alisa alering

Writer of fantasy and other fictions


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2013: I Did It

I am a writer who–like many of you–routinely deals with rejection from editors, setbacks, uncooperative drafts, lost opportunities, time constraints, deadlines, idea droughts, revision hell, and other unfriendly aspects of the writing life. One December, after I’d had a particularly awful week, I needed some perspective. Surely I had done something right that year I could be happy about?

So writes Lisa Romeo, in her end-of-year blog post, encouraging other writers to join her in an “I Did It” list.

It’s 20F outside in the middle of the afternoon. I have a terrible cold that makes me as sharp and lively as a dehydrated blueberry. I tried to work on my novel this morning and I couldn’t make sense of my notes from last session (Thank Goodness there are notes, at least). I’m at about the 3/4 mark on this draft and realizing how very much important structural stuff I left until “later.” I really want to be done with it and getting reader feedback, but I still have pretty much all of Part IV to go. So I thought maybe I needed to look back and see how far I have already come with this novel. Maybe I can’t say “I Did It” to a finished novel, but there are lot of pieces I Did Do.

The History of a Novel-in-Progress:

  • February 2012: Scene-by-scene outline of novel, following Jack Bickham’s Scene & Structure model. This was a homework assignment in “Narrative Structures in Fantastic Fiction” an online course taught by Bruce Holland Rogers through the Odyssey Workshop. I took this workshop hoping to improve my short stories, I didn’t expect anything to do with novels, and I had no idea for this novel before doing the assignment.
  • November 2012: Breakneck zero draft for NaNoWriMo, based on February’s outline. This is where I learned to give my protagonist a problem I cared about. I hit the end of the outline about 10,000 words short of the 50,000-word goal. I kept writing. Those last 10,000 words? That’s when I learned who all my characters really were–they weren’t in service to the plot anymore, and I had the freedom to get to know them.
  • November 2012: Talk with Clarion West-classmate Jenni Moody about how we really need to go to the CSSF Novel Writers Workshop in the summer of 2013. Because Kij Johnson!
  • January-February 2013: Reverse out-lining of NaNoWriMo draft and hectic re-writing of first 3 chapters to a highly polished sheen.
  • February 2013: Apply for an Individual Artist grant from the Indiana Arts Commission to support writing novel in 2013/14.
  • March 2013: Apply for and acceptance to CSSF Novel Writers Workshop. Whew!
  • June 2013: Two weeks of wisdom, example, outline, imagination, and the Glorious Fishbowl at the CSSF Workshop in Lawrence, KS.
  • June 2013: Receive IAC grant.
  • July-September 2013: First *real* draft of novel.
  • October-December 2013: Preparing draft for beta-readers.

I knew, of course, that writing a novel is a lot of work. But I think our little primate brains protect us from understanding the full scope of how much ‘a lot’ really is. I don’t regret my decision to go down this revision-paved road. And for 2014? It’s going to be finished. This novel is hitting the road, knocking on the doors of agents and editors.

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Clarion West Class of 2011: Publications, Sales, and Shiny Things 2013

It’s been more than two years since the Clarion West class of 2011 crawled despondently out of that last-night puppy pile and scattered to the four winds, pens clutched in eager hands. We have not been idle! Read on for new publications, a new magazine, grants, prizes, and new formats!

(To see what we were up to in 2012, check out Jenni Moody’s post from last year.)

Waylines

Waylines Magazine, co-founded by David Rees-Thomas (CW ’11) and Darryl Knickrehm after a successful Kickstarter in late 2012, had an auspicious first year, publishing 6 issues, 14 pieces of short fiction, 18 short films, plus reviews and author interviews.

Waylines Issue #4

Hullabaloo

In March, “Recognizing Gabe: un cuento de hadas” by Alberto Yañez was nominated for Best PodCastle Story of 2012.  Missing Links and Secret Histories: A Selection of Wikipedia Entries from Across the Known Multiverseedited by Week 5 instructor L. Timmel Duchamp and published by Aqueduct Press was recommended by Analee Newitz on NPR.com: “Secrets of the Universe: 5 Great SF and Fantasy Summer Reads.”

Continuing Education

There’s no doubt that Clarion West provides a great foundation for writing. But sometimes, you just want more! More institutional living, more devastating critiques, more sleepless nights, and more sagacious advice from wizened wise pros. Jenny Moody and I attended the CSSF Novel Writers Workshop in Lawrence, KS this summer. Instructors Kij Johnson and Barbara J. Webb were amazing, and I definitely recommend this workshop for anyone thinking of tackling their first novel. Jeremy Sim attended Revenge of Clarion West Odyssey Writing Workshop, another six-week residential course.

Jeremy Sim @ Odyssey

Jeremy Sim @ Odyssey

Alisa Alering

Corinne Duyvis

  • “The Applause of Others.” FISH. Dagan Books. Edited by Carrie Cuinn & KV Taylor. January 2013 (ebook)/May 2013 (print).
  • “Lilo Is.” Clockwork Phoenix 4. Edited by Mike Allen. Mythic Delirium Books. July 2013.

CP4_mini

Erik David Even

S.L. Gilbow

  • Pirates.” Rose Red Review. Issue No. 4. Spring 2013. (as Steven L. Wilson)
  • Red Card.” Escape Pod. Episode 393. April 26, 2013.
  • Those Tests.” Swamp Biscuits and Tea. Issue Five. August 2013.

Eliza Hirsch

Cassie Krahe

Jenni Moody

Maria Romasco-Moore

  • “Fisheye.” FISH. Dagan Books. Edited by Carrie Cuinn & KV Taylor. January 2013 (ebook)/May 2013 (print).
  • Peel.” Interfictions Online. Issue 2. October 2013.

Peel

Jeremy Sim

Anne Toole

Nick Tramdack

Alberto Yañez

  • The Coffinmaker’s Love.” Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Issue 131. October 3, 2013.
  • “This ain’t my first rodeo.” Performed at Portland Poetry Slam. April 21, 2013.

Congratulations to all of you (all of us?) and here’s to bigger, brighter, and stranger horizons in 2014!
*Toasts CW chums with a hot mocha and a slice of sugar-dusted stollen*