On diving well and failing to swim

So Chris Lynch has posted a more-or-less up-to-date bibliography of things achieved by our Clarion South class since the 2007 workshop. He’s put this together, along with some thoughts, because the two of us are scheduled to go have a chat with the current crop of Clarion South participants about what it’s like to finish the workshop and go back to the real world. I have to admit that my first response to Chris’s bibliography was a panicked that can’t be right, but it is. The only thing he’s missed is the 100 word story I had in Brimstone Press’s Black Box e-anthology, although I start to feel a little better when I factor in the three forthcoming stories that don’t appear on Chris’s summary. Even taking into account the kind of low-key achievements that occurred around the publications, it seems like so little for two years of work once it’s listed like that, and its started me thinking about the difference between 2007 and 2008.

2007 was a year that’s been very good to me. It kicked off with Clarion, followed up with nearly twelve months of work-ethic and productivity, then ended strong with the Gauntlet run of crazy rewriting and submission with Jason Fisher (and others, but Jasoni remains my coach on the Gauntlet front) that saw both of us pick up our game and focus on what needed doing. At Clarion we spent a lot of time talking about the possibility of Clarion Burnout with various tutors, and I spent a lot of time making sure that I wasn’t going to let the real-life difficulties get in the way of capitalizing on the opportunities Clarion brought about.

2008 actually looks like a good year for writing on paper, but I suspect that a lot of that comes down to the carry-on effect of 2007. To borrow a metaphor, think of it like diving off a springboard at the beginning of swim – 2007 was a good dive, so I didn’t actually have to paddle that hard in 2008 to get to the other side. There were some good flurries of movement in there (Horn drafted and submitted, PhD creative project finished, stories sold in 2007 hitting publication) but overall I just kind of dog-paddled around and didn’t achieve much. 2007 was were all the work happened, but by 2008 the work-ethic was shot and I allowed myself to prioritize other things over writing. If 2007 was a year where I fought against the possibility of Clarion Burnout, I’d suggest that 2008 is the year that it snuck up behind me and stole my wallet.

Thus far, 2009 is feeling like the year I’ve given up on work-ethic altogether. That worries me. I’ve been fumbling towards the realisation for a few weeks now, but I think it’s finally sunk in that the little voice in the back of my skull that says “you suck, do more” has stopped being self-doubt or a goad to action and started being an actual instruction. Time to fix that, I think.

Today I write 2,500 words. I don’t sleep until that’s done. Lets have at it.

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