Philip Brewer's Writing Progress


Tuesday, 10 July 2001

I turned in my story this morning. It was one of only two, so we all had a light day preparing for tomorrow (except for people who are trying to finish stories for tomorrow or Thursday).

With my last story written and turned in, I find that I'm already starting to think of Clarion in the past tense. I'm evaluating it, trying to decide how it has affected me. I may have new thoughts on the matter after I take more time to think about it (or I may have some epiphany in the last three days). But here's what I'm thinking now.

First of all, Clarion was not a "life-changing" time for me. And that's a good thing, because I thought my life was great when I came here and I still do.

Clarion was certainly a writing-changing event. The stuff I learned the first week took my writing to a new level. The stuff I learned the second week took my writing to a new level again. The stuff I learned the third week will take my writing to a new level, once I manage to put it all together and start getting it down on paper. I don't know yet how much the stuff from the fourth, fifth, and sixth weeks will affect my writing, but it doesn't really matter (except perhaps from the points of view of week-four-through-six instructors). My writing skills and my critiquing skills are both immeasurably better than they were six weeks ago.

I also learned a lot about what it would mean to make fiction the number one priority in my life. In particular, I learned that it isn't a good idea. For me, at any rate, I'm pretty sure that fiction will work much better as a number two or number three or number four priority in my life. It needs to be a high enough priority that I can devote some time to it nearly every day, but I've been pretty thoroughly disabused of the notion that, "Oh, I could do so much more, if only I could focus entirely on my fiction!" It's just not true. I can do a lot in four or five weeks if I focus entirely on my fiction, but the other stuff in my life is not only more important, it also contributes to my fiction.

I think that second point will be the most important. I have wasted a lot of energy over the last few years wishing I could write full time. Now I know better.

It's odd to think about my life post-Clarion. In October last year I decided that I was going to apply to Clarion. From that point on I had to take Clarion into account in all my plans. I had to make sure that I'd have six weeks in the summer free so that I could come. I had to make sure that I'd have enough money to attend. I made a point of writing regularly, for several months before I applied (having decided not to apply if I wasn't writing regularly) and for the time between my application and my acceptance (having decided not to accept if I wasn't writing regularly). I've spent nine months organizing my life around being able to go to Clarion and get the maximum benefit from it. It's going to be an adjustment to go back to organizing my life around other things.

It was interesting to write sf poetry. Subversively interesting.

I think I mentioned here that I don't write much poetry, and that's almost true. But there is one big exception. For several years now, my brother and I have been writing haiku in Esperanto under the name D-ro Istvan Bierfaristo. That link takes you to a page with a bit of information (in Esperanto) about Istvan and his work, with links at the bottom to some of the haiku.

Istvan writes zne-hajkoj (hajko is the Esperanto word for haiku and the -j ending makes it plural). It remains unclear why he uses that term. It could be that Istvan is dyslexic. Maybe it's some kind of joke.

Here's a zne-hajko composed just for my journal readers:

Mokas senmortan tekston.
Parolu manon.

In English it might be:

Family circle
Mocks a deathless text.
Talk to the hand.

That's not a perfect translation, mostly because although rondfamilio literally means "family circle," it means much more than that to an Esperantist. Zamenhof, the inventor of Esperanto, used the term to refer to the community of Esperantists. By extension it can mean any community of like-minded people who come together with a common purpose. Esperantists are also likely to assume that the text in question is some important work of Esperanto literature. For Esperanto-speaking Clarion alums, that haiku is packed with meaning. It's also pretty zne. I suppose you'll have to trust me on that.

Mary Turzillo gave everyone a keychain fan. Great for the hot weather. It also means that we now each have at least one fan.


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