflect pursuit during strife between the dark faeries and the light. This is clearly set up to be a series to match the Harry Potter series, and has the same flaws that the others do: it's just thin without the wonderful details of characters and setting that the Rowling books do. It's just not engaging enough. I found myself struggling not to put this one down.

last week's reading § next week's reading



I just don't have any time when I'm not in recovery from all the Clarion West goings on. I keep thinking about the novel and what I need to do but never have a moment to do anything about it.

last week's writing § next week's writing


Retrospective: old journal

August 1990

1607. More Yet
August 15, 1990

This not the frost that freezes fell
Nor blowing snows inclemency
Tis not such cold that makes me cry
But my love's heart's grown cold to me
O waly waly love is bonny
A little while when first it's new
But love grows old and waxes cold
And fades away like morning dew.
            Waly Waly

'Cum down, cum down, my bonie bird,
Cum sit upon my hand;
And ye sall hae a cage o the gowd,
Where he hae but the wand.'

'O there's a bird intill your bowir
  That sings sae sad and sweet;
O there's a bird intill your bowr
  Kept me frae my nicht's sleep.'
            Young Hunting

'O who is this at my bower-door,
  Sae well that knows my name?'
'It is your ain true-love, Willie,
  If ye love me, lat me in."
            Willie and Lady Maisry

'O mourn ye for my coming, love?
  Or for my short staying?
Or Mourn ye for our safe sindring
  Case we never meet again?'
            The Bent Sae Brown

'O sorrow, sorrow come mak my bed,
  An dool come lay me doon.'
for I'll neither eat nor drink,
  Nor set a fit on ground.
            The Clerk's Twa Sons o Owsenford

'O I did get the rose-water
  Whair ye wull neir get nane,
For I did get that very rose-water
  Into my mither's wame.'
            Lord Thomas & Fair Annet

'I gat my beauty
  Where ye was no to see;
I gat it i my father's gardn
  Aneath an apple tree.'
           Fair Anne & Sweet Willie

As it fell out on a long summer's days
  Two lovers they sat on a hill,
They sat together that long summer's day,
  And could not talk their fill.
           Fair Margaret & Sweet William

'Awa, awa, you ill woman,
  You've na come here for gude;
You're but a witch, or wile warlock,
  Or mermaid o the flude
           Fair Anny

You beautious ladies great and small,
  I write unto you one and all
Whereby that you may understand
  What I have suffered in this land.
           The Famous Flower of Serving-Men

1608. One more
August 16, 1990

'My father was as brave a lord
As ever Europe did afford;
My mother was a lady bright,
My husband was a valiant knight. [1]

1609. Pulling Together
August 17, 1990

All these quotes and I'm not sure if I'm going the right route or if I've even got the right general direction. Am I going to undo the poems or help gather them? Make a serious unity or a joke of it. If only I knew I could go ahead.
     Half of my month dedicated to this is gone and I have little to show for it. This I know but can do nothing about. The hours just disappear. Amazing how the speed of time changes. I remember when I was a child and days were eternal--something to do with how children live so intently in the minute? Anyway, the point is that I must get going--get the poems write and finished--get the book organized--get on with it.

1610. She Rises Like the Sun
August 26, 1990

Poems about the White Goddess.
It's Sunday and the day I sleep far too late and then go back to dream on, cats huddled around me for warmth. Let my mind go unchained and it feels unchained even yet. I read this book and think if her rising. Think of the word/spirits/minds/hearts/ unchained. Not mystical. Here.

1611. Plum Trees, for Susan
August 26, 1990

Now that we live on the coast
We help each other gather
tomatoes, apples, let the cherries
fall where they may, we pick
each other blackberries, which you
boil into jam and I bake into pies
and feed each other.
When we lived in Montana
you came to visit me in my red
Victorian house, bay windowed
and wallpapers, dusty stairs
to attic surprises, cats
in the hall
One night we sat talking on the porch
high on the second story looking out
to the mountain and the river hidden
by the town. We talked as night fell
and the darkness below us became
gradually alight as while our words
flow into the cool night wind
the tight buds of the plum tree opened
spread on the wind of our words
into full open bloom
After I left for the coast you moved
into that house, not that that mattered
for you followed here soon after
Now behind my house there is
a plum tree blooming. Its trunk
is hollow, but with roots still deep
and strong limbs it still dares
to fruit and live long. [2]


1. See the next message for what I was on about with these.

2. The final draft of this--heavily revised and rewritten, appears in Spells for Clear Vision.

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