I signed up for the Clarion Write-A-Thon, a fundraiser that puts a whole bunch of writers into a sensory deprivation tank while they write for six weeks.
Oh wait, there’s no sensory deprivation tank….
But still, the writers are joining together to keep Clarion San Diego alive and well for years to come by raising money to provide scholarships. I’ve already written a whole essay about how life-changing my Clarion experience was. I know it has been for my whole group of cohort writers–all 18 of them.
The Link to My Writer’s Page lets you know what I’ll be doing for six weeks, and encourages you to donate a bit of money–maybe per day, per word, or just a small sum ($20, $50, $100) in total. All proceeds go to Clarion for scholarships, helping more people like me get to attend. Most of us who attend a six week workshop make sacrifices to be there, and certainly the costs can be high to spend six weeks anywhere in the world (even my apartment is $1050 just in rent for six weeks), but the benefit each student receives from that time is ginormous.
Each Student gets:
- individual instruction from 6 major writers in the field
- connections to agents, publishers, editors
- advice on how to create a writerly business
- a cohort, band of writers that encourages during the long haul
- a lifetime of mentoring
- six weeks of time free to write, concentrate on their art
It’s very difficult to shave off time for writing, and this six weeks is a huge jumpstart. I have sold 4 out of the 5 stories I wrote for Clarion, and frequently I take out that notebook that I kept during Clarion to record what the teachers/writers said, and I go through it again. You can’t GET this kind of instruction anywhere else but with publishing writers, established in their fields.
If you have trouble imagining what this would be like (maybe you don’t write science fiction), imagine a workshop of six weeks where each week you got to spend with these people: Margaret Atwood, Michael Chabon, John Updike, John Irving, Kazuo Ishiguro and Alice Munro. And then editors from Harper Collins, Random House, etc came by to chat with you and take your pitches, and agents came by, and you went to a giant convention where all the big writers hung out. You got to eat and drink with people who were doing your career— like job-shadowing, except they became your friends–for SIX WEEKS. It’s just like that but with the big names of Science Fiction and Fantasy!
In the Golden Age of Science Fiction, a writer learned by joining up with a pulp magazine and writing stories every week to push into those magazines–they trained with writers around them, doing the same thing, encouraging each other.
Nowadays, we’re all trying to get stories into those “pulp” magazines, Asimov’s, Fantasy and Science Fiction, Realms of Fantasy–but we’re not in a room full of other writers writing together–we’re strung out across the world. The only places we get that kind of training are these workshops–they stand in for the kind of on-the-job writing/training you would get at a magazine. The intensity is the same. I think the quality is higher. But without Clarions, writers wouldn’t have that avenue for training, and many who might not figure out how to write for the magazines, or their novels by osmosis, wouldn’t get published.
For the six weeks, I will be working on chapters of my first novel, chapters a publisher is expecting and has asked for.
Please consider donating even a small amount to the cause of helping writers in the Science Fiction and Fantasy field. We brought you space shuttles and cell phones, fax machines and computers, rockets and really great entertainment.
If you talked on your cell phone today, hug a science fiction writer for imagining it!
And consider a small donation to the workshop that helps the visionaries think up such an interesting future.