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Rhetoretician -- Fiction etc.

Choosing First Clarion Story

Choosing First Clarion Story

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I hope to post periodic updates on my Clarion experience here, although not every day. What I'd most like to do is share the best writing advice that I hear from the instructors, and the insights that arise from the crit process.

I'll parallel-post on my other LJ, but anything that's friends-locked will be posted here.

I'll be arriving at La Jolla in nine days. blackholly, who's the Week One instructor, asked us to decide whether to use one of our submission stories for the Week One crit, or rather write a new one. This presented me with an opportunity. Of the two stories I submitted, one has had a lot of praise from editors, and there's one editor (you know who you are) who's been sitting on it for more than seven months, who says he might, might, just might publish it.

But the other story, which was singled out for praise by one of the Clarion judges (never mind how I know that), has been form-rejected from a handful of markets, and didn't even merit an Honorable Mention at WotF. That intrigues me -- Here's a story I know has merit, and which I also know has marked problems, but I don't know what they are. I can't imagine a better opportunity for a group-crit.

So I'm going into the Week One Crit genuinely hoping that my classmates will find flaws with my story -- and hoping especially that they'll all find the same flaws. Because then my job will be easy. :)

For some reason I'm fixating on the social aspect of Clarion, and worrying that I'll make an offensive nuisance of myself. Everyone says that the biggest benefit from these workshops is the strong community of loyal writer-friends you have when it's done, and I have repeated, unhappy fantasies of being so toxic that no one wants to know me when it's over. That's a very old fear of mine, and it's galling that it surfaces now, when I've got this once-in-a-lifetime, thrilling experience to anticipate. Grr.
  • Oh....pooh. you'll be fine! I was totally charmed by you when we met, so there!

    I'm just happy your stories are getting a reaction. Not getting a reaction (good or bad) is the kiss of death.

    You didn't mention this, but how is the reaction to this from your colleagues at work? Are they (secretly) jealous? :)
    • Thanks, Rachel. When you & I met, we had only an hour together and I was on my best behavior! ;)

      Colleagues are fine with it -- maybe a bit bemused. I don't think they're jealous, as none of their ambitions run in this direction.
  • Relax. You are a wonderful person, Ken. And this could be something to try EFT on, you know. Take a look at YouTube - if you search for EFT tapping you should get an austrailan guy who gives a very good explanation of the basic points. And then just roll along ... make yourself a setup phrase along the lines of "even though I worry I will make an offensive nuisance of myself, I deeply and completely love and accept myself anyway" or whatever you feel like working with, and repeat a reminder phrase like "offensive nuisance" while tapping. Most important imo to make this effective, is to tune in to the emotion attached and focus on that wile tapping. And to get an idea of how this helps, start with rating the amount of distress 0-10) before you start, then reevaluate after tapping. Maybe it only goes from an 8 to a 6, but that's still improvement!

    And really, please do listen - you are absolutely wonderful. Don't let this hold you bck any longer, ok? Good. *hugs you*
  • I am so excited for you!

    You will not "make an offensive nuisance" of yourself. The fact that you are at all worried about it is a strong indicator that it will not be a problem.

    I think part of what you will gain from this is a bit of perspective about those lying voices filling your mind with such nonsense!
  • Only nine days to go?!! You must be excited. Years from now you'll look back and see this as the point where your career as a writer really took off! Here's hoping.

    That's a very old fear of mine ...

    Well, it's an *old* fear ... it doesn't apply to the mature, world-wise, very friendly, Livejournal experienced, HP fandom hardened Ken any more. Cast that anachronistic fear on the ground and stomp on it! It has no power over you!
    • Thanks, Brad. Yes, very excited.

      And thanks for the vote of confidence. Even at this hardened, advanced age, I still turn into an arrogant, controlling sonofabitch when I'm under stress -- that's what I have to guard against.
  • Jo's Comment

    jo_blogs left an excellent comment which had to be deleted for technical reasons. I'm reprinting it here, because it's too good to leave out forever. ;)

    Hi Ken! I think voicing the anxiety is a really important thing to have done, so you can begin to disorganize it. If you're anything like me (i.e. hold yourself to ridiculous standards and don't deal at all well with stress), what's helpful isn't a pep talk, but an acknowledgment that yes, it's going to be hard - you're going to have to be on your 'best behaviour' probably for longer than is comfortable, at least to start with.

    Would it help to think really specifically about what you're going to do in advance, or even 'who' you're going to be? For example, if you know you can get controlling / argumentative / know-it-all / arrogant (delete as appropriate) in response to particular triggers, try and anticipate situations in which those triggers are likely to come up, so that you can decide in advance how you're going to behave. I find rehearsing is the one thing that really helps me in high-stress situations. I hardly ever do it, because I DO so love to sabotage myself, but when I do, it makes all the difference :)

    It strikes me that the Week One Crit looks like the perfect opportunity to practice 'serene and gracious Ken'. It's likely you will have had more experience than many of the group-crit members on dealing gracefully with criticism that hits just that particular raw nerve. I think some of those people should come out of your session saying, "Wow, I can really learn something from Ken about using feedback productively - I wouldn't mind talking to that guy a bit more."

    Also, if things do go wrong, which they *will* at some point, don't get into a defensive / paranoid state of mind - that'll just scupper you going in the next day, or session or whatever. You'll have people's email addresses, won't you? Chances are, a few weeks after the course is over, people won't remember the guy who got a bit sneery at dinner that one time - they're far more likely to remember the guy who wrote those interesting stories and knew such a lot about technique, and was so great at giving feedback.

    So, I don't quite know what all that was - maybe just a couple of basic tricks that might possibly be helpful - but feel free to completely ignore and just have lots of well-wishing and positive thoughts from me!

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