Les Semaines

July 24, 2005

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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Fifth Week of Clarion West 2005

This week was the editor's week, this year Gordon Van Gelder of F&FS (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction). Gordon is very straightforward as an instructor, and especially clear on where stories lose steam (and an editor's interest). He's a kind and interesting person, but pulls no punches. I felt like I learned a lot about how editors think from hearing his critiques and comments, and he gave a long talk about the process of publishing a novel, which I found especially personally useful as in a month or so I'm going to start the long process of sending my novel out into the world. All in all, if was an informative, learning week.

The writing came a little easier (see below), which I'm grateful for as another week like last week might have killed me.

The time goes so quickly while the workshop is on that it's hard to think much less remember everything that goes on to write here. One thing I forgot to mention was that for the last two Tuesdays I've brought the sugar gliders in to the workshop, so the students have been able to see a small furry life form. First it was just Reuben and Alvin, and then last week I brought Rhonda, too. They were well behaved and had fun, and luckily because they're sleepy, they're not too distracting during the critiques, and the students seem to forget they're there. This Tuesday Alvin fell asleep in one of the student's pockets and right at the end of the class, t the end of an open discussion about the story, the student must have touched her, because she started to crab. No one had heard the noise before, so it was pretty funny.

Devin is in the process of moving, so she's really busy. Working and packing and all. Jim has been helping as he can. I haven't at all.

I was pretty sick on Friday, having somehow taken ibuprofen with not enough in my stomach, because I had really bad stomach aches for about 10 hours, and even was sick, which I very rarely am. Needless to say, I missed the party to say goodbye to Gordon, and felt bad about that. It's the first party I've missed since I've started officially working for the workshop. I'm actually still feeling a little weird, but I have to keep taking the ibuprofen. I've been sure to take at least a glass of milk each time.

Off we go into the final week of the workshop, and for me the final week of the Write-a-thon. Wish me luck!

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

Listening

Not much time to listen, but a reminder that Veda Hille's Here is a picture: songs for Emily Carr is one of the most brilliant albums in existence.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

Kenneth Oppel's Airborn is a delight. It's a steampunk novel in which our smart, ambitious hero Matt is a cabin boy on a transcontinental airship. On crows-nest lookout duty, he spot a balloonist in trouble and helps rescue the pilot, who unfortunately dies. On his next voyage, the pilot's rich, young granddaughter is on board, and wants Matt to help her prove that the fantastic creatures her grandfather described in his ship's log just shortly before his death exist. Add pirates and storms to the mix, and you have a delightful novel. The characters were terrific, too. A real winner.

To remind myself what had happened recently in the Harry Potter world, I re-read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which I enjoyed. It's not my favourite of the novel--Harry is a little too sullenly teenaged though I like that he finds out that his parents weren't perfect and how is great weakness is that he loves people, which is really interesting considering how he was raised by the Dursleys.

Then I read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, who I was sure was going to turn out to be Voldemort. This book surprised me. I thought that the way Harry grew up on this book was extremely well-handled. He truly is becoming a adult and certainly much wiser. I liked the bit about the prophecy, the relationships and people's pasts. The death at the ending seemed inevitable to me: Harry couldn't come fully into his own without it.

Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple's short young adult novel, Pay The Piper: A Rock 'n' Roll Fairy Tale packs an intriguing story in its short pages. I liked the characters quite a bit, but would have liked just a bit more at the end to get a sense of where they would go from there. This is the first of a series, but I have no idea if any of the characters will reoccur. I hope they will.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

My report for this week.

Dear Write-a-thon sponsors--

Writing was easier this week than last, for which I am truly grateful. Another week like last week might have done me in. I tried very hard to write a little each day, and mostly managed to, got a goodly sized chunk done yesterday at my coffee shop writing session, and then added a few final hundred words tonight after coming back from introducing the Clarion West class to their final instructor.

Right now the novel stands at 21,188 Word words, so I wrote 3,309 words. I meant to add last week, when the novel length passed 17,000 words that it's now officially novella length (and will remain so till about 40,000 words, after which I can call it novel length).

While riding the not-quite-a-horse around the borders of the valley she lives in (or is trapped in) our heroine holds a long conversation and Learns A Few Things.

One more week, the busiest week for the workshop itself, so I hope I can pull through. Thanks again for taking this journey with me.

--Neile

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Retrospective: old journal

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