Last week was Robert Crais's week with us, and his enthusiasm and energy bled over from class time to "fun time." He hosted us to a lovely feast on Friday night. Then, on Saturday night after Kim Stanley Robinson arrived (they're old pals from Clarion '75), we were again hosted to dinner. And as we all stood outside that evening, drinking and eating pizza and talking and resting from the long week, no one noticed Bob was gone. Until he came around the corner with a super-soaker water gun. You have never seen people scatter so damn fast in your life. The war was ON!
We all booked it back to our apts to get guns (if we had them) and fill balloons. The battle took place all around our apt block; we hid behind and on top of stairwells, in doorways, around corners. Those without guns or balloons found cups, pots & pans, even garbage cans (!) and joined the fun. No one was really spared, even those who claimed to be noncombatants. It felt so great to run around and laugh and scream for an hour.
Bob left on Sunday, and now we're two days into KSR's week. He's changed some things, which is cool. Crits are condensed so that we have class time for lecture/discussion. Yesterday was about pacing; the differences between summarization and dramatization and the history of both, including the ways they've been quantified; how controlling pace means becoming master of space & time.
He also gave us a list of stories as experiments in form: unreliable narrator, camera-eye pov, present tense, 1st person pov--especially from opposite gender, velocity exercise (flash pieces), long sentences/short sentences (vary your style), sketches, formal experiments (a story in the form of an index, movie review, FAQs, etc.), a pastiche or a parody, and realism. He expressed his wish that we all try to write at least one of each, to experiment with new forms, to PLAY.
And that was the most important thing I took from yesterday--the reminder that this is supposed to be FUN. I mean, for me it's business and serious, but that doesn't mean that I have to take myself so damn seriously. It was good to hear this from him, and it helped me let go a little and finish the story that will be hotseated tomorrow.
Then last night we had a discussion evening. He went around the room and asked everyone their favorite authors, and then we discussed the business of writing: how to think of ourselves as "brands" and whether or not to blog (he thinks not ... the jury's still out on that one).
Today's lecture was about fantasy. KSR is a sci-fi author, and a "realist" and rather conservative (not politically but literarily) one at that. Fantasy is not his thing. But he had a really interesting point--one I shall keep in mind as I continue here and after I leave. That those of us who write fantasy need to really think about the genre and consider what it is doing for us--to be sure that we are using it to tell a truth. The class got a bit heated, but I sat back and listened. Being pretty new to the genre and very unfamiliar with many authors/books my classmates mention, it was best for me to listen to what they all had to say. I've had years of discussing lit theory--of discussing books and authors in the abstract--and I was afraid that if I joined in the conversation I'd be doing so from a theory/analysis pov rather from the practical pov of someone with experience in the genre. So I pretty much stayed out of it and just absorbed what was going on.
And tonight was the KSR signing at Mysterious Galaxy. And it's now 10:30 and I have to go finish reading and critting for tomorrow. Wish me luck!
This past weekend a lot of things came to a head. Not just for me, but, I have to think, for many of us. Long days of writing, stressing about writing (or not writing), reading, critting, and class with little sleep, so-so food, and being with each other 24/7 takes its toll.