Category Archives: Clarion

Clarion Write-a-Thon Post Mortem

Rage Over Babylon by Ziv QualThe Clarion Write-a-Thon ended a week ago, and I meant to post a post mortem (heh) during that time, but my brain was frankly pooped after the six-week endurance run to finish the Tower novel. That meant hardly doing anything productive last week because, well, I just wasn’t physically or mentally capable of doing so. But now I’ve had a bit of a rest, so here you go.

For Week 6, I wanted to continue the trend of writing every other day rather than every day, but I knew that I’d need a fourth day in there to finish with the word count that I needed to put me at or over my overall goal of 30K. I wrote on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and then Friday; the Thursday numbers were low (to be expected, plus I didn’t want to stress myself too much), but I brought everything home during a marathon run on Friday while writing at studioKALEIDO (many thanks to Amanda and Winnie for giving me the space) and got to type THE END.

And then I took a long and freakishly satisfying shit. I mention this not as prurient scatology, but as a comment on the physical reaction that came with finally completing a work of 120,000 words, a work that had taken me six and a half years to finish. My body was able to literally unclench with the relief of wrapping up such a momentous event. I knew that I’d need to fix some things in revision, and I wasn’t satisfied with the ending I’d written, but it was there, out of my head and on the page.

On Saturday, to my surprise, I opened the very last chapter once again, and within 20 minutes or so, tweaked it enough so that what I’d earlier thought unsatisfying became a supremely meaningful and resonant ending, so much better than what I’d initially written the day before. But to tell the truth, I couldn’t have revised those resonant words without what I’d typed in my exhaustion the day before. Which is why the most important piece of writing advice I have ever learned is to FINISH WHAT YOU START.

So my final Write-a-Thon total is 30,834 words in six weeks. I accomplished my dual goals for the ‘thon and for finishing the book. I now have a completed novel that, in the coming months, I will go over at least twice more before sending out to agents. I’m damn proud of what I’ve done with it, and I’ll be even prouder once all the little niggling loose ends have been tied up.

But even better, all of the money that was donated or pledged in my name will now go to The Clarion Foundation, which comes to a total of $1,213.00. I’ll be sending out an email soon to all of the generous people who sponsored me, and will be getting their prizes ready.

This was an incredible experience and I learned a lot about myself in the process. I wouldn’t have been able to do it if I was working full-time right now, so I’m astonished at my fellow participants who also wrote toward their goals while holding down a day job. It’s been a long journey to get here, but the biggest thing I’ve taken away is that I can actually finish a novel. I’ve started many, but A Fickle and Restless Weapon (the book’s actual title) is the first one I’ve fully committed to finishing. It makes the prospect of writing my next novel a less daunting task, which is an important thing if I’m to have a lasting career.

Thank you to everyone for cheering me on. The book is finished, and I’m still basking in the glow of that accomplishment.

Okay, here are the entries from Week 6 at Team Hitchhiker:

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Last Week of the Write-a-Thon!

Rage Over Babylon by Ziv QualOkay, I let things get slack here again, but I’m happy to say that I’ve been incredibly productive during these last few weeks of the Clarion Write-a-Thon. As of the end of Week Five, I’m still on target (in point of fact, exactly on target, down to the word). A few things that I’ve discovered in the last three weeks:

  • I don’t seem to be able to write every single day. And when I push myself to do so, my productivity plummets. So I took the tactic of trying to write at least three or four times a week, and that seems to have kept me on track.
  • If I have a particularly good writing session (ergo, over 2K words), I can’t necessarily reproduce that experience by going back to the same location and siting in the same chair, ordering the same drink, etc. There were some days that I hardly did more than daydream.
  • Life will get in the way. Family problems will crop up, small children will get sick, you will get sick, a crisis will have to be dealt with right now. It happens. Rather than beat myself up over the writing time I was missing, I tried to stay more in the moment, and console myself by making up the wordage in later days.
  • Taking weekends off is essential. Seriously. Time to rest and play with my daughter.
  • Writing to a regular schedule is actually not that hard. Being accountable to people (like my donors) was a fantastic motivation to stay on this schedule.

I’m now heading into the final week of the Write-a-Thon. I only have two more shortish chapters to finish and then the Tower novel will be done, and I can type THE END. It’s both exhilarating and terrifying.

I’ve already posted my entry for today, but I want to reiterate something. My background music this afternoon was Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack for The Dark Knight Rises, which expresses all the grandeur and tragedy that I’m trying to convey in these final chapters. And I’m reminded of something that Christopher Nolan said about the film, that a great story deserves a great ending. It’s something I’m keeping in mind very much right now, although more prosaically I just keep telling myself not to fuck it all up.

One way or another, this week I will finish my novel. I know that I can fix things in revision, but I’m still hoping against hope that I have the ability and the courage to give this book the ending it deserves.

As I mentioned above, this is the final week of the Write-a-Thon, so if you’ve been considering sponsoring me or one of the other participants, now is the time to do so. If all of the pledges come through, we still need to raise an additional $2K; if none of the pledges comes through, we still need to raise $6K (although the real number will probably be somewhere in the middle). I’ve been very lucky so far to see wonderful generosity from friends, family, and acquaintances, but if you want to add your name to that list, and share in the final exciting moments of me finishing my book, you can do so at my Write-a-Thon profile. Please don’t put it off.

Okay, here are the entries from Weeks 3-5 at Team Hitchhiker:

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Almost Halfway Through the Write-a-Thon

Rage Over Babylon by Ziv QualThings have been quiet here at the blog, as expected, while I pound away at the last section of the Tower novel for the Clarion Write-a-Thon. I’m happy to say that I’m more or less on schedule, having written 12K+ words since I started on 25 June. I’ve run just a smidge behind because of illness and some quite sucky personal issues that I won’t go into here, but I should be able to catch up easily enough to reach my 30K goal by 4 August.

I mentioned in my last entry that I’d be posting weekly round-ups of my entries at Team Hitchhiker, and I have neglected to do that, bad bad writer. So I’ll go ahead and link them individually below. In each entry, I post my progress, a short write-up about what went well or poorly during the writing session, and a short extract of the written work as proof that I wasn’t only playing Diamond Dash during my writing time.

I should reiterate that even though the Write-a-Thon is more than a third over, The Clarion Foundation is still taking sponsorship donations, and will be until the end of the ‘thon. So if you’d still like to sponsor me (and each new sponsor gives me further incentive to achieve my writing goals), you can do so at my Write-a-Thon profile; even if it’s just a few bucks, it helps, believe me.

Okay, here are the entries so far:

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Write-a-Thon Commenced!

The Clarion Write-a-Thon has begun, and I did my first batch of writing today. I’m on Team The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (which tickles me to no end), and I’ll be posting my updates both on the Team Hitchhiker Blog and on my Write-a-Thon profile. Although I think that I’ll also post weekly roundups here as well.

Please remember that you can still sponsor me for the six weeks during the Write-a-Thon for any amount; every little bit counts. And the more donors I have, the more accountable I’ll feel, and the more motivated I’ll be to accomplish my goals.

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Clarion Write-a-Thon: Sponsor Me! (updated)

Clarion Write-a-ThonThis is a long entry, but please do read all the way to the end.

For long-time readers of this blog, and its previous incarnation at LiveJournal, you know how important an experience the Clarion Writers’ Workshop was for me. I attended in 2002, the 30th anniversary of the workshop being conducted on the campus of MSU at East Lansing, and it was a transformative experience. Having six weeks to do nothing but write, critique, read, and spend time with like-minded peers was a wonderful gift, and it unlocked something inside me that enabled me to begin seeing publication afterwards. Talk to almost any graduate of Clarion or Clarion West, and you’ll get a similar story.

And so, this year, exactly one decade after I attended Clarion, as a way for me to give something back, I will be participating in the Clarion Write-a-Thon (Facebook event). During the 2012 six-week session of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop at UCSD (June 24 to August 4), I will be following along with the 18 participants of the workshop during their frenetic life-changing experience in San Diego, and in solidarity doing a significant amount of writing myself.

My goal at the end of those six weeks is to write the final 30,000 words of my Tower novel (which I have been working on for six and half years at this point, and desperately want to finish), as well as raise some money for The Clarion Foundation (a wonderful non-profit organization that provides funding for the Workshop, and scholarships for the attendees). Broken down, that’s 5,000 words per week, which means that even if I solely write on weekdays, it’s only 1,000 words per day, which is totally doable.

I had planned to do this anyway, since other recent commitments have meant putting aside the Tower novel for a few months, but this structure will, I’m hoping, better enable me to complete my goal, especially if y’all are watching.

But I need your help.

In order to keep me motivated, I need people to sponsor me for the duration of the Write-a-Thon. You can pledge an amount that only gets donated if I complete my 30,000 word goal, or you can make a lump-sum donation on my behalf regardless of whether I get to 30K. Amounts start at $1 and go as high as you want. And because The Clarion Foundation is a nonprofit organization with 501(c)(3) charitable status, donations are tax deductible.

Remember, I don’t see a cent of the money that gets donated; however, if I get a minimum of $20 in donations, I have the option of joining a group of eight Write-a-Thon writers, and having that support structure in place so we can each root each other on. There are also prizes for the top earners, and although I’m less concerned about these than getting the writing done, snagging a Clarion paperweight and/or gift card would be some nice frosting on that cake.

There are a bunch of links on this entry, but here’s the important one ——–> my Write-a-Thon profile. Click there to check out my profile, keep updated on my progress, and make your tax-deductible sponsorship pledges.

Every little bit helps, and it is all appreciated, but here are some additional incentives that may help you to help me:

  • For every pledge of $10, your name will appear in the acknowledgments at the back of the book.
  • For every pledge of $20, you will also receive a DRM-free ebook trio (.epub, .mobi, and .pdf) of the finished Tower novel.
  • For every pledge of $40, you will also receive a DRM-free ebook trio of my short story “Complications of the Flesh,” which was just published in Bull Spec #7, and which shares the fictional setting of the Tower novel.
  • For every pledge of $50, you will also receive a DRM-free ebook trio of my rare 2001 holiday chapbook The Curragh of Kildaire, illustrated throughout by Jamie Bishop.
  • For every pledge of $75, you will also receive both a signed paperback copy and a DRM-free ebook trio of my 2011 collection Red Dot Irreal.
  • For every pledge of $100, you will also receive a signed paperback copy of the Tower novel once it is available.
  • For every pledge of $200, I will also name a character in one of the Tower novel’s final scenes (a prison breakout) after you or a person of your choice.
  • For every pledge of $500, I will also write a special one-of-a-kind story just for you which takes place in the fictional universe of the Tower novel, to be produced as an extremely limited edition signed chapbook of one copy.

If anyone is generous enough to pledge at amounts beyond that, I’ll come up with new tiers and rewards on the fly. 🙂

Thanks in advance!

N.B. My good friend Eugene Myers is participating in the Write-a-Thon for Clarion West; please consider sponsoring him as well.

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