Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Day One: Uncle Orson's Writing Class (Brainsplosion)

Today I met Orson Scott Card, and it's crazy, he's just a guy. That's the first impression anyway. You don't have to listen to him for very long before you realize that you are in the presence of one of the greatest minds you will ever encounter. As for what he's like, "Scott" is very funny and warm. He is amusingly self-deprecating. He is patient and lets people talk, but he owns the room. He never has to tell you to be quiet. When he needs you to be, somehow you just are. And he can be totally brutal. He doesn't tip-toe around the mistakes you make. He stomps them like cockroaches. And that's good. It makes his compliments mean something.

Speaking of which (you guys will love this):

Scott said that there were so many good entries this year, he could have held two boot camps. The competition was really stiff. The fact that I made it means more than I thought. Also, after listening to him systematically DESTROY both first-person and present-tense during our length discussion of viewpoint, I couldn't help but laugh. My entry had been BOTH. And it was about ZOMBIES! When we read through the boot camp entries in class, Scott's first comment was "Did you notice there was some first-person, present-tense in there? But what did you think? Not a bad story, eh?" And he looked right at me. (At least I like to think he did. There was only one other first-person, present-tense story, and I liked mine better.)

I asked him later why I was allowed in, even though my entry went against his "rule." He said, "Because I wanted to know what happened. Sometimes first-person present-tense can work, and this worked." It's not like he told me I was the next Bradbury or anything, but he looked me in the eye and treated me like a writer. How did that feel to me personally, deep down in my little writer's marrow? Nothing short of historic.

First day of class = WORTH EVERY PENNY.

We did a thousand ideas session that ended up being about a woman who scuba dives in sewage. We ran out of time before we could nail down all the reasons, but we came up with some crazy stuff as a group. I liked my idea, but it got swallowed up in a billion others and eventually smothered to death.

Anyway, I better wrap this up. I'm still working on my assignment that has to be done by 9 a.m. I have to come up with FIVE complete stories summaries. Not ideas or hooks. Full. Summaries. Stories with a beginning and an ending. It's harder than it sounds, especially if you don't want them to suck. I've got four so far. It's a madhouse in my brain right now: Divorce ceremonies. Killer snowballs. Wild gods who have been too long without masters. A man in a suit and tie standing in a river. My imagination is running some funky tracks, but I think that's good.

But I gotta go. Assignment. Sleep. Get butt kicked some more.

Good times.

(One final thing I am learning: ENDURANCE. I have LONG since passed the point where I would usually think I was too tired and quit. It's nice to know those limitations are false.)


  1. I'm not surprised. For some reason, I had a feeling that you would stand out. It sounds like you have a healthy perspective on this experience too. It's awesome to hear how much you're gleaning from this. I'm with Couch, I couldn't stop reading...your blog.

  2. Remember all those car trips late into the night when we would tell "round", progressive stories? Or you and I would write stories together? You have always had a gifting toward this. Your faszhah ees prould of yoo!

  3. Hey...I am so proud of you. I am telling everyone about this blog. It is amazing to hear you talk about what you are doing. I wish I were there to hear it all....passively...in person. But, you tell it so well that I get the emotion even from afar. Love you!

  4. I'm so proud of you! Thanks for taking the time to write this... I miss you a lot and it helps to know what's going on. I told mom and dad today about what Orson Scott Card said about your story, and they are proud, too. You have a lot of people cheering for you. :) Love.

  5. So I'm not the only one who wants to know how it ends.. :) I'm glad you're there and I knew you'd be great. Can't wait to talk to you when you get back but please, keep up the blogging, it's riveting.