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Sleepless somewhere other than Seattle

June 27, 2010

As my long-time blog followers know, I just just barely missed Clarion West last year — I was an alternate but never called to replace anyone.  I followed the progress of the workshop and friends like Jordan Lapp and Rochita Loenen-Ruiz very closely, wishing I was there with them, writing my heart out.  Wishing, but not writing.  I didn’t produce any new writing last summer.  It hurt too much to even think about it, knowing how very close I came to CW and falling short.

This year, again as people know, I fell shorter, not even making the waiting list.  There are a variety of factors that could have led to this (including my inability to count), but I’m home again.  At least I’m writing this time.  While I didn’t get many bankable words typed during my camping trip, I got my novel back on the rails.  Once again I have a chance to finish a draft before school starts.

I am still bummed about not being at CW.  I do suspect I’d be miserable there by the second or third week, missing my daughter.  Six weeks is so long.  So maybe I’m better off here.  That helps.  It also helps knowing that the story that didn’t get me in to CW got me into the WotF workshop (and the anthology).  It helps a little more knowing the story that got me waitlisted last year may have finally found a home (shortlisted for an anthology).  Nothing helps with rejection like success.

I’m happy for Tracie and Sandra and the others at CW.  I hope they learn a ton.  Same goes for the folks at Clarion – San Diego.  I’m still pretty convinced I will not be applying to either workshop next year.  It’s been a real hardship on my family just speculating how we would handle my absence and it would be too much for next summer.  Besides, I hope to get my career on track by this time next year (with an agent for my first novel, a solid draft for my second, three or four more short story sales, stuff like that).  I’m not expecting to be too good for the Clarion workshops, just have enough momentum that I won’t need them as a launching pad.

I’ve said all this before.  This post is probably more for my own catharsis than anything else.  (Hey, I looked it up and used that word right!)  I know there are kindred spirits out there, wishing they were among peers under the tutelage of pros.  I say to those spirits, don’t waste this time.  Write.  Write crap if you have to (we all do sometimes), but write something.  You don’t have to do the Clarion model’s story a week — who has time for that in the real world? — but get words on paper.  It is my biggest regret from last year, that I had nothing to show for that time.

I may not have time to write today (I have a lot of church obligations) but it is on my mind.  It will happen tomorrow and throughout the week.  And the next.  I haven’t updated my novel status bar in a while because I’m in an add-and-subtract place where any count would be false.  I hope to be past that and get it updated in a few days.  I bet the novel surpasses the 50,000 word mark.  That’s not bad as long as I don’t crest 80,000; that would likely be too much for a YA book.  I am excited about writing (not always the case, as you writers know).  It feels good.  The only way to get from those low points (like I was in last year at this time) to these excited points is to write your way there.  So get writing.  After all, that’s what makes you a writer.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. June 27, 2010 12:33 pm

    I’m glad you’re exciting, Oso 🙂 Good luck with the novel and may you have a productive and fulfilling summer!


    • June 27, 2010 12:36 pm

      Err… excited, not exciting. Well, you might exciting also 🙂 Man I shouldn’t post comments before breakfast. Sigh.

  2. TLawson permalink
    June 27, 2010 3:18 pm

    Hey Scott, good blog. You’ve convinced me to spend the rest of my free time today writing. One question, when you said 80,000 words would be too much for a YA book, what did you mean by YA? Thanks again.

    • osomuerte permalink
      June 27, 2010 3:33 pm

      @Tuch- Good question, I should have clarified. YA is Young Adult. 80,000 words probably isn’t technically too long for a YA book, but it would likely make a tough sell as a first book, especially YA. There are always exceptions (look at the later Potter books), but YA tends to sell on the shorter side.

      • TLawson permalink
        June 27, 2010 5:08 pm

        haha yes I guessed Young Adult as soon as I finished asking my question. In regards to the Potter books, I guess once Rowling got her foot in the door she pretty much had free reign to make the books as long as she’d like. It was really fascinating to watch how much her writing actually improved over the course of those books. They were all inundated with her amazing imagination and she’s always been a great story-teller, but between book 1 and book 7 she became a far, far better writer.

  3. July 4, 2010 12:04 am

    Hey, you should know that I’m writing crap right now, at Clarion West. And then other people are going to shred it. Mortifying. Wish you were here, but I think you are moving beyond. Congrats on your recent successes!

    • osomuerte permalink
      July 4, 2010 2:16 pm

      Tracie, if everything you wrote at CW was brilliant, you would never get your money’s worth out of the critiques. It would be like going to the doctor only when you’re healthy. Let the crap flow. (Too graphic?)

      With luck you’ll figure out what leads you to write crap (which we all do for different reasons and in different ways) and what you do well even when you’re crapping. (Again, too much?)

      I’m proud of you. I’d like to see one of your CW stories. Grinding something out in a week is sure to be raw. We don’t often share one-week works. I bet its something to behold.

      • July 5, 2010 6:55 pm

        Oh, this stuff produced under pressure is something to behold, that’s for sure. The “crap flow” is completely appropriate; folks here routinely make colorful remarks including “this manuscript I turned in is complete diarrhea” and so on.

        You’re spot on, of course. Michael Bishop, week one instructor, told us he expected to read many “shitty first drafts,” and he did. We learned a lot from that, and a standard term now is CSFD, as in “this is another Clarion Shitty First Draft.”

        I would be happy to share a few bits when I finish up here.

  4. osomuerte permalink
    July 5, 2010 7:11 pm

    @Tracie- I’m working on a NCSFD of my novel. I find myself bored to tears with the part I’m writing. I’m about to go put in a transition paragraph and jump elsewhere.

    Anyway, the SFD is not a localized Clarion event.


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