clarion

CALLING ALL WRITERS...

Lots of you out there want to be better writers. The Clarion SF Workshop is the oldest and best thing of its kind: 6 Weeks of intensive writing and learning. It’s basically boot camp for beginning writers. It’s June 23-August 3rd, in two different locations. It’s taught by legendary and awesome writers. And, this year, me.

Clarion (in San Diego) has Andy Duncan, Nalo Hopkinson, Cory Doctorow, Robert Crais, Karen Joy Fowler, and Kelly Link teaching this year. Clarion West (in Seattle) has Elizabeth Hand, Neil Gaiman (me), Joe Hill, Margo Lanagan, Samuel R. Delany, and Ellen Datlow.

They are accepting applications until March 1st. They offer scholarships. You need  to submit some of your writing, and you need to be able to cope with 6 weeks of living with 18 people and writing a story a week, and you need to be willing to learn.

Clarion’s website is http://clarion.ucsd.edu.

Clarion West is http://www.clarionwest.org/

Support the Octavia Butler Memorial Scholarship

Want to support more writers like Octavia Butler? Philadelphia Printworks will donate a portion of the proceeds for this shirt to the Carl Brandon Society’s Octavia Butler Scholarship for Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers’ Workshops in Seattle and at UCSD. 

You can still get Bloodchildren until June 22, 2013. All of the proceeds for your donation go to the scholarship.http://bookviewcafe.com/bookstore/book/bloodchildren/
Give $8.01, get a free book before it’s gone! We’ll be reading excerpts in her honor on her birthday: Octavia Butler Birthday Celebration/Visit Octavia Butler

“Beware:
Ignorance 
Protects itself.
Ignorance
Promotes suspicion.
Suspicion
Engenders fear.
Fear quails,
Irrational and blind,
Or fear looms,
Defiant and closed.
Blind, closed,
Suspicious, afraid,
Ignorance
Protects itself,
And protected,
Ignorance grows.”
-Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Talents

http://www.philadelphiaprintworks.com/collections/shirts/products/octavia-butler

scribbleowl asked:

I'm disappointed in you, Mr. Gaiman. This Clarion West business smacks of elitism of the worst kind. If my writing isn't good enough to get me accepted to this program, or if I don't have the time to spare or the money to spend, does that mean I'm suddenly not a serious writer? Having quit my job to finish my novel, it's disheartening to see all this talk about "serious" writers associated with a program I'd never be able to get into because I don't have that sort of privilege.

Obviously, the answer to your somewhat grumpy rhetorical questions is “No”. You’re a serious writer if you decide you’re a serious writer, you’re definitely a serious writer if you quit your job to finish your novel,  particularly if you write well and write hard and give it your all. And then keep writing, when the novel’s done.

Writers don’t need Clarion. I never attended a Clarion, although I grew up reading about them - I remember Harlan Ellison talking a lot about Clarions in Again, Dangerous Visions, and Clarion seemed both inspirational and scary then. Most of the writers I know didn’t attend a Clarion. It’s great for squeezing a year or two of writing and learning and growing into six weeks, but it’s certainly not for everyone.

Having taught one Clarion, it certainly didn’t seem elitist, and definitely not “of the worst kind”: many, if not most, of the students were on scholarships of one sort of another (there are a LOT of different Clarion Scholarships) and all of them were making sacrifices in order to be there. The money goes toward 6 weeks of room and full board, paying six visiting writers and keeping the programs going.

The writers who were there were doing it to help give something back: trust me, the paycheck is not large enough to tempt me or George R R Martin or Cory Doctorow into giving up a week of writing.

And attending a Clarion as a student is absolutely no guarantee of success. “How do you know which ones of us will make it?” one of my students asked me, my first day at Clarion. 

“The ones who keep writing when this is over will make it,” I said. 

That was in 2008. And it’s proved pretty much true.

And you don’t need a Clarion to know that. Some writers really like writers’ groups, some don’t; some writers are happiest alone and typing and would find something like a Clarion hellish; and any writer who is going to make it is going to make it, Clarion or not.

Keep writing. Good luck with your novel. And even more luck with the one after that…

Clarion 2012 writing advice

Let’s try to get this thing started up again with some quick links and question-answering. I just found this great roundup of unattributed advice on writing from the Clarion Writing Workshop, much of which is invented-world-related. Some relevant excerpts:

“In-cluing, AKA Heinleining, is when you don’t infodump, you just show the tech or whatever working.”

“When we don’t understand what’s happening, or the world we’re reading, we fill in the blanks from what we already know—some other fictional world that seems pretty close. This can be dangerous, so you have to give people enough information to convince them otherwise.”

“A nice way to make me “buy” complex technology and a rich world is to just give me a great character whose dilemma shapes and filters the world, and focus on that.”