Clarion Redux

For all my musing and thinkings earlier this year about whether or not to apply to Clarion, I went ahead and did it.  I’m not sure I’ll be able to afford to go unless they give me scholarship money, but that’s a problem to deal with AFTER I get in at all.  I figure that if I want it enough (and I wouldn’t have applied if I didn’t) that I’ll find a way to beg, borrow, or steal to get there.

As for my earlier fears of Clarion slowing me down too much, well, I’ve sorted out that issue as well.  I’ve figured out that if I’m consistent in my writing, I only need about 2-3 hours a day to write.  I’m sure that even with all the distractions of being at Clarion, I should be able to find 2-3 hours to get things done (after all, my classmates will have to be doing stories and critiques and such as well).  So I think I could still keep up my production rates and get the work done while hopefully enjoying the socialization and networking and learning that Clarion provides.

So we’ll see.  I don’t know if my writing is good enough to get me in.  I picked two of my favorite stories for the application.  Hopefully that’s enough.  I imagine with the line-up of instructors this year that they’ll get tons of applications and they can only take 18.  But it’s out of my hands now.

As for non-Clarion workshops, I’m going to make it to at least three this next spring and to Reno for World Con this summer.  While writing and practicing are good, learning and expanding my network are important also.  It’s a struggle sometimes to figure out the monies for this stuff, but this is my career and I figure investing in my future is probably a wise thing.  I’ve definitely grown as a writer and a person this year because of the workshops and conventions and I want to continue that growth.

11 Responses to “Clarion Redux”

  1. D. M. Bonanno

    how exciting! good luck, I hope you get in.

  2. Scott W. Baker

    I wouldn’t be afraid of Clarion slowing you down. Clarion is (supposed to be) about quality as much as/more than quantity and fitting the two together. It might be good to step back from your furious and impressive pace to reevaluate your process. As I understand it, there’s a $#!+load of reading to do that is as beneficial as anything else. Wish we’d done more of that at WotF.

    I’m sticking to my guns and choosing not to apply this year (badass though the faculty may be). My career is veering away from short fiction…very, very slowly, but away. And I can’t stomach the thought of being away from my family. One week was bad enough.

    So good luck. I’m still a believer in what Clarion does and what it stands for and I don’t think for an instant I’m too good for it to help me, I’m just not in the right place for it now.

    By the way, a little bird suggested my CW application wasn’t daring enough last year. So don’t play it safe. Not that I expect you’re accused of that too often. 🙂

    • izanobu

      See, I don’t get the whole quality vs quantity thing. There’s no reason that writing a lot (and I don’t even write that much, just a couple hours a day on average) can’t mean writing well… My pace needs to pick up, if anything. Writing is my full time job, no reason for me to not treat it like a job, and practicing is the best way to learn. I doubt anyone in the world would tell a world-class violinist or artist that they need to play less violin or paint/draw less art. That’s just silly, sorry. Ever since I stopped buying into the slow=better and rewriting=writing myths, my writing has improved and I’ve started actually selling. No way am I going to stop doing something that’s working, I like those checks too much.
      As for reading, define “shitload”? I’ve read between 200 and 250 books this year (didn’t keep exact track). I also read and sorta crit for multiple people (as much as I have time for anyway), so that’s not exactly something I’m lacking for either. 🙂

      I’m hoping that Clarion will be a different kind of workshop than the more professional and business driven ones I’ve been attending and frankly, I’d mostly be going for the networking as much as any craft skills I might pick up. I’m hoping that if I get in and can afford to go that I’ll find the workshop to be a good blend of networking and craft development. We’ll see, I guess.

      As for my application, I sent in my two favorite stories. One got Semi-finalist in WotF and is being held for final consideration at a well-known anthology series, the other almost sold to a pro-zine and has gotten some very encouraging rejections from others. So we’ll see if I played it too safe, but I think those stories definitely represent my writing at this point, so here’s hoping.

      • Scott W. Baker

        Never meant to imply that quality and quantity were separate items, only separate focuses. I agree, it’s counterproductive to rewrite the same paragraph fifty times trying to get it “just right”. I also agree that writing more will increase the quality of what you write.

        The value of Clarion is in the speed of feedback and the quality of that feedback. 17 roughly-comparable writers and one (usually award-winning) pro give feedback within a week. Fast feedback to apply to that story and the next.

        Where I feel that the quality focus comes in is when you learn something, you go out of your way to apply it to a story. You allow yourself to wrestle with something for a while to try something new. Like what? Displays of emotion in new ways, unsympathetic characters, more description, less description, new subgenre, new voice for character…whatever strikes you as “yeah, I could spend some time on that”. Clarion is an opportunity to spend time on experiemnts without losing the time you’d have to wait for feedback.

        As for the reading, that comes mostly from hearsay from Clarionites that they were overwhelmed by the perpetual reading and critiquing, but it also proved more valuable than receiving critiques.

        I’d have to imagine that the networking and such is also part of the value. Like I said, I’d still love to go…but the perceived value no longer outweighs the cost of family time. Not this year. Maybe in 5 or 10, if I still need it. Or maybe I’ll be teaching it one day? (Swallows pipe dream in one big gulp.)

      • izanobu

        Ah, thanks for the clarification. I didn’t mean to jump on you like that, I’m just sensitive to the whole “writing less means writing better” stupidity thing. I guess I just hear it a lot and it bugs me to no end because it’s like telling a marathon runner they’ll win more races by running a lot less and thinking about running a lot more 😛

        See, my writing process already is about learning through application 🙂 Every story, even every novel, I pick things I want to work on (characterization, pacing, POV, etc) and devote that story or that novel to working on improving that thing. So each time I write something new I’m hopefully learning more and working out the kinks in my writing. So pretty much all my writing time is devoted to experimenting and implementing the techniques I see in the stuff I read and/or in the writing books/blogs/etc that I read. That’s why I feel I need to write more, not less. More writing = more practice 🙂

  3. thomaskcarpenter

    Speaking of selling, grats on the Daily Science Fiction story finally coming out! Just got it a few minutes ago in my email. Looking forward to reading it when I get home from work tonight. 🙂


  4. widdershins

    Just read your story in Daily SF .. it’s a good read…. might be interesting to follow the careers of these two lads … see if they do get into space in their own unique ways and meet up again… what a love story that’d be

  5. D. M. Bonanno

    Just read the story – love it. 🙂 Congrats!

  6. Clarion SD « A Little Imagination

    […] my agony over whether to even apply or not and the fallout from that and then finally my decision to apply to Clarion […]

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