Sunday, July 27, 2014

Week 6 of Clarion West 2014

It's Sunday afternoon, beginning of week 6, here at the 2014 Clarion West Writers Workshop in sunny Seattle. My fan rotates lazily behind me. Cars whoosh down the street outside my window.  My stomach is full of ham-and-egg scramble from the Mexican restaurant nearby. My tree puppet continues to be supportive, and uncannily wise.

And so we begin our week of lasts. Last critiques, last provided meals, last hanging out on the couch watching Kurt Russell movies. I have an annoying tendency to become sentimental about events as they're happening, so I'll try not to do that too much more. But even as I'm excited to go back to the real world again, I'm also sad to be leaving this place behind. Already I have one foot in and one foot out and I'm struggling to keep my focus on the present.

Tonight we meet our last instructor, John Crowley. We just said our goodbyes to Charlie Jane Anders.

Only 1 more story left to write. Only 17 more critiques left to deliver.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Starting week 5 of Clarion West

I'm sitting at my desk in my room at Clarion West on a Sunday afternoon. After a stretch of hot dry days, the weather has turned cool and I am enjoying a chance to wear jeans again, my old uniform. We're starting our fifth week, which means I only have two stories left to write and up to 34 stories to critique.

Not that I'm counting.

Time is strange. It simultaneously feels as if I've always been here and I've just arrived. The absence of television is probably a factor. The constant nap-taking definitely adds to the disorientation. Not to repeat last week's post too much, but I continue to be in awe of everybody's talent and work ethic and so happy to have been included in this experience. But I can feel the exhaustion tugging at me, the real world reasserting itself, and I am trying to cushion the landing by eating regularly, taking naps, being kind to myself.

Some days I am more successful than others.

Last night I lay in my bunk listening to party sounds from the street--mostly dudebros shouting at each other over terrible pounding music. A young man's voice rose above the din--aggressive, slurred, and slightly desperate. He shouted, "What fucking street is this? How did I get here? Where the fuck am I?"

I rolled over and fell asleep.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Week Four, Clarion West

Hello, world. We've just passed the half-way point here at the 2014 Clarion West Writers Workshop. It is hot outside for Seattle and I am not used to this stifling heat so I am drinking a cold beer (Obsidian Stout from Deschutes Brewery) and sitting in a basement (have I said too much?) trying to write my fourth week story.

There's a paper cutout of a gray turtle taped to the wall.

There's not much else to say. This is an amazing experience. I am in awe of everything all the time. They're feeding me well. I'm drinking a lot (both alcohol and water). I sleep on the lower bunk of a bunk bed. I brought two fans from home. When I leave I will probably be lonely because there is always somebody doing something and I haven't taken enough advantage of that yet. Later, will the quiet unman me? Stay tuned.

There is a lot of work to do here. Sometimes I nap. Often I nap. Sometimes I feel old and out of touch. I stare off into space. I read crazy wonderful prose and think about why it works and why it doesn't. I formulate opinions and express them. I eat. Things happen. Time contracts, expands. I make a fancy salad.

The hand crank on my window broke off. That is the worst.

So you see, everything is fine. Situation normal. I am working on my third short story out of five, in the basement, with an ice cold bottle of beer and Colonel Mustard. I am surrounded by clever folks. I am possibly going mad.

And that about sums it up through week three.