Saturday, January 06, 2007

It's two years since I turned up in Brisbane for Clarion South 05. Sometime around about now there is a new batch of keen writers packing bags and laptops and wondering how they'll ever manage to write a short story a week for the next six weeks.

In thinking about Clarion and the speculative fiction genre in general I find myself wondering if we mightn't be better to fund places by selling the rights to television. I'm thinking a format which is half 'Big Brother' half 'Biggest Loser'.

Just think, 17 people put into a large building together. Living side by side, day by day. Constant heat and pressure to perform.

Each week our contestants could be called on to take part in special challenges. The one to write the most coherent words in 10 minutes (with penalties for mis-spellings and punctuation errors).

Sleep deprivation tasks where participants are told at 10pm that there's been a mistake in the schedule and they have to deliver their next story for critique tomorrow instead of Friday (and tomorrow is Tuesday!)

Penalties could include shopping and wash up duty and prizes could be trips to the Mall and air-conditioning for a night!

Perhaps letters from home could be read at regular intervals accompanied by tears and statements like "I just want to make Jill (or Jayne or John) proud" and writers could be evicted each week by the other contestants. Reasons could be "for poor prose", "for submitting 10,000 short stories three weeks in a row" or because "their protagonists in this week's story doesn't protag".

Perhaps the last man standing could be guarenteed publication. If it's Clarion South we're talking about then the carrot would have to be for that elusive American market.

Just think they could sell the rights. Viewers could call in on pay telephone lines to propose topics, suggest different story endings.

These unknown writers would be catapaulted into instant celebritydom AND think of what it would do for the genre!


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