Clarion, Day 6

I’m about a week into Clarion; the first week of instruction, which was with Paul Park, has finished but it’s only Saturday so the first week isn’t over. Paul has this excellent ability to cut to the heart of the matter of things, or, perhaps, more importantly, to get us to look at the heart of the matter of things. Socratic method — questions, spinning out of implications, changing direction and starting again with more questions, until we seem to have reached somewhere. And storytime: I will really miss hearing him reading stories. The man should be reading audiobooks. So anyway, what’s happened in the last week amounts to a very attentive reevaluation of fundamentals; a kind of, “You’re about to start running like hell for the rest of the summer, so let’s make sure you are walking straight, with the right posture, first.” Exercise after exercise focused on small things, but those small things turned out to be enormous things, maybe even everything. I feel like I have learned so much that my mental writing software has been upgraded from 2.0 to 3.01 or something.

The group seems really good, fairly agile with ideas; bounce, bounce, someone’s suggestion gets rebounded into something else, the ramification or the result amplified, the significance of this or that neglected element of a story turning out to make the difference between a merely good idea and an excellent one. We have one guy who’s into science, and who seems to be the guy to turn to with science questions; but everyone had interesting ideas, and nearly everything I’ve seen has impressed me. We’re also socially getting along pretty well, at least for now. Some people are a little quieter, some a little louder (me included, I think), and a little more balance wouldn’t hurt — especially because hearing more from the quiet ones would be nice — but all in all, so far, we’re getting along well. I’ve been surprised by how cooperative, how compensatory people are. There is a kind of psychology that kicks in with a group this size.

Oooh, and last night, among other people, Vonda McIntyre showed up with hand-crocheted stress-reliever thingies. (Some people are calling them “anemones” in reference to a particularly well-plotted story from last week about divers and giant anemones on Europa.) I was quite impressed by her generosity, and have the creature on my desk here as I write this. He’s psychedelic in coloration and ever so slightly insane. And a big ‘un, he is.

My updates for the next few weeks will probably come in this form, by the way: Saturday morning pre-breakfast, in my pyjamas, reflecting on the past week. But not as long as this, perhaps: I’m slated to turn in stories on Sunday nights, and therefore will be doing more than just critiquing and relaxing on weekends.

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