Philip Brewer's Writing Progress


Saturday, 16 June 2001

The first thing Jim Kelly said when I met him was that he'd been reading my journal. That's a bit daunting. I know that people are reading it, even though I don't have a web counter. I've gotten some email from readers. The other journalers have told me of people who read their journals that have mentioned reading mine. Somebody who has one of the fancier web statistics services said that she was getting many more hits on her site than before, and she could tell that many of them were coming through the link on my page. Dora said "My husband called and said 'Poor Phil always gets killed when he's a villager! That's so sad!'"

The reason I don't have a web counter is that I'm trying to maintain the illusion that I'm doing about the same kind of journal that I'd do if it didn't have any readers. It probably is just an illusion, but I find it a helpful one.

I decided to do a journal because of my own appreciation for other people's Clarion journals, so I'm glad if people are appreciating mine.

There was a lot of journal angst on the mailing list before we came--enough to convince at least one person not to keep an on-line journal. People were worried that both classmates and instructors would be over-cautious about what they said and they worried about being exposed to the world in ways that they had no control over. With that in mind, I've been scrupulous about checking with people before mentioning them by name in the journal, and have taken some care even when just speaking in general terms.

I haven't talked about that stuff much before, because I didn't want the journal to become about journaling instead of about me and Clarion. So, I'll go on mostly avoiding meta-journaling.

I made an editing pass over my story today. I'm pretty happy with it. I want to go over the second half one more time, but I'm sure I'll be able to turn it in on Monday.

We did two critiques this morning, doing a special Saturday session so that we can get critiques from the two Kellys at once. We only have one story for Monday, so that should be an easy day.

In class, Jim had one good bit that he attributed to Frederik Pohl: Every page should have an off-sense impression. By off-sense he meant something other than sight or sound.

After lunch we had the dueling Kellys talking about publishing as a business and writing as a career and then a bit of personal writing habits stuff. Most of what they had to say was a bit sad (in terms of what the odds were that any one of us would ever be able to make a living as a writer). But it was, perhaps, a good counterweight to what Steven Barnes had to say on the topic. Steve said that any of us definitely would be able to make a living writing--and writing the sorts of things we wanted to write--if we put enough effort into it. But by "enough" he meant a whole lot, and he meant putting the effort into all the different things that the business calls for: not just writing, but also networking, selling, writing other kinds of stuff too, and so on. I don't think either Jim or Kelly would have said that Steve was wrong, but they didn't promote that as the way to go. (But then, Steve didn't either, except for people who said they wanted to make a living as a full-time writer.)

Jim had one other good bit that he attributed to, I think, James Morrow: You can't write full-time. If you try to do that, you go crazy, because writing is too much inside yourself. Also, you need the outside contact not only for your sanity, but also as real-life experiences to feed into your work. Grist for the mill so to speak.

We played two games of Mafia and then one game of The Thing. I don't remember what happened in the first game, except that I was an innocent villager. The second game of Mafia was tragic--thanks to the Commandant, by the middle of the game we had identified three confirmed innocent villagers (including me). The three people under suspicion included only one Mafia, and yet Mafia won. It was a great tragedy. In the game of The Thing the things won. The things usually win, suggesting a game balance problem. There are several solutions being considered, but we haven't actually tried any yet.

Kelly Link is leaving tomorrow. She came up to the hall to say goodbye. We're all going to miss her.

Sunday the 17th is my birthday. I'll be 42. I had refrained from mentioning this until I saw how the group dealt with other birthdays, but they were sufficiently low-key that I'm prepared to fess up. The 17th is also my dad's birthday. He's going to drive up from Kalamazoo and we'll have a little celebration together. My wife's birthday is also coming up before Clarion is over, so we decided to do a joint birthday celebration after I'm home. So, I get multiple birthday celebrations this year.


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