Les Semaines

August 10, 2008

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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Our Revels Now Have Ended: Clarion West 2008

It's amazing how quickly time passes during the workshop and in the haze of exhaustion afterwards as well. Which translates: I never mean to bail on posting during the workshop but every year I seem to run out of time and energy and lo and behold I have done it again.

It's true that the last two weeks of the workshop are hectic, but I should be used to it by now. The problem is that between knowing the students are leaving and wanting to spend time with them before they do, and all that needs to be done to wrap things up, when I do have time to write here I'm usually either asleep or as good as. Alternatively, I may be sleepless and running through to do lists in my head.

Time escapes me.

Sheree R. Thomas gave a great reading. As did Chuck Palahniuk, which was a major and packed event. He was a fascinating teacher--I found myself taking notes again. The most rewarding was when I thought "hey, I already do that." But there were lots more tidbits that made me think "hey, I should check that out."

Thus the students had a great end to what seemed from my side to be a wonderful workshop, working how the workshop should, opening them up to all kinds of new insights about writing, giving them new perspectives about how to live and work as writers, and introducing them to part of the writing/reading network as well as helping them bond as a group. It was really hard to say goodbye to them, exhausting to pack up and get out of the house.

Did I mention how hard it was to say goodbye to this class?

I feel like I've slept for a week, but we did get a fresh coat of paint on the bathroom, did have a writing retreat day yesterday, and I have been driving Devin on her cast & crutches around about shopping for various things, which has been fun.

Tonight the round of August houseguests starts: first John Barton, then Devin's sister Bree, then Mom, then nephew Mark, then it's September and back to the day job for Neile.

In other family news, congratulations to Catriona and Randy on their forthcoming marriage!

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

Listening

I'm obsessed again with the first three songs on The Natural History Museum's Myspace page. Damn, I wish they'd release these on album. They're quirky and powerful, and I can't seem to get tired of them though I play them several times a day. I suspect, however, that Jim is getting a little tired of them.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

May Hooper's young adult historical novel, The Remarkable Life and Time of Eliza Rose is another melodrama. In a noble household, an infant boy is substituted for a newborn girl. Seventeen years later, Eliza Rose's stepmother calls her a cuckoo and throws her out of the house while her father is away. She follows him to London, only to find herself starving and jailed. A bawd rescues her, where upon she is about to be sold to the highest bidder when the bawd's daughter, an actress named Nell Gwynn who is trying to capture the king's attention, rescues Eliza. Unlikely, but fun.

Suzanne Harper's young adult novel, The Juliet Club follows the sensible Kate to a summer semester in Verona where she is to study Romeo and Juliet with a small group of other teenagers in a huge, beautiful villa. When the other attendees decides to make Kate and the debonair Giancomo fall in love, they pretend they do to outwit them...meanwhile back at home Kate's best friends have bet that Kate will fall in love this summer. Fun.

Alice Hoffman's novel The Third Angel is a cascade of connected character's lives going through several generations, all influenced by one central story. It begins with two sisters, one who is getting married, and the other sister has a brief affair with her fiancé, but before the wedding, the fiancé get cancer and is dying, echoing the sisters' mother who had survived hers. The next story is the fiancé's mother, and the next is the sister's mother. Throughout there are interwoven characters and situations. There's a lot of think about here and understandable characters. I wasn't wowed, though.

Ellen Wittlinger's young adult novel, Sandpiper, is about a young girl who has brief relationship with boys then gets bored with them and breaks off--mostly because her relationships are so superficial. One of them gets really angered by this. At the same time, Sandpiper meets and finds herself drawn to a stranger to town who spends all his time walking through town and around the area. Meanwhile, her mother is getting remarried and she has to deal with her younger sister, and her new stepsister. A complicated but interesting story.

William Mayne's children's novel, The Farm That Ran Out of Names is about a Welsh farmer's unlikely solution to the farm his family has worked for hundreds of years being expropriated to be turned into a reservoir lake for the nearby city of Birmingham. Charming.

Suzanne Selfors' young adult fantasy novel Saving Juliet has a young reluctant actress from a theatre family playing Juliet opposite a pop star. Mimi is miserably suffering from stage fright when a wish takes her and the pop star to a version of 15th century Verona where they meet a version of Romeo and Juliet--but because of Mimi they don't meet when they're supposed to and everything goes awry. Good moments, but somewhat disappointing.

Lois McMaster Bujold's Passage is the third in her The Sharing Knife fantasy series. This was a quiet one, as the couple earned their way down the river, the drama really about them and their world and their difficulties navigating it until dramatic events toward the end. I didn't mind so much, though. Sometimes it's good reading about smaller parts of a daily struggle. Life isn't all drama.

William Mayne's children's novel, Low Tide is a strange tale about three children swept deep into the unexplored (by colonists) interior of New Zealand by a tidal wave. An odd and moving tale.

Havemercy, Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett's fantasy novel, follows four men whose kingdom is at war. Interestingly enough for a novel written by two women, this is a very male story--about war and loyalty and magic, and magically powered clockwork dragons. Funk

Christina Meldrum's odd young adult novel Madapple, is about the difficult life and family trauma of Aslaug, who is on trial for murder. She was brought up in isolation from the contemporary world, educated in languages, about nature, and plants in particular. When her mothers dies, she is thrust into a corner of the modern world--with her cousins and aunt--but they're as messed-up as she is. A strange and fascinating tale full of secrets.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

Some, not enough. Mostly tinkering revisions of poems and the novels.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: old journal

No perspective, retro or otherwise.

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

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