Philip Brewer's Writing Progress


Wednesday, 11 July 2001

The critique of my story went well. Nearly everybody got what I was trying to do. The most common confusion can be easily fixed (probably only take one word). So, I'm very pleased. It's a great way to close out the workshop for me.

I'm writing my journal while I ought to be reading stories for tomorrow. But I'll get the stories done, too.

I've gotten my critiques done on time every day for the whole workshop. That was a little goal I set for myself, so I'm glad I've done it. (Not that other people didn't--we've had no problem with that.)

We had a very cool party on the balcony this evening. Ty and Nnedi are leaving tomorrow, so they won't be here for the regular Clarion party, so we had a special early party just for them. People drank (but not to excess), we talked, people took pictures. Also, we sang songs. Corie played a couple tunes on Al's guitar. Then Al played a bunch more. Six or eight of us sang along with the ones we knew.

Since Al knew the Eagles's "Hotel California," I ran back to my room and printed out J. Simon's lyrics to Owen Cafeteria, which we all sang with great hilarity.

Time is accelerating.

The first few days here, time seemed to have slowed down. It wasn't that we were bored. It was that so much was happening so fast that we couldn't imagine them all having happened in just one or two or three days.

Things are happening slower now. We've only had two stories to critique each day this week, down from four (or more!) nearly every day the first three weeks. Most days now there's no "lecture" portion to the class. Until yesterday I was working hard to get my last story done, and that contributed to making previous few days just zip by while I wasn't looking--I was too busy to look.

I've looked back at a few of my journal entries now and then. I think sometime pretty soon after I get back I'm going to read them all. Relive Clarion. It's been wonderful.

Someone wrote "Your story rocks!" on my whiteboard last night. That was comforting. It was good to go to bed knowing that I had at least one reasonably positive critique to look forward to the next day. Not that I've had bad critiques--most people seem to like my stories okay. But it's easy to start obsessing about stories. "Will anybody get it? Was it too subtle? Too obvious? Did the characters show any emotion? I wrote another story about a sociopath! Why did I do that? I need to write stories about people who show their emotions, not people who don't understand emotions at all!" I could go on, but you get the point.

It's worth knowing grammar. I never really learned any grammar until 8th grade. I knew how to speak correctly, because my parents spoke normative English, but I didn't know things like the parts of speech or the parts of a sentence. Unfortunately, that 8th grade class ended up being pretty wimpy. We learned parts of speech okay, but it ended there--not much on things like clauses or sentences.

Since I speak correctly, I'm usually able to write correctly. Somewhere along the line I managed to grasp what a sentence was and I rarely write a sentence fragment unless I mean to. But I still feel the lack from not really understanding dependant and independant clauses and stuff like that. ("Stuff like that" meaning I don't even know what I don't know.)

I got out for a run today. (I had gotten in one other run in the past few days which I'm pretty sure didn't get into the journal.) I'm not running enough to make any progress, but I seem to have stabilized at not-quite-pathetic. That's good enough to see me home where I can resume my old schedule (I hope) with running and lifting in the early morning.

Oh, and I did trim my beard down to a goatee. It looks okay, rather better than I'd expected. I don't expect to keep it, because a goatee entails all the work of being clean-shaven plus all the work of having a beard. But, we'll see. Jackie gets a vote, and she hasn't seen it yet.

Basically, though, I grew a beard in the first place because I was too lazy to shave every day. That was okay for a while, when I was 18 or 19. But pretty quickly I got to the point where it wasn't good enough to shave every three or four days. You know how there are some people who look "rugged" if they don't shave for a day or two? Well, I'm not one of them. If I don't shave for a day or two, I look "unshaven." So, back when I was in college I grew a beard. I shaved it off in 1982 or so, because I'd forgotten what my face looked like. I decided I liked the beard better, so it has been very nearly twenty years since I shaved. I'm a little surprised I still remember how.


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