Archive for the ‘Dear Diary’ Category
A year with a smartphone camera [part 2]
A year with a smartphone camera [part 1]
I get a little sick of hearing myself say how much life has changed. I swear I’ve said it like three times in the last two years. I mean, okay, it’s true, but then again it’s probably true for everyone. Maybe it’s more that we all learn new things and then move on to new things.
My birthday’s in a few days, which brings to mind last year’s birthday. Everything had changed then too. I started my huge journey around the world and everything was different, stuff with Jai, my life in Eugene, everything. I’d thought I had a path, and I did, maybe with some bad information and some bad choices, but with a lot of possibilities and dreams.
There was awesome stuff on the trip. In the last year I discovered I love Istanbul and London and Edinburgh and Paris. I learned a lot about myself and what I want from life.
And sure, it was confusing and hard at times. Part of me wants to say it was a distraction from the important things, but I don’t think I could have gotten here if I hadn’t done it all.
On my birthday last year, I had specific ideas about my money-making life, my love life, ideas of living in another country. It was a possible path, none of it turned out the way I thought it would. Some of it sucked, but whatever, it was kinda perfect.
I went through a painful transition a couple days ago. It’s not worth going into, but there are a couple of points worth remarking on: One is that I’d been through nearly this exact same … well, drama a bunch of times. Every time it had torn me up for weeks, sometimes months.
This time I was down for a day or two, but have mostly moved on. The other thing I realized is that — and this sounds like a cliche — I’d been living in a fantasy, waiting for potential and possibility and ignoring what was in front of me. I’ll take clarity any day.
Anyway, yeah, not exactly fun stuff, but it’s weird, I expected to feel more depressed, and for longer …
… but I don’t. I think getting out of a bad situation, and realizing that whatever happens in the next year, (or five, or ten) largely depends on me and my decisions … it sorta forces me to realize that all I really need to do is pay attention and keep at it.
Anyway, I’m excited about this birthday, and cautiously excited about this new stage of my life. I’m sure I still have stuff to work out, emotions to feel, but I come into this birthday feeling unencumbered and hopeful.
Anyway, thanks for reading. If you have a second, wish me a happy birthday!
What did I learn from Clarion?
The Clarion Writing Workshop was one of the most powerful experiences I’ve had. A lot of it was explicitly positive, some of it was positive eventually (or may still be gestating) but was really hard at the time or for the months … *ahem* years … after.
Both the Clarion Writers workshops http://clarion.ucsd.edu/ and http://www.clarionwest.org/ are now taking applications. One of my instructors, Jim Kelly asks, “How about sharing five things you learned at Clarion?”
- There’s a fine line between pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and pushing yourself to write stuff that doesn’t excite you.
- Great writing has energy. Sure, get the mechanics down, but in the end it’s theme and emotion that drive the most powerful stories.
- Always be innovating. Every story start is sexy and fun and full of new relationship energy, full of riffing and whatever clever thing comes out of the id, but then the plotting and rewriting can feel like a drudge. That’s the time to bring the innovative mindset to finding connections and problem-solving. We can choose to be clever in every part of the writing process.
- Put as much work into your life as your writing. Yes, most of us need to lock ourselves away to learn the craft and find our voice, but it’s equally important to learn how to present and interact with each other. Skillful social awareness can help our career just as much as excellent prose.
- Writing is not a competition. Someone else’s genius doesn’t make you less genius. We analyze each other’s fiction so we see what works and doesn’t, both to point out to others and for ourselves. When this turns into a wash of negativity, we’re not helping anyone. The more we support each other as writer’s the stronger we all become.
If you write and you want to see what you are capable of, Clarion is well worth the time and money.