In times like these, I feel silly posting snippets about 80s music and the resurgence of its innovative drum sounds. There's such a need to stay in touch with shit that affects the material lives of so many people, but damnit, I learned some cool stuff from this video - stuff I'd been listening to for a long time without ever hearing - and maybe you will, too.
Here's some utopian city planning/worldbuilding worthy of a science fiction novel. This proposed city is built on rotating concentric rings. Need to go to work? Just wait a few minutes and it rotates closer to you.
Anyone who has lived in a city with a complex web of public transit immediately recognizes the level of geekery that can be applied to travel plans and routes between multiple rings. The fastest route to a location three rings away might include momentary backtracking into previous rings, in finely-timed forward and backward maneuvers. Of these minutia are entire plots assembled.
One of the most surprising things I discovered at the Clarion West writers workshop was what it lacked: snotty writers who thought they could do no wrong.
Anyone who has spent time in a writing group has met people like this, but they were notably absent from our group. On several occasions I tried to pry the secret of the selection process out of the workshop's leaders. How had they managed to pick a group of people who were universally dedicated to improving their own work, who supported the experimentation and growth of others, and who received critique and feedback with openness and grace? Where were the arguers, the defensive whiners, the self-appointed geniuses throwing their literary pearls before swine?
In the absence of preening jerks, our critique sessions unfolded in an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect. Disagreements were not uncommon, but they were devoid of rancor. I trusted the group in a way I had never experienced before. I wrote outside my comfort zone and was rewarded with supportive but unvarnished feedback to help me write better.
In an effort to help future Clarion West groups enjoy the same utopian experience, and with the caveat that I am not associated with Clarion West leadership and this is not an official declaration, I offer this set of guidelines.
Do not bother attending Clarion West if:
- You are looking for an opportunity to be praised, lauded by your amazed peers, or appointed as the Chosen One.
- You would prefer to defend the perfection of your prose and your choices as an author, rather than accept professional feedback.
- You feel better about your own work when you denigrate that of other people.
- You are unwilling to listen to the insights and perspectives of people different from yourself.
- Other people tend to describe you as "poisonous," "toxic," "a narcissistic asshole," or other terms typically applied to hazardous materials or psychopaths.
I don't (yet) have a complete (marketable) book manuscript yet, but I already know that Dominik Mayer would be on the short list of people I'd beg a publisher to hire for the cover. Hell, I'd write a book just based on some of his illustrations. The intensity and lushness of his images is evocative of gaming and film cinematography.
PS - When I first wrote this entry, I typed that Dominik is one of the people "I'd bed a publisher to hire for the cover." Still accurate.
When I was at Clarion West I got to play with a VR headset for the first time. I wasn't surprised by how immersive the experience was, but perhaps a bit impressed at how quickly the brain transfers itself into an artificial setting. What seemed clear was that designers are still figuring out how to harness the medium. It was cool, but in a "let's throw some crazy stuff out there and see how people react" kind of way. It's very exciting to be present for the moment of creation for an entirely new artistic medium.
I loved the comment in this video: "I'm sad to think people will get used to it."