Slithytove at Clarion (st_at_clarion) wrote,
Slithytove at Clarion
st_at_clarion

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Clarion, Day 42: Conference with Jeffrey Ford

This is a catch-up post.

Had my conferences with Jeffrey Ford and Kelly Link on Monday. Jeff's basic advice was to keep writing. He believes that at this point, I need more writing time, not workshops. He has limited patience for non-standard narration: "Cut the narrative tricks, just tell the story." In fact, that's been one of his watchwords in the workshop in general. His going-away gift was a wooden paddle, signed by all of us, with the motto on the back, "Just tell me a damned story."

He thought that if I kept developing as a writer, I should be expect to be published professionally within a year or so.

Other advice: "The writer should write as the reader reads: from point A to point B. The writer should *discover* the story in the same way the reader discovers it." He doesn't like titles that are literary/philosophical name-dropping (case in point, the title of one of my Clarion-written stories, "Tabula Rasa.") He says the title should not give anything away.

He had a number of suggestions for changes in the stories of mine he had read, and suggestions for markets, including Polyphony, Argosy, Leviathan (a roughly biennial anthology), Third Alternative, and the Say... series.

Jeff Ford's recommended reading (for me):
Aristotle's Poetics
John Gardner's The Art of Fiction
Steven Millhauser's short fiction.
Raymond Carver, especially "The Knife Thrower."

Because I asked him specifically for any tips about character development, he recommended these authors:
Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle, for character development
Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars books
Laurie Colwin's Goodbye Without Leaving
Stephen Bury (pseudonym of Neal Stephenson), The Cobweb
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  • 2 comments
I think you have gotten a little boggled there "The Knife Thrower" is a short story (and a collection) by Steven Millhauser - and it's a lovely one.
You're right. The two authors and their works were scribbled together in the margin on the notes I took as Jeff talked, and I had scrambled them up.