Clarion South – remainder of week 1

Well, I find myself on a Friday afternoon having finished my weekly workload – my critiques are done (including the Monday stories), and I have completed my first story, The Cutting Room. At 3400 words, I’m impressed by the length as I expected the idea to sputter out at 2000 words max. So writing a reasonable size draft was quite encouraging. I hope to start my next story tonight, probably The Garden Shed Pact, and perhaps start on Beyond The Black Door tomorrow (free day!).

The last three days have been a bit of a blur, but fortunately I’ve also settled into a reasonable routine. I’m staying up later and consequently rising later, but I seem to be more productive. Perhaps the first couple of days were just settling in pains.

The critique sessions have been uniformly interesting, with at least one big joke or controversy playing out with each story. While details are hazy now, I would pick Ellen’s (Klages, not the upcoming Datlow) enchanting librarian fairytale as one of the standouts. I also enjoyed Nike’s fairytale mediaeval robot/period piece. Aside from those, there were several others which I thought had great potential or components.

I’m almost ashamed to say I was particular savage on one or two of the stories. In fact, I seemed to be in a distinct minority on one story, but there seems to be one overwhelming thing I’ve noticed that came from this moment – I seem to be the only dedicated dark fiction/horror writer. Yes, I know others have written such stuff, but it is my forte – my direction. I have a genuine interest in the field, whereas most others seem dabblers. When I mention the Horror Writers Association, or the Stokers, or magazines (like Cemetery Dance, or even Shadowed Realms), people tend to kinda glaze over a bit.

On the social front, I will be heading out tonight (along with the rest of the group) to a Thai restaurant for Nathan’s thirty-something birthday. He’s been dubbed Mr. Logic (who is the superhero opponent of The Tenderiser, aka Thor, aka Rjurik) because of his perceptive critiquing and ability to spot logic and plot flaws. I also mention Rjurik because he has a tendency to bring a large meat tenderiser into the critique room because it vaguely resembles Thor’s hammer. I think it’s a viking thing…

I’ve considered bringing along a Chanbara sword to the next critique. Guess it depends if any more sessions go like they did today. Speaking of which, The Cutting Room has been distributed and will be up on Monday when Michael Swanwick holds court. I’m absolutely fascinated because it has some rather adult scenes which will push the boundaries further than any story before it (although we have had fish-sex, or umm mer-sex, and sex-with-a-chick-squirting-milk). I’m also interested to see the reaction of others, because I believe it has a decent polish for a 1st draft. I’m also interested to see if I get any ‘counter’ critiques because of a few harsh ones I’ve put up this week. I don’t expect it, but remain guarded nonetheless. It’s all been fairly rosey so far.

My floor, as a whole, has bonded well enough so far. We all have our quiet, lock ourselves in our rooms moments, but mealtimes provide good social time. Kenrick seems to be slowly acclimatising, although I think he’s battling more jetlag and culture shock than anyone else. Oh, and hello to Mrs. Yoshida and the Yoshida clan, who apparently has used my blog (and others) to earbash Ken about his lack of routine. Good stuff! The boy needs some discipline!

Last night we hosted a three-floor, three stage meal for Sean Williams. Top floor fed him, we shovelled dessert into him (fruit salad prepared by Lily, which kinda went very wrong, but was later redeemed, and icecream). We also joked around, discussed nude calendars and karaoke (especially when a particularly tipsy Nike returned from a dinner out there in the real world). The bottom floor funnelled Sean with alcohol, which I’m sure was funny to watch.

One final thought, and this is a severe frustration – comma use in some of the stories is starting to majorly bug me. While I’m not a grammar nazi, I am particularly pulled out of a story if it has inadequate punctuation or pedestrian language. Again, I seem to be in the minority on this, but it’s something I simply cannot shake. Tomorrow, when I or we go into the city, I will buy a grammar guide and nut out one particular issue that I thought I was correct on, but others strongly disagreed. Every reference I’ve found on this on the internet (US and Australian sites, including universities) seems to support my belief, but don’t go into detail. Either way, I must find closure to gain peace of mind!

I’m missing my family more and more as the days progress, but fortunately Ange is keeping contact by MSN messenger (despite the dodgy connection). This eases the heartache but tends to keep me up very late. Oh well, it’s been incorporated into the routine now.

Tomorrow we say farewell to Sean, who’s been an affable tutor and approachable guy, even if he does forget I’m from WA. I believe we see him out with a movie night of some description. Okay, back to writing… and that Thai food tonight.