Les Semaines

April 22, 2007

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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And Now This

What is there to say about this past week? As the news started pouring in I simply couldn't believe what had happened, two weeks to the day of the shooting in our office. Two weeks.

There's nothing I can add to what has been said about the VA Tech events, but they touched everyone. We were all following the news obsessively. A friend of a close friend of Devin's died. And Jamie Bishop, son of speculative fiction writer and Clarion West instructor, Michael Bishop. The wrongness and the horrific nature of how it unfolded.

Then the biggest suicide bombing in Iraq yet.

Then sad news about a member of my extended family.

I feel like in the last few weeks I've sitting in a sandstorm of and it's all piling up in a drift around me. It's all bits of news and mostly bad.

I spent two nights doing my least favourite job for Clarion West--sending out rejection letters. I finally had crafted a letter that said what we wanted it to without being either wimpy or harsh, but sending it spawned another flurry of email responses of unsuccessful applicants asking why. These are so hard to answer and should be so easy. The truth is that we have 18 places and many, many more applicants than places. But then the question becomes why not me? What did I do wrong? What could I do better? The anwer there isn't so simple. The truth is that nearly everyone who knows enough about the workshop to be brave enough and ready enough to apply is qualified. Why one person and not another is based on the opinions of three different readers. We can't choose everyone, so we choose the people who in the eyes of the readers have built some basic skills but also have some particular spark of imagination, or power of voice, or way with prose, or especially who are taking chances, trying to stretch their abilities, because heaven knows that's what they're going to be doing more of during the workshop. Which of course doesn't mean that the applicant who didn't get in didn't have those things or weren't trying to stretch themselves.

So, difficult and time-consuming answers to write.

Some lovely things have happened. Wonderful messages from friends that have buoyed me up. I have learned the value of condolences, and am so grateful for them. One group of former Clarion West students made donations on my behalf to local anti-domestic violence programs. But still I am at the end of my emotional rope, and can hardly wait for April to be over. I want to have a conversation with someone where I don't talk about these things almost obsessively or say at least one profoundly depressing thing.

I want my heart to stop racing whenever there's a loud noise, particularly at work. I want to sleep well. I want to stop complaining about how neurotic I feel. I want to enjoy the spring weather. And I want to have more time when I can just hang out with the kittens.

While I was typing here, Atia leaped into my lap, as she so often does while I'm at my computer. I rubbed her face and held her till she got bored and now she has decided to sleep on top of the printer beside me. As she's going to sleep she always breathes heavily, almost snoring, for a few minutes. She just passed that stage and is asleep there now.

I'm going to go to bed and try to do the same. May everyone have a peaceful, restful sleep tonight, and wake refreshed to reassemble their lives into the end of April.

May there be no more bad news.

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