The Clarion Writer’s Workshop is pretty much the awesomest science fiction/fantasy/horror writing program in the known universe. My all-time hero Octavia Butler says it was “the most valuable help I received with my writing.” Other amazing graduates include Ted Chiang, Tobias S. Buckell, Cory Doctorow, Kim Stanley Robinson, Bruce Sterling, and Jeff Vandermeer.
And, pretty soon, me.
I’m really excited to announce that I was accepted into the 2012 cadre, and next week I’m heading out to San Diego for six weeks of up-close-and-personal time with my very talented instructors and fellow classmates. I’m ridiculously grateful to my comrades at Picture the Homeless for covering me while I take a sabbatical for all that time, and to the Clarion Foundation and the New York Science Fiction Society (aka The Lunarians) for financial support, including the Donald A. and Elsie B. Wollheim Memorial Scholarship.
AND we’ve been given day passes by the wonderful folks at San Diego Comic-Con, which for a nerd like me would be pretty frakking cool even if it wasn’t bracketed by weeks and weeks of amazing sci-fi writing training.
Cory Doctorow said “I’m the writer I am today because of my Clarion experiences. There isn’t a day that’s gone by in the past 15 years that I haven’t thought of some bit of wisdom I gleaned during my six weeks.”
I’ll admit that there’s something a little terrifying about a program referred to as “boot camp for science fiction writers” (I mean, boot camp is terrifying in any context, conjuring up Full-Metal-Jacket-style imagery of ferocious barking drill sergeants and sensitive boys driven to murder-suicide). But I’ve had a job since I was 12, and I’ve never in my entire writing career been able to take more than a week off of work to focus on a project - my writing time is always hard-won through the sacrifice of sleep or social life - and I’ve never had any instructors besides the great writers I’m privileged to call my friends, who give me feedback and support. So this is sort of a transformative moment in my writing career. And while I’d love to think I’ll return from it as a fully-realized Avatar of brilliant amazing science-fiction writing, who will immediately write and publish tons of brilliant shit and restore balance to the world, I know this is just one more piece of the endless apprenticeship that is any writer’s career.
I won’t be going near Facebook. I’ll do very little email. I might blog here and there, but probably not stuff that’s directly related to the workshop. So if it seems like I’ve dropped off the face of the earth, hey, that’s not a bad idea for a science fiction story, but it ain’t the truth. I’m just cloistered.
[For folks who are thinking about Clarion for themselves in the future, a good way to start prepping might be the upcoming CLARION WRITE-A-THON, which raises funds to pay for scholarships. ]