Sunday, January 04, 2009

I just finished Storyteller by Kate Wilhelm.

Subtitled "Writing Lessons and More from 27 Years of the Clarion Writers' Workshop", Storyteller is an odd hybrid, part writing advice book, part memoir, part history. The Clarion Writer's Workshop is a famous writing workshop that focuses mainly on short stories and mostly in the science fiction and fantasy genres. A significant number of Clarion graduates have gone on to be successful published authors, including Bruce Sterling, Kim Stanley Robinson and Cory Doctorow. Wilhelm, along with her husband Damon Knight, was involved from the start of the workshop and helped shape it for many years.

The hybrid nature of the book means that there is probably a very narrow audience that will appreciate it - those who are interested in both the history of the Clarion workshop and those interested in the craft of writing.

As a voracious reader, the subject of writing often comes up, a subject I am ambivalent about. Over the years I have done a small amount of fiction writing but other than a few things I wrote back in high school, I've never been satisfied with the result. On the one hand, the idea of creating something as interesting as many of the books I have read over the years is appealing. On the other hand, I know from both personal experience and discussions with friends who are professional writers that writing is very hard work.

But even if I never do any serious writing myself, one thing I know I enjoy is reading about the craft behind art, whether it's writing or not. As such, this was an enjoyable book for me.

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