Clarion West Week 4

Hey all.

Well, Nalo’s gone, and like all of our tutors so far, we miss her. She was sharp in critiques, friendly both in and out of class, and she spent extra time with us outside class, including a special session depicting people of sexualities that may not be exactly like our own — about tackling the heterogeneity that can exist in imaginary worlds, and which can make those worlds more interesting and exciting. But she wasn’t just great on diversity/sexuality-related writing, and it’d be unfortunate if she were typecast as being mostly about that, when in fact, she’s mostly just about excellent storytelling.

Her criticism of work was great, her reading was outstanding, and the mood she brought to the classroom was also excellent. I got wonderful feedback during the conference session, including things as diverse as suggestions for my writing, and ideas about the practicability of having a writing career on the grow while still living abroad.

This week’s story — there may be two next week, as I’ve committed to two — is titled “Comfort”. There’s a vague reaching-out to a theme related to Korean comfort women, but it’s extremely vague. I have managed to do some reading about the subject while here, but not enough to handle it in fiction. I won’t say what angle I’m taking except it’s a ghost story and involves some foreigners in rural Korea.

The first line is:

Half-listening to his students, Wayne’s eyes traced the phrase, GET OUT OF KOREA WHILE YOU STILL CAN. It was scrawled on his desk in red pen, presumably left behind by the guy he’d replaced.

I’ve got two more stories to go, as I mentioned, so I’d best go think about the one that’s half-done, as it needs to be done on Thursday night (and the next one on Sunday night). But I have pretty clear ideas and outlines and characters and even plot for both, sort of… the Sunday night one will be a little harder to pull off, since I’ll be transplanting the plot I cooked up in Week 1 (working with Paul Park) from a contemporary setting to the 1950s. (I blame this particular bit of inspiration on the Duke Ellington CD collection I got for cheap this afternoon.) But, hey, what’s Clarion West without a little struggle?

Two more weeks: one with Ellen Datlow, whom we met tonight and who seems really cool (and with whom we had a great dinner of ciopatto I think it was), and then the last week with Vernor Vinge. We’re two thirds done and I think we’re doing well in terms of respect, courtesy, politeness, and generosity. Great bunch.

I should be back online, a little more regularly than now though probably less than usual, in a couple of weeks… just in case anyone was wondering.

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