Philip Brewer's Writing Progress


Tuesday, 03 July 2001

My sweety is home!

Since I was going to be away anyway, Jackie's mom invited her on a "food and art" tour of France. So I've mostly just heard from her by postcard for the past two weeks (no doubt explaining some of the angst that's crept into the journal). It didn't seem wise to mention it on the journal (too much like posting a "this apartment empty, please rob" note). But, now she's back and has the cat and the slavering attack beast home from the vet.

I can't begin to express how happy I am to have my sweety back home, or how much I'm looking forward to being home with her again. (Your line here is, "And you call yourself a writer?")

My story "An Education of Scars" was workshopped today. It went okay. I had made the mistake of mentioning to people that Jim had suggested that my next story should be a love story. I think that colored the way people viewed the story. But several people got exactly what I was trying to do, so I know that I didn't miss by a whole lot. However, lots of people didn't get it, and the story needs to be able to make them get it, even after they've been misdirected. Part of the problem was that I didn't understand what was happening early enough in the writing. There are some cues very early on that were placed by my subconscious, but now that I understand what's going on, I can improve on them.

They also pointed out that my story gets off to a very slow start. I'm not quite sure how to fix that. The easiest fix would be to do the in medias res thing and begin with the revelation of the major story problem. I could probably intercut between the part of the story that leads up to climax and the part that leads up to the existence of the story problem. I'll have to give it some thought.

I had my conference with Geoff and Mary today. Several of the earlier instructors started the conference asking what I wanted to learn. But, I wasn't sure what I was trying to learn next. I had come to Clarion with a specific set of things that I wanted to learn about plot. I pretty much learned them the first week with Steven Barnes. Of course I have lots more things I need to learn, but I hadn't thought of what they were. So I had not gotten as much out some of my previous conferences as I might have.

(Note to Steve, Kelly, Jim, and Pat: The conference I had with you was great--I got just what I wanted and just what I needed out of it.)

Anyway, I had finally gotten organized enough to have an idea what I wanted to talk about. But with Geoff and Mary there was no need. We went for a walk along the river and talked about my writing in general and my Clarion stories in particular. (They had read both of the submission stories and the three stories I had written earlier, as well as the story workshopped today.) We talked about where I'm submitting my stories, how the stories they'd seen might fit at different markets, and general things I ought to think about for different markets. They talked about improvements they'd seen in my stories over the course of the workshop, and about what I ought to work on next. It was great.

We also talked about what I'd decided I wanted to talk about. Jim had suggested two things (among others): that we write a new story for each Clarion story that we revised, and that we do our revisions of Clarion stories in order of marketability. I had ranked the Clarion stories in the order that I might work on them and wanted to get their input on that. They gave me some useful suggestions.

So, that was great. And now I have the beginnings of a plan for post-Clarion writing.

A couple weeks ago I had provided a link to the "MSU Today" page, saying that there were supposed to be pictures of us there. Later I looked and didn't see any, but it turns out that they did run something eventually. On this page, the third article down titled "Think like a dinosaur" has a picture of James Patrick Kelly, and also shows the back of Amy's head and the back of my head. (You can see just how thin my hair is getting back there.)

I've been working on my alien invasion sestina. Progress is slow. However, I must admit that I'm enjoying working with the sestina form.

Today was laundry day, hence the long journal entry.

I stayed up too late working on the t-shirt, then slept poorly worrying about the t-shirt, then got up too early to work on my critiques. I think I'll get to bed early this evening. With any luck at all we'll be able to deliver final art for the t-shirts today, so at least I'll be able to quit worrying about them.

As promised, here are the: runners-up t-shirt quotes.


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