There are some people who think that the main advantage of Clarion is the networking. And, sure, it’s neat to have seventeen new friends who are all great writers. But the theory is that doing 100+ critiques in six weeks (35,000+ words of crit, for me), plus listening to 80+ hours of 17 people doing 1,700+ three-minute crits of their own (not exaggerating; do the math) will create an "internal editor" for the student that will allow you to examine your own work with a more effective critical eye.
The theory is correct. Damn it.
The 2009 Clarionites have created an online crit group to continue to help each other with stories. I am slated to submit a story at the end of next week, and thought I would revise one I wrote in February-through-April. I liked it well enough before I left for Clarion, and I figured, hey, I’ll do a quick revision and show it to ’em.
So I looked at it last night (after telling my classmates about it, of course), in preparation for that "quick revision."
The characters are opaque and mostly cardboard, the narration utterly on-the-bloody-broken-nose, there’s no sense of place, and the language is so wooden I could use it to build a gallows. I stared in disbelief, thinking "I really liked this?"
So I’m rewriting from scratch. I have no idea how much better the thing I submit will be, but at least I have some idea of the
thing things battalion of things that is are wrong with it, and can take some aim at it them.
So thank you, Clarion, for this new critical eye — a freaking raven on my goddam shoulder, croaking insults in my ear.
(…*sigh* Not really angry, just a little rueful and embarrassed…)