It’s the Clarion West Writeathon!

Well, huge embarrassment as I’m taking part in the Clarion West Writeathon, but I HAVEN’T MENTIONED IT ALL!

For which I deserve slapping with many wet fish. No excuses about the deep hecticness of the last few weeks will do. Anyway, now I am mentioning it, and urging everyone to support it, which you can do by clicking on the donation button here.

So, first of all, a little about Clarion West. It’s been described as ‘Boot Camp for Writers’, and is an excellent, six week long, speculative fiction writing course held annually in Seattle.

Previous attendees include such luminaries as Ted Chiang, Cory Doctorow, Cat Rambo, Justina Robson, Kathryn Cramer and Gordon van Gelder. Previous instructors include everyone from Chuck Palahniuk to Ursula K. Le Guin, via China Mieville, Ellen Datlow, and many others. Many UK and US writer friends have attended, and got huge amounts out of it.

Clarion West itself is run primarily by volunteers, for volunteers; donations go to help cover the costs of making the workshop happen, and support any attendees who need it.

And what about the Writeathon itself? Well, it began on 21st June, and runs until 31st July. I set myself the goal of plotting out the next novel, and drafting a short story – either the dragon blitz one, or my long gestating Charles Hawtrey ghost story.

As it turns out, most of my time so far has gone into plotting the novel, which is (very broadly speaking) ‘The Third Man’ in space, with additional magic and suburbs.

So far, I’ve worked out the opening quarter of it, which is set in the docking area of *HUGE* space station orbiting a post-nuclear apocalypse Earth. Moving on to the middle parts of the novel, which are set further into the space station, I realised I had more worldbuilding to do.

So, I’ve been hanging out in Westfield Shopping Centre (one of the single most spaceship-like artefacts that humanity has yet created), pondering Ballard, reading up on ubiquitous computing, and exploring the relationship between Renaissance magic, coding and branding – all three ways of bending malleable worlds to personal or corporate will.

More updates to come over the next week or so, mostly by Twitter (follow me at @al_robertson). In the meantime, I’d urge you once again to donate to the Writeathon here. Or, you can support me personally by regularly hassling me to make sure that I’m writing!

Oh, and the short story drafting – bit of an imponderable, given that the novel plotting is taking a lot longer than I thought it would, but hopefully next week I should be able to clear a day and blast out a first draft of the dragon blitz story. Fingers crossed!

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