Slithytove at Clarion (st_at_clarion) wrote,
Slithytove at Clarion

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Clarion, Day 40: In which my critting abilities crash and burn

Keats, dying of tuberculosis in Rome, spoke of his 'posthumous existence'. I'm having the same feeling about Clarion. 2 days to go. Actually, I've been feeling this way since Tuesday, 7/13. And I've been starting to preemptively miss my fellow Clarionites for the past week and a half. We critted a story this morning that Kelly Link suggested was an end-of-Clarion story: it was about separation and loss.

I turned in my seventh and final Clarion story, "Lives of the Saints," Monday and it got critted Tuesday. People either liked it until page 13 or until page 20. The Taoist assassin chick picking up the hero in a AH-1W Super Cobra just broke the suspension of disbelief for many. Either that or the talky philosophical discussion at the end. Jeff didn't like the non-standard narrative technique, Kelly liked it and wanted to see more of it. Universal agreement, including me, that the story needs major revisions/rethinking.

This morning I had a bit of a shock that I'm not over yet. We critted a story that I thought had interesting ideas, but significant story-telling problems. Most of the rest of class agreed. Jeff and Kelly absolutely loved it. Kelly suggested SCIFICTION, that it was the kind of thing Ellen Datlow is looking for.

This is a real problem for me, in that it challenges my idea that I know what is successful fiction. Even if the would-be writer can't write as well as he'd like, he *has* to be able to distinguish what fiction is successful and saleable from what isn't, if he is ever to improve his own writing. How do you know what to write if you can't tell good from bad? Up until this point, I thought I had a fairly good idea of *what* worked and what didn't, what an editor would buy and what they probably wouldn't, even I didn't understand fully *how* it worked, how a story achieved its effects. After that story this morning, I'm no longer sure I can even tell good from bad fiction. This is very distressing.

I'm still worried about this.

Also hungry. More after lunch.
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