Where I’ll be next month

By that title, I don’t just mean “I’ll be going to X place during June” — I mean I’ll be in X place for essentially the entirety of June.

Some of you may be familiar with Duke TIP. (Others of you may know the very similar CTY instead.) This is a program I participated in as a kid; when I was twelve, I went to Davidson for three weeks to read and talk about science fiction short stories. The next year it was marine biology in Galveston; then it was tropical ecology in Costa Rica; then geology and a bit of archaeology in New Mexico. TIP is probably the single coolest thing I got to do during my adolescence.

And now I’m going back, this time on the other side of things. I’m heading off to North Carolina in early June to teach a creative writing course, focused on SF/F/H. It will be ridiculously intense: class runs for two three-hour blocks every day, M-F, and another block on Saturday morning. That’s thirty-three hours of instruction per week, for three weeks straight. It’s “Clarion for twelve-year-olds.”

I’m not only allowed, I’m expected to make this the most awesome and challenging three weeks those kids have ever seen. We’re talking about seventh- and eighth-graders who have scored a 570 or better on the verbal portions of the SAT. Want to know what I’m giving them for a “how to write” textbook? Delany. I’ll be lecturing a bit, but there will be much more in the way of discussion, and they’ll be doing writing exercises until their brains fall out. My challenge will be to figure out how to pace things such that they get enough variety to keep the brain-falling-out stage from happening too soon.

I won’t be blogging the process as I go, because I don’t think that would be appropriate. But I’ll probably have thoughts about it after the fact, and I’ll certainly share my syllabus/readings/etc. In the meantime, if I’m less chatty online than usual during June, you’ll know why.

It’s because my brain will be on the floor, along with those of my students. 🙂

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0 Responses to “Where I’ll be next month”

  1. wshaffer

    Hey, I didn’t know you were also a TIPster! One of my summers I took a creative writing course focused on satire. It was *ridiculous*, in the best possible way.

    • Marie Brennan

      I’d love to hear your stories! My own SF course wasn’t focused on writing, so I could certainly use pointers for how other people have approached it.

  2. alecaustin

    You’re having them read On Writing, I presume? (Or something else, like The Jewel-Hinged Jaw?)

    I kind of wish that had “The Politics of Paraliterary Criticism” in it, but one can’t have everything.

    I went to CTY for two years after 7th and 8th grade, which is… fairly unsurprising, for our cohort.

    • Marie Brennan

      Both, actually. Along with an excerpt from Rhetorics of Fantasy.

      And yes, I’m not surprised to find other TIP/CTY types in my social circle. 🙂

      • alecaustin


        Not that I think you would be the sort of instructor to suggest an over-reverent attitude towards the text, but it may be worth pointing out that some of Delany’s ideas about reading (and thus sentence-by-sentence composition) appear to be derived from an understanding of how reading works (i.e. assembling a sentence one word at a time) which is far from universal, especially among faster readers. This renders some of his more prescriptivist essays… problematic, shall we say.

        • Marie Brennan

          Oh yeah. I still think his point about how the text is continually revising your mental image is a good one, but digging down into it to the degree that he does . . . not so much.

          • alecaustin

            Just so.

            I find Delany’s books on writing incredibly valuable – it’s just that after a certain point, their value transitioned from “this book is amazing!” to “this book has clarified my thoughts because I want to argue with it.”

          • Marie Brennan

            I think that outcome would please him, too. 🙂

  3. Marie Brennan

    The semester I taught creative writing at IU was hands-down the best teaching experience of my life thus far, so I’m looking forward to this. 🙂

  4. vcmw

    That sounds absolutely awesome! I did the CTY thing for two years, and it was a really good experience.

  5. Marie Brennan

    Yeah, I’m sorry to miss the con (and also a friend’s wedding). But next year, perhaps! (For the con, that is, not the wedding.)

  6. eclectician

    That’s pretty friggin’ awesome.

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