Clarion San Diego accepting applications till March 1st

If you want to write science fiction and fantasy there is no better crucible and proving ground, classroom and community, than Clarion San Diego.  I have already written a whole page on it, and updated the writers for 2010.  It looks to be awesome.  You have about six weeks to turn in applications to go.  If you want a career in writing science fiction and fantasy, this is the right investment.  After this, you don’t have to invest in another writer’s workshop for more… this is all you need.  The writers are some you know and some you might not yet:  Samuel R. Delany, George R.R. Martin, Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, Delia Sherman and Dale Bailey.  The opportunities you get to move your work around and let people see it are great.  

See more information here.

Go to their website here. 

That’s us in the picture, on the bluffs outside La Jolla, near San Diego.  That’s me pointing to the future.  I say, “Hey, look, I can see a whole group of published writers!”  And then someone says, “Out to sea, huh?”  Okay, we didn’t say that.  But these people became some of my closest friends.  

  I seem to be doing more pointing.  I do that a lot.  People just stare at me like I’m one of those people.  

Clarion solidified my “calling”–not only because everyone sacrificed to get there, but because we were taken seriously.  I wrote a lot and wrote intensely.  I was challenged.  Wow, was I challenged.  And I experienced some great moments of my life.  I would love to relive this again–and really relish it this time.  You get so busy writing you sometimes forget.  

If you think it’s too much, it will be.  But I took a third of everything I had and put into this workshop financially, and I wasn’t the only one.  I love where it brought me, and where it let me stay for six weeks, and where it’s carrying me in the future.  I think you will too.  

There are a lot of workshops–Odyssey, Clarion West, etc—but I think this one is the best.  And if you respect the 18 other students there, you will get the most out of the workshop.  If you feel defensive about your work before you go, you might not get as much out of the workshop.  Because certainly the work will be up for critique–but not you.  You are up for amazing moments and good, solid career information. 

Go.  You’ll be glad you did.  

Clarion 2009 open for submission Jan 2-Mar 1

Announcing the

2009 Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop

@ UC San Diego

June 28 to August 8, 2009

The Clarion Workshop is widely recognized as the premier training ground for aspiring writers of fantasy and science fiction short stories. Many graduates have become well-known writers, and a large number have won major awards. Instructors are among the most respected writers and editors working in the field today. The 2009 writers in residence are Holly Black, Larissa Lai, Robert Crais, Kim Stanley Robinson, Elizabeth Hand, and Paul Park. The six-week workshop is held on the beautiful beachside campus of the University of California at San Diego .

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 2009 workshop is January 2 – March 1. Applicants must submit two short stories with their application. Scholarships are available. Additional information can be found here.

For my testimonial, click on Clarion Page above.

When Writers Come Together

Perhaps it was my nostalgia for Clarion, or maybe it was the weekend I had in Calgary that all the science fiction writers had their weekend of writing.  All I know is that for two and a half hours, our group wrote.  We set up in the library and worked on our laptops and I was happy.

It’s funny, the communal aspects of writing.  Why was I so excited to do this?  Why was it so much fun to be in a room writing with others?  Why is it so hard sometimes doing this alone?

Because I’m a social creature perhaps.  Being by myself is very very difficult—professions that make me have to be away from people are hard on me socially.  But I loved having them in the room, so I could do both at once.  I’m suggesting we do these on a regular basis–so once a month right now, but maybe more later….

Anyway, it was good to do.  I worked on a short story, though it took a turn I’ve decided to abandon–too dark for me.  I got the willies just writing about it and it overpowered my story….

Still, the exercise is good–and I plan on doing this when I offer my novel writing course in the fall.

Nostalgia, thy name is Clarion

It was this time last year when I had the greatest experience of my science fiction writing life. I’m talking Clarion’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Workshop, held in San Diego (really La Jolla) at UCSD (2007).

I was in the middle of a move out of the country—a summer I had little money to spare–but I threw a quarter of what I had into this workshop, in hopes of learning new technique, honing my writing skills and re-invigorating my desire to write science fiction and fantasy. I had no idea what I was in for…

It was 6 weeks of writing–completely devoted to writing and learning from 18 other writers like myself, who had come to pick up skills too, and from 6 writing teachers, all published writers in their fields: Greg Frost, Jeff and Ann Vandermeer (the editor of Weird Tales), Karen Joy Fowler, Cory Doctorow, Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman. We were visited by Stan Robinson, Vernor Vinge, and got to go to the ComiCon held in San Diego.

The core part of it –despite all the superheroes of writing around us–was the group of us, living and writing together in the dorms at UCSD. It was six weeks of hard work, but I look back and I think it was the best work I have ever had—creating. It was electric. Everyone was creating fantastic stories. I’m serious. People were on a level I have never been around–and they were pumping out stories, and what was great about it and allowed me to keep my head up above water, is that everyone else had rough stories too—we were at the same level, AND we were interested in each others ideas (not at all the competitive nature of grad school–colleagues actually cared about your success–I saw no jealousy.). And we learned from each other.

We also bonded as a family. We drank blueberry beer, and badly colored Vitamin water, we visited a haunted tree at night, we walked to the beach, we had squirt gun wars, drew mystic chalk circles on the sidewalk, we lived and breathed science fiction and fantasy writing, we lived a dream for six weeks, really….

I don’t know if I will ever have an experience like that in my life again. But it was beautiful, and taught me a great deal. Some of it I’m still sifting through. Some of it I absorbed and don’t know I gained it when I did…other stuff I can quote to you.

If you ever have a chance to go to Clarion (and I favor San Diego, though Clarion West is probably good, and other workshops have good things too, I’m sure) then scrimp, save, get your significant other’s permission to be encamped along these hills of light, where the joy of writing science fiction and fantasy is shared by 18 other people, and your teachers, where you are encouraged to write. Where others will look at your stuff with honesty and say, “This part here is miracle. This part here is crapola.” You will not regret it–though you have sold all you have, buy Clarion….

I can tell you truthfully, that I still talk to Clarion folks (not as much as I want) and still visit when I can, though once you get to the outer boonies of the Yukon it is hard. And call. And everyone is still writing and publishing.

Often I go back to that time and think now, i wish i had six weeks and 18 people breathing down my neck! Try it out for yourself.