Les Semaines

July 25, 2004

what I'm thinking and doing § what I'm listening to § what I'm reading
what I'm writing § retrospective: old journal

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The Fifth Week of Clarion West 2004

This week was Larissa Lai's week. She arrived in time for the Bear's party, so I got to meet her then and she had a chance to talk to Jim Kelly and John Kessel there to get their impressions of the students before her part of the workshop began. She started the week at her Sunday night orientation with a writing exercise. I'm notoriously not a fan of writing exercises, but Leslie and I both decided to do this and I'm really glad I did as it turned out unpredictably but interesting. It was a kind of guided meditation exercise (Larissa said because she's a "West Coast hippy". Heh). Anyway, I got a lot out of it.

Larissa was a wonderful instructor to have this week. She focussed on two things: language and diversity issues, and had interesting things to say about both of them. Most of the students seemed more interested in one or the other topics, but it seemed like everyone got something out of the week. I particularly enjoyed getting to know her. We had several great, brief conversations and I wish we'd had more time to talk but it was a busy, draining week for her, and somewhat for me, also. Her reading was also really interesting: she read poetry, some of Salt Fish Girl, which I love, and then there was one of the best Q&A question times so far. Larissa is thoughtful and focused on the ethics and making personal decisions about issues rather than being prescriptive or strident, which was powerfully refreshing.

She ended the week with another meditative writing exercise, which surprised and pleased me again. After that I took her and two of the students most interested in poetry to grab a quick lunch and then to Open Books, Seattle's poetry-only bookstore (one of two in the U.S.), then had to race back for Larissa's final student conferences. We also had two of what Leslie calls "mystery muses" in the afternoon: first Kay Kenyon, an SF (whose Tropic of Creation I really enjoyed) and David Marusek, a 1992 Clarion West student who has won several awards for his short stories and who has just sold his first novel. They complimented each other well.

And the weather has changed again and cooled off a little. Hooray.

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

Listening

On Thursday night Jim, Tamar, and I went to hear Two loons for Tea. If I'd known in advance that they were starting so much later than their scheduled time I probably would have wimped out but we didn't discover it until we were already at the Tractor Tavern and so we stayed, and I'm really glad I did. I just love their sound: great songwriting, Sarah's wonderful voice, and Jonathan's guitar work.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

I had already read the wonderful Salt Fish Girl (see my April 20, 2003 entry for comments) so while Larissa was here I read her first novel, When Fox is a Thousand. This story is a mix of folktale and realistic fiction, and an intertwining of three stories: that of fox who is magically taking on human forms, that of a ninth-century Chinese poet/nun, and that of a young woman in contemporary Vancouver. I really did find it spellbinding and may like it even more than Salt Fish Girl. Truly delightful.

Being tired and having seen the Ghibli trailer for the upcoming movie, I decided to re-read Diana Wynne Jones' Howl's Moving Castle then of course had to read its sequel Castle in the Air. Both are delightful, light, magical tales. I love Diana Wynne Jones's imagination.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

My Dear Clarion West Shadow Workshop Write-a-thon sponsors:

The fifth week of the write-a-thon has ended and (hooray!) I was able to complete my chapter revision a day early even, which meant that I could spend some time Sunday proofreading and doing extra tweaking.

I'm getting a little worn down from the constant Clarion West activity, lack of sleep, and the summer temperatures, which meant that I started off way behind, and didn't get any significant work done during the early part of the week. Happily, before I could seriously panic, I caught up. Part of this week's work entailed adding a long, new scene, which I had fun writing. It makes me very happy.

This chapter was only 31 pages, so back to being proportional with most of the rest.

Now to start work on chapter 10, the last for the write-a-thon.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: old journal

The Retrospective Journal is still on hiatus.

last week's old journal § next week's old journal

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