If you’re thinking about investing in your writing as a science fiction and fantasy writer, Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop in San Diego is a good deal–and your application is due MARCH 1st. Six weeks of time with other writers like you, with six amazing published writers in your field. You and your work are taken seriously there. I encourage you to investigate the options at Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Workshop in San Diego.
You might recognize these two intrepid writers if you live in Whitehorse! Zeb and Santana Berryman have great talent. I’ve been privileged to have been working with them now for five years! And they keep surprising me.
I met them first when I offered a Saturday science fiction/fantasy creative writing class in October 2007. They were teens…in fact, I think Santana was eleven? Incredibly well-read in science fiction and fantasy, and horror and manga, etc., this brother and sister went on to spin some novels of their own. Both of them write a novel every September in the three-day novel contest, as well as the November Novel writing month, and short stories, their own novels, and a novella with me.
Now they’ve decided to spur on their shorter works by joining up with the Write-A-Thon happening through Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing Workshop. First link there will take you to the Write-A-Thon page–where YOU can help these writers by spurring them on! They are using their writing drive to help Clarion with their Fundraising drive. Folks can click on the “Support a Writer” and will be taken to this page. There, they can click on the different teams–and Zeb and Santana are hiding in the Team Bears Discover Fire–click on show members.
Or you can go directly to Zeb Berryman’s page here.
You can spur them on in their writing–as well as lead them to win an iPad–by pledging a bit of money per word or per story or per whatever their writing is divided into. It doesn’t have to be more than a dollar a story! And that money goes to develop scholarships for writers to come to Clarion for the summer.
Every year the workshop invites about 18 writers to come join them and gives them real science fiction and fantasy writers working in the field to be their mentors. Those writers get individualized attention for six weeks! Six weeks, a different writer every week.
These two writers are going to be great! I have every confidence in them. I believe one day, they too might enjoy Clarion. We three are raising money for that possibility–or the possibility for someone to recieve a scholarship for Clarion some year.
Look for them on that webpage–and then look for them soon in a bookstore!
Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Workshop has developed the Write-a-Thon to help YOU and to help THEM.
You might be in a place in your life where you haven’t been writing much, but you wish, wish, wish, that you could–or that you had the time. What we need, rarely, is the time—we need encouragement. The time will magically appear when we feel people in our life actually WANT us to write.
So Clarion has developed teams of writers to help you reach your writing goal—AND help Clarion reach their fundraising goals.
Here’s how it works:
1. You say to yourself, I give myself permission to write for six weeks as much as I can. I don’t have to take off from work, but I will find some time–with the help of my spouse, my significant other, my parents–to cordon off even a smidgen of time a day to write.
2. You sign up with Clarion Write-A-Thon by clicking on those words.
3. (from the Clarion write-a-thon website)
- First, sign up to write! Fill out as many of the fields as you can. It’s especially important to include a bio and excerpts. A link to your website and/or personal blog helps, too. Your name and a link to your new writer’s page will appear automatically on the Browse Writers page of the Write-a-Thon site.
- Be sure to upload a recent photo of yourself. A .jpg that is a maximum of 200 pixels in width is ideal. But our software can resize it for you if necessary.
- Post frequent updates everywhere. Refresh your Write-a-Thon writer’s page often with new excerpts. Post writing progress reports on your personal website, your blog, your Facebook page, and your Twitter feed. Make sure all of your efforts link to your Clarion Write-a-Thon writer’s page.
- Line up your sponsors. Contact friends, family and fans to let them know you’re raising money for Clarion while nurturing your writing life. Your writer page comes complete with personalized donation buttons to make it easy for your supporters. Feel awkward about asking? Here’s a model letter to use as a starting point.
- Participate as both a Writer and a Sponsor. When you support others, they’ll support you in return.
- Join a team and get a mentor. Once you have $20 in donations, you’ll have the option of joining a small group of eight Write-a-Thon writers. Each group is mentored by a Clarion Workshop instructor or graduate, ready and waiting with advice and encouragement. To join a team, wait for your emailed invitation, or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Get Write-a-Thon badges for your blog and your website.
- Remember, there are prizes! We’re giving away iTunes, Amazon, or B&N gift cards to our top earners, along with Write-a-Thon keepsakes. And each writer who brings in $250 or more gets a free story critique from a Clarion author!
- You can also earn Write-a-Thon merit badges. You can begin writing any time. But beginning on the June 24, the official start of the Write-a-Thon, we have a special treat for you. On your Write-a-Thon writer’s page, you’ll see a grid with a question mark in each square. You can earn a maximum of one merit point every 24 hours by clicking the “I WROTE TODAY” button that will soon appear near the grid. As your merit point total passes certain milestones, merit badges will appear in your grid. We’re keeping the formula secret, so you never know when a badge will appear or what it will be. It’s all part of the motivational fun. We’re also trusting you to be honest. Only click the button if you really did some writing!
- Sign up for the Clarion E-bulletin mailing list. It’s the best way to keep up with the latest Write-a-Thon news
See that part about “JOIN A TEAM”— that’s where I come in. I’ve volunteered to be a mentor–with advice and encouragement! My team is called TEAM BEARS DISCOVER FIRE after Terry Bisson’s story, “Bears Discover Fire.” You’re going to discover fire in this group–as I’ll encourage you to write every day. I’ll give prompts for those who want them, and encouraging little notes as we go along. You’ll be in a group of people just like you who are pushing themselves for six weeks! It’s just six weeks. I wonder what YOU could do in six weeks if you had the encouragement from family and friends to do a little writing.
MY goal is to churn out six stories—they’re trunk stories, for the most part, but I need to get them finished. And Clarion is the way to do it!
You might have a book that needs more chapters. You might have some stories that need to get out. You might have an idea that needs a story!
This Write-a-Thon is Write Up Your Alley.
Join my team and light the fire you need to get some stories and writing done.
BEARS! Go light that fire!
[Visit the TEAM BEARS DISCOVER FIRE on WordPress and see what we’re up to!]
I was sad to hear of the passing of Ray Bradbury, a giant in my life. He was 91, so he lived a good long life, and he gave us amazing writing like Something Wicked This Way Comes and Fahrenheit 451. But I will always remember him for his collections of short stories, The Illustrated Man, Martian Chronicles, R is for Rocket, S is for Space, Medicine for Melancholy, and others. They fueled my imagination–as I’m sure they did many people. But I can truthfully say that Ray Bradbury–with his lyrical writing, his vivid description and interesting stories–shaped me as a writer. I heard he was one of those bridge writers–the ones that transcended genre. But that didn’t matter. What mattered was that he took me places, expanded my imagination, urged me to tell stories.
We met once.
I was in Lubbock, working, I think, on my last year at a degree at Wayland Baptist University. It was 1992. Ray was speaking at a Young Author’s conference, but also as a public speaker. I was there to meet my hero. I brought a copy of Martian Chronicles with me, and the picture of him in the paper.
He talked about his time working for the Smithsonian, designing famous garages of inventors; his work on the Moby Dick screenplay for John Huston. He didn’t talk much about making science fiction… but I was rapt nonetheless. This man had produced so much. His imagination was so vivid.
Afterwards, there was of course a line up to get signatures. Ray sat behind a small table, and I worked my way up to him. While I was still a couple of people away, a woman came out of nowhere and jumped the line–with a stack of ten books, all open to the front page. These she plunked down in front of Ray, saying “These won’t take you but a minute.” Then she grabbed him by the shoulders and turned him sideways so her daughter could snap a picture. I think Ray was a bit miffed–a whole line of people trailed out in front of him.
After quickly signing all her books, while she babbled, he turned back to the line with a huge amount of graciousness for our patience. When I got up there, I put my newspaper and book in front of him, and said, “You’re the reason I started writing.”
He looked up. “Are you sending stuff out?”
“Well, I’m trying to…I mean…” I stammered. I wasn’t a very confident writer in 1992, with no sales to my name, but thirty bad stories completed and sitting around somewhere.
“You have to send them out. Send one out a week. That’s what I did. I wrote one story a week–started on Sunday and mailed it on Saturday. I did this for years. That way I had 52 stories in the mail and some of them had to sell!”
He laughed. He shook my hand. I assured him I would do that. I didn’t keep that promise. I went on to college, studied writing, but never writing one story a week–until I got to Clarion Writing Workshop and had to write one story a week–(I got five out of six weeks!)
That day back in 1992 I felt blessed by Ray Bradbury. My hero took time with me, gave me advice. Perhaps he was fueled by the woman who had taken the time he wanted to give us–maybe he felt an extra special need to be encouraging to me. I don’t know, but I’ll never forget it.
Bless you, Ray Bradbury. Bless you for blessing me that day. And bless you for all the wonderful stories and novels and essays you left us. And how you crafted magic out of an ordinary day.
June 26 to August 6, 2011
Clarion is widely recognized as a premier training ground for aspiring writers of fantasy and science fiction short stories.
The 2011 writers in residence are
Nina Kiriki Hoffman John Scalzi
Elizabeth Bear David Anthony Durham
John Kessel Kij Johnson
Since its inception in 1968, Clarion has been known as the “boot camp” for writers of speculative fiction. Each year 18-20 students, ranging in age from late teens to those in mid-career, are selected from applicants who have the potential for highly successful writing careers. Students are expected to write several new short stories during the six-week workshop, and to give and receive constructive criticism. Instructors and students reside together in campus apartments throughout the intensive six-week program.
The application period for the 2011 workshop is December 1 – March 1. Applicants must submit two short stories with their application. Scholarships are available. Additional information can be found at http://clarion.ucsd.edu.
See my Page on CLARION 2011 for more info on what a Clarion can do for you.
Personally, I have to say that the chance to work with Kij Johnson would be enough to make me put on a disguise and go again, though, like Narnia, former Clarion grads can’t go home again…. Kij’s story, “26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss” won the World Fantasy award and was on the final ballot for both the Nebula and the Hugo. It’s an AMAZING story and just the kind of story I hope to write when I grow up.
The Clarion Foundation (parent of Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Workshop) has a wonderful blog. Douglas Cohen, an editor from Realms of Fantasy, recently wrote a guest post there talking about the view from Realms of Fantasy, from its long run in the industry, including its two recent revivals with new publishers. There is some great insight here for those who are submitting stories and poems (yes, they have started publishing poems). Here’s just a snippet, but the rest you can read on the Clarion blog.
1) Fantasy is a broad genre, and it’s yet to stop expanding. In addition to writers, editors are playing a crucial role in defining what fantasy is. I’ve read a number of stories in our pages that I consider science fiction. Obviously Shawna felt otherwise, or at least saw enough fantasy-related elements to justify publishing these tales in RoF. Too often, I hear about authors rejecting themselves from certain markets because their stories are “not a good fit.” Now, if you’re writing a hard science fiction piece in the vein of Gregory Benford or Isaac Asimov, it’s true that your story most likely isn’t right for us. But if there is an element that could be considered fantastical in your sf story, who knows? We just might buy it. Did you know John Joseph Adam’s recent dystopian sf reprint anthology has a story from RoF in there? Did you know we published a story with robots that were clearly inspired by Transformers? Did you know we had a story about molecule memory that was reprinted in Rich Horton’s Science Fiction, Best of the Year, 2008? I could go on. The point—and this is something to keep in mind for all markets—is that it’s not your job to reject your stories for our magazines. It sounds like a basic thing, but too often I see authors—including experienced ones—overanalyzing their prospective writing markets. This is not a phenomenon unique to RoF. It’s good to know your markets, because that might help you land a sale sooner rather than later. But don’t be the editor for them. I can’t stress this enough. When in doubt, submit. Let us decide what’s right for the magazine. The worst that happens is that we say no. To borrow (and probably mangle) a phrase from John W. Campbell: “How dare you reject your story for my magazine?”
2) Shawna and I have different tastes. Yes, there is definite overlap, and these similarities (and the differences for that matter) are why we work well together. But I hear too many authors saying things like, “Realms of Fantasy is not a market for sword & sorcery.” Ahem. I love sword & sorcery. I also unquestionably enjoy this sub-genre more than Shawna does, meaning I’m likelier to enjoy an S&S tale than she is. But since I’ve been with the magazine, we’re publishing more in this area than we ever have before. Not an overwhelming amount, but definitely more. The point is that magazines change over time. Too many people stop reading a certain venue for whatever reason, and five or ten years later, when they’re telling you their problems with this magazine, what they’re saying is no longer relevant. Again, I see this happen with experienced writers too, so I feel I should mention it here. So not only should you never reject yourself, but it’s also a terrible idea letting others do your market research for you. Sharing ideas is fine, but make sure your friends are up to date on what they’re saying. If the information is coming secondhand, make sure it’s coming from a reliable source.
There are eight more points Mr. Cohen makes–equally insightful. It behooves you (I like ‘behooves’) to run over there and check them out. Happy submitting.
Mr. Cohen also makes a strong point about Clarion graduates supplying the magazine with quality stuff. See that top name on the February cover of Realms of Fantasy—Desirina Boskovich? One of my Clarion buddies. Awesome, Desirina!
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.