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Storyteller: Writing Lessons and More from 27 Years of the Clarion Writers' Workshop Paperback – August 8, 2005
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"This book should be on the reference shelf of every aspiring writer. Highly recommended." -- SF Revu
From the Publisher
- Publisher : Small Beer Press; First Edition (August 8, 2005)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 200 pages
- ISBN-10 : 193152016X
- ISBN-13 : 978-1931520164
- Item Weight : 8.5 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.6 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #820,284 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
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I’ve spent the better part of the last year and a half vacillating between opinions regarding my future as a writer. I am currently writing professionally. I write these book reviews for fun (and to develop a personal brand that will be ever-so-appealing to future agents and publishers). And I work on my own fiction almost every day.
But I’ve got a hunger to study writing. I want to sit in a classroom and discuss the craft, read the words of my peers, and build a rigorous practice for myself as a writer.
The hunger led me to researching graduate programs in creative writing; specifically those that would be friendly to genre writers, considering the general sentiment among “academic” fiction writers and instructors toward fantasy and sci-fi.
But then I remembered hearing about Clarion, the six-week intensive workshop designed by and for genrefic writers that has been consistently churning out magnificent, successful writers for about 45 years.
And here’s a book by one of the women who was foundational in the workshop’s creation, writing about her own experience. I bought a copy without hesitation.
Storyteller is at once a memoir, writing textbook, pep-talk, and history. Kate Wilhelm’s writing is clear, engaging, entertaining, and honest. Her love for Clarion, its students, and speculative fiction as a whole. It’s hard not to get caught up in the thrill of the development of this unprecedented workshop, in the struggle as they were forced to move from university to university, in the confusion and emotional intensity that comes from sharing critiquing writing.
It’s a wonderful book, and would be regardless of its usefulness as a writing resource.
As a resource, however, I believe it to be tremendously valuable. The tips Wilhelm weaves within her stories, connected to examples of situations in which they applied, helps to ground her suggestions in reality. Oftentimes I will read pieces of writing advice, and they’ll go in one....eye? and out the other? How do you transpose that idiom?
My point being that there’s an additional weight to the advice Wilhelm gives in Storyteller. Something about the way she writes, coupled with what I’ve heard/read from so many Clarion alums, lends a degree of gravitas to her words.
Not only that, but they’re always kind, encouraging, and honest. It’s exactly what I needed to read to feel like this whole “writing” thing wasn’t a waste of time.
If you’re a writer, particularly a genrefic writer, you’ve got to get this book. Keep it close to you when you write. Leaf through it when you feel like you can’t write any more, and refuel with the gems of advice it contains.
In the edition I read, the tips she had scattered through the book were all collected in the back, including the original page numbers. Although a reader could skip the memoir, it's a short book that reads well and any reader would benefit from the whole thing.
In sharing 27 years of Clarion history, alongside the exercises and methods they used to teach new writers, the author manages to teach you not only how they do things and what they expect of their writers... but also how the curriculum came about, and why they do things the way they do.
Moreover, the rich history of Clarion breaks up the writing instruction itself with interesting biographical notes, and anecdotes about the workshop. Highly recommended as an approachable, useful and inspiring little book.