The Best Broken Heart You’ll Ever Have

I’ve been hesitant to try to write up anything describing my experience at Clarion, but Sam does a pretty fantastic job here (case in point: He writes, “You’ll be part of the Greater Clarion Collective Hive Mind, encompassing all Clarion UCSD and Clarion West graduates,” and here I am, referring to someone on a first-name basis whom I only know through twitter/Clarion).

Even if you have been in workshop settings before, I doubt that they were anything like the Clarion experience. You have less than a week to write a draft of a story, and then sit there while 18-20 other people tear it apart. But even the most painful criticisms are valuable and constructive. Having been in workshops before myself, I spent my first few days at Clarion carefully observing which of the people at this table actually had valid opinions worth a damn, or could actually write a halfway decent story. I quickly realized that EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM lived up to my pretentious standards. And there’s no one there who’s going to go easy on you, or just kiss your ass — everyone challenges each other, because everyone cares, and when its done, you come out the other side as a better reader, writer, and person.

Sam does a great job here describing the downside of Clarion as well: the sadness at its ending. When you return home, and have to go to work, and do chores around the house, and the difficulty of explaining this immense emotional experience to your loved ones who couldn’t share it with you (as much as that distance may have ached, and as sweet as that reunion may have been).

Every harsh critique you might receive is easily counteracted by those moments when Robert Crais says, “Ya know, when I saw that someone wrote a detective story, I said, ‘This kid’s got balls,” and I was really looking forward to tearing it apart. But your story here? This is really good,” or when Kim Stanley Robinson shows up at your door with a watergun and a bottle of wine, or Cory Doctorow shakes your hand and looks you straight into the eye and says, “I’ll see you around the writers’ circuit soon.” You leave Clarion with an incredible network of writers and mentors in various stages of your career with whom you’ve shared this incredible experience and whom you can always call on — for recommendations, for feedback, for advice, or just for a beer.

So what I’m trying to say is what Sam puts so eloquently in this piece, which is that if you want to be a fiction writer in the “genre” fields, you’d be a fool not to apply to Clarion. It doesn’t matter how good you are, or how far along you think you are — just do it. I promise it’ll be worth it.

Clarion Blog

Sam J. Miller is a writer and a community organizer. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, Electric Velocipede, Shimmer, Daily Science Fiction, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Nightmare, The Minnesota Review, The Rumpus, and many more. He is a graduate of the Clarion UCSD class of 2012, and the co-editor of Horror After 9/11, a critical anthology published by the University of Texas Press and included in the “Brilliant/Lowbrow” quadrant of the famed New York Magazine Approval Matrix. Visit him at www.samjmiller.com
When it’s over, you’ll be sad for the rest of your life. #Clarion

Lisa read the tweet to us at the beach, ankle-deep in warm La Jolla surf. “That’s from a Clarion 2010 graduate. I said something about how we were entering the final week.”

“Damn,” someone else said. “Sad for the rest of your life? They oughtta tell you that going in.”

It’s the next-to-last Friday…

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Brewin’ Up The Beers!

Or, bottling them, anyway.

Last night I bottled this Irish Draught Ale, which is the first beer that I’ll complete from a Northern Brewer recipe kit (long story short, Modern Homebrew in Cambridge is horrible, and everyone who works there is like Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons only worse). It’s a Smithwick’s-style ale, with some honey added as a cultural throwback. But even the room-temp, flat tasting sample shown above was pretty delicious, so I’m looking forward to it. Lucky for me, I finished it just in time for St. Paddy’s Day!

Coming up soon in the fermenters, I’ve got a Blood Orange White IPA (not sure what to call that color combination yet….), and my first Pilsner (which I’m kind of terrified of). Stay tuned for more!

That Was The Homophobic Girl I Poured A Beer On And Then Got Her Kicked Out Of The Bar That Was

This is a story.

(I assume there is a parallel universe where someone wrote this from the opposing point of view and called it “That Was The Homo That Poured A Beer On Me And Then I Got Kicked Out Of The Bar”)

five by five hundred

I recently attended a bachelor party in a strange dystopian place that was not unlike a Terry Gilliam movie, and while I’m not legally allowed to speak of many details, there is one anecdote that I feel obligated to share.

At this point in the evening, we were, of course, terribly inebriated and acting generally inappropriate in public, as these things tend to go. For what it’s worth, this was fairly common in our chosen destination, and with the exception of one horrified mother, most people seemed to be entertained by our behavior. We met a group of girls, one of whom was celebrating her birthday. They appeared to share our debaucherous attitude, and agreed to pose for a photograph with the Man Of Honor.

Naturally, I decided to photobomb their picture with the Bachelor, because alcohol. Another friend in our group joined me in the fun, and we posed…

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The Math Aficionado’s Guide to High-Fives

The trick to connecting is to always look at the elbow.

Math with Bad Drawings

The Asymptote. This representation of one of the coolest behaviors a function can have is also good for germaphobes afraid of physical contact.

The High 5, Mod 5. Ever wondered, “What exactly is the difference between a fist bump and a high-five?” The pedestrian mind might say, “One uses closed fists, and one uses open palms.” But I reply that in modular arithmetic, there is no difference at all.

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This Blog Post Will Make You Understand Why Amanda Palmer Is The Worst

I’ve established a bit of a reputation for myself as a Professional Amanda Palmer basher, ever since I wrote an angry little parody poem in response to her “Poem for Dhzokhar” which ended up exploding onto BuzzFeed and The Guardian UK. I was never particularly fond of her, even before that — some of her music is fine, sure, but her Neutral Milk Hotel Jukebox Musical left a very sour taste in my mouth1, and her production of Cabaret at the American Repertory Theatre was the single worst (not to mention most masturbatory) professional theatre production I have ever experienced — but it wasn’t until recently that I really started seething at the mention of her continued existence on our shared plane of reality. That might sound a little extreme — she hasn’t, you know, killed anyone or anything — but the cognitive dissonance between the message that Amanda Palmer conveys and the things that she actually does fills me with such vehement anger, that I feel the need to articulate the ongoing problem that she continues to present.

I’m choosing to write about this now is because I’ve had a number of people bring my attention to her latest blog post about Justin Bieber’s arrest, all saying that they awaited my snarky response to it. And while sure, I could do that (hell, maybe I still will), I thought it would be better for me to take the Amanda Palmer approach and express my feelings in a rambling blogpost which I can then in turn proclaim to be “art” and thereby diminish any and all criticisms of my own shortcomings by blowing a raspberry at my detractors and say “IT’S JUST ART YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND I’M JUST TRYING TO EXPRESS MYSELF AND THAT IS BEAUTIFUL.”

Continue reading This Blog Post Will Make You Understand Why Amanda Palmer Is The Worst

Boston #1MPF 2014! (Also It’s 2014?)

Hi! It’s a month into the New Year and I haven’t posted anything despite the fact that I promised myself I was going to blog more regularly in 2014 to express my thoughts in long form again! Whoops!

In the meantime, here’s video from the 2014 One Minute Play Festival, which featured two scripts by me. The complete show can be seen below, but my two plays can be found at about 1:01:11, and then around 1:41:55.

I’ve probably got a whole buncha other stuff I could share right now, including a ton of videos for the Huntington and my new Upworthy-parody website, SFFworthy. But I’m not going to do that right now. Instead, I’ll really-really-really-but-actually try to keep up on this, because frankly, there’s not excuse for not doing it.

Go team!