Clarion West Day 1: Time Compression and Liminality, Ahoy!

It’s Sunday morning, and just a few hours til the Clarion West workshop officially starts. We’ve been doing Locus awards events up til now – Congrats to all the winners, most of whom are Cat Valente.

I can see already one of the ways this becomes such a significant, life-changing experience, and it has to do with time compression. I’ve only been here for two days (less than, really), but it already feels much longer than that. There’ve been excellent conversations with amazing people, and the group is large enough to be able to atomize out in various permutations without it feeling weird or cliquey, but small enough that we still feel like a band. It helps that the surrounding social structure of alums and supporters are consistently narratively constructing us as a group, so that even in these first few days we have the common experience of receiving similar kinds of friendly teasing, excellent advice, and warm well-wishing.

This density of shared experience (with many other contributing elements – even in this there is so much to unpack), creates a feeling of time compression. It feels like I’ve been here so much longer, known my cohort longer, than just a day and change. I can see why attendees quickly lose the ability to blog. It would be like thrusting your head outside a speeding train just as the tunnel edge is coming up. You’re going so fast, how do you possibly break the bubble to communicate to people living in real time? Without splatting your head, I mean.

It’s such a classic Turner-esque liminal space. Our identities are becoming unfixed! We are being made powerful and monstrous! We must be broken down before we can break through! (which apparently happens mostly in week 4, but I will not cry. Connie Willis says there is no crying in baseball. And also that Andrew Lee Potts is adorbs).

Good thing I’m a fox. We know how to navigate liminal spaces. We thrive in them. We’re made for this kind of shit. So I will try to report back across the border. Just know that time works differently here (just like in Faerie), so I can’t promise that three hundred years won’t have passed the next time I stick my head out of the bubble.

I sincerely hope the effort won’t make my head go splat.

(crossposted at