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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Under the Needle's Eye

Last summer marked 10 years since the six most insane and writing-intensive weeks of my life, my sojourn at Clarion West. Our class was remarkably diverse, prolific, and successful (10 years out, every single cw2k1'er has been professionally published -- an unusual statistic, I'm told); our instructors were amazing; Aviva was, to my knowledge, the first baby to attend a major science fiction workshop for two weeks; and it was a huge amount of fun.

Our class also had an unusual degree of solidarity. Before we even arrived, Nalo Hopkinson scared the hell out of us with an eloquent letter on the phenomenon of stress-driven dissension, partisanship, and scapegoating at writing workshops, and we vowed in email that we'd hang together -- "no goats". That may seem a little overheated and romantic, a little high school, but that was appropriate to the occasion -- six weeks of little sleep, constant composition, constant reading, tearing each others' stories apart, and, maybe most of all, putting your (generally long-held) dreams to the test is a hell of a thing, a situation in which a certain degree of hysteria is reasonable. In any event, the vow worked; to our immense pride, we made it through the workshop with our solidarity tried but unbroken, and we are pretty much all still in touch (and in touch with some of our instructors).

To mark the occasion of our 10th anniversary -- okay, our tenth-and-a-bit-more-than-a-half anniversary -- the indefagitable, funny, and wise Emily Mah Tippets (who has been tearing up the YA romance charts on Amazon) organized a e-anthology featuring stories by 11 of us, including yours truly. It's a Kindle book (which, you know, you can read without a kindle), & for the next couple of days, it's free.

And yes, as the quote on the class t-shirt indicates, I did at one point -- pulling rank in critiquing a story, no doubt -- have to out myself as a former party clown, and describe the three(?) weeks of purgatory I spent twisting up balloon animals, getting punched in the stomach by 8-year-olds in pizza joints, and racing lost on the tangled highways of Silicon Valley while dressed as Big Bird, Batman, or Leonardo the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, for Most Unique, premiere providers of party clowns in Boulder Creek, CA.

Posted by benrosen at May 3, 2012 11:54 AM | Up to blog

To be precise, you were critiquing my first Clarion story ("Bird of Paradise" - later published in Talebones), and I believe you were speaking to the point - how many birds could realistically be shoved into a person's jacket. Your experience as a party clown allowed you to definitely answer - 'a lot.'

Posted by: Ari Goelman at May 3, 2012 08:38 PM

That makes sense! I was often smuggling any number of quiescent-because-oxygen-deprived doves into the houses of three-year-olds, hoping they wouldn't asphyxiate before I could get to that part of the show (because wouldn't that put a damper on things?) in my capacity as a party clown...

Posted by: Benjamin Rosenbaum at May 4, 2012 11:55 AM
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