Wow, I didn’t realize that my musings on whether or not to apply to Clarion/Clarion West would stir up the pot so much. Heh. I guess it’s like writing anything, you never know when something will strike a chord or a nerve. (Some of this post is also in response to some private conversations, so don’t think I’m necessarily replying here to any one person, I’m not).
So, to clarify, because clearly some misunderstandings about what/why I’m debating applying/going.
First, for the people who’ve just found this blog and haven’t read any of my older posts where I try to explain my process/speed/goals etc… I recommend this post. And again the caveat, everything I say here applies only to me. It might resonate with others, but I’m just talking about my experiences, my thoughts, and my writing life as it applies to myself.
My last post was just me wondering about Clarion and if it is what I need right now in my writing life. That was it. I asked for experiences/thoughts from those who had gone (or even just applied, I’m always happy to hear other people’s reasons for things) so that I could figure out for myself what I want to do. I would never apply to Clarion without planning what might happen if I got in, that’s just silly to me. One, it would be a waste of the application fee if I decided not to go and got in, and two, it would be poor planning in general (it’s six weeks! Even self-employed as I am, taking six weeks off/away from home isn’t simple). So if I do apply, you’d better believe I’ll have sorted out how to afford it and if I want to go or not. Hence my wondering aloud about whether it is what I need right now (or really, almost a year from now).
And, frankly, I don’t think that Clarion is for everyone. It isn’t just a matter of being able to do the work (one story a week? Read the goals/speed post. I’m really not worried about the work load). I’ve talked to a double handful of people who’ve been through one of the Clarions now and while some rave about it, some don’t. And I don’t know if it is right for me. That’s all I’m debating. No value judgments here, just personal musings.
My reservations about applying/going: one, the round-robin critique style. I’ve done it, lots. I don’t really enjoy it anymore. I think, personally, that it is too easy to get hung up on minor things because you are “critiquing” and therefore have to find something wrong, and I think it is easy for a writer (especially a beginning writer) to try to take everyone’s suggestions and possibly re-write their story into mush. This has been my experience with round-robin style. Feedback is good (I have a couple groups of first readers, whom I treasure and love (when I don’t want to kill them) and should probably bake cookies for more often). Too much feedback just for the sake of having to say something, not so good. I’ve also got my editing cycle down to a science that works for me. It’s a quick cycle, and while I learn from feedback, I don’t re-write in the traditional sense anymore. Ever. If a story is so broken that I’d have to do a major edit, I start over. I’m a learn by doing sort, and doing for me is writing, not rewriting.
Second, six weeks is a huge time commitment. It’s also something I’d have to plan my writing goals around. I don’t write nearly as consistently when I’m not in my home space, so I’d have to try to adjust for that. I’m also an introvert, and social situations drain me, so that is also something for me to consider. While I’d be getting a story a week done at the least, as I said in my last post, I’d be experimenting a lot (after all, isn’t that what workshops are about? Stretching yourself?) and don’t know how much of that writing would be in the “do over” category. Next year my plan is to write four novels for e-books and four for traditional submission. Losing six weeks means a bit of a time crunch. It’s doable, but I’m lazy, remember? So I’d definitely need to plan (and being an introvert, honestly I’d probably lose more like eight weeks- the one before Clarion and the one after on recovery). Clarion/CW’s focus is on short fiction, and while I’m still writing some short fiction (goal is to keep 40-50 shorts out at a time, writing to replace the ones that sell), I’ve transitioned to novels because my goal is to make a living and novels are good for that (and I like writing them).
So yeah, those are my current thoughts. I know that I’d learn a lot and meet many interesting people if I applied/went. I don’t doubt that for many people, Clarion/CW is a great stepping stone in their writer journey and that the experience is amazing. These are things I’m considering and weighing against my other thoughts. Basically, it boils down to this:
Do I want to go to Clarion or Clarion West? Yes. Can I afford to go money-wise? Maybe (I could figure it out). Can I afford to go time-wise? Maybe (again, I could figure it out). Do I need to go in order to have a career as a writer? No. Is Clarion/CW the best use of my time and resources for my writing/career goals right now in my life? I don’t know. And that final question is all I’m trying to answer here.
Hopefully that clarifies things.
Now, to put down the blog (and Starcraft 2), and go finish this novel.
O Munde, hodie aliquid vincam!