A year. One year. Oh, how much a year can change. At around this point last year I thousands of miles away, in a gigantic house full of warm and amazing people I was only just getting to know, about to embark on an adventure I still haven’t properly managed to process in my head.
Clarion is one of those epoch-making experiences, I think, whose significance only becomes clear after you’ve passed through it. While you’re there it’s hyper-real, hyper-focused: Read those stories before class. Finish those words by today. Do your laundry before you run out of clothes. Six weeks on I left Seattle not knowing if I’d gotten any better at writing. Mostly I was just sad it was over, and sad at the idea that it might be a very long time before all my newfound friends and I would be together again.
Only now, after a year, have I begin to realise the impact the workshop has had on me. I’m more confident as a writer – did I not finish six stories in six weeks? I aim higher – I know I’m capable of writing better stories. I’m a better reader, critic, beta reader – workshopping 100+ short stories in slightly over a month will do that to you.
Since I’ve graduated from Clarion West I’ve sold two stories to pro markets – one came out in Strange Horizons this week and one will be in Crossed Genres next month (for their flash fiction issue). A year ago this would have been a pipe dream.
As a class, my Clarion West cohort has been responsible for over forty stories, published and forthcoming, since the workshop ended. Resident thing-gatherer and cheesestrawmaker Hel has listed them out on this page. Fantastic, isn’t it?
So. You see. Clarion West has done many good things. It bears fruit, and the harvest is bountiful. I would love for it to encourage the flowering of emerging writers for many, many years to come.
I had help in getting to Clarion West. So did many of my classmates. Plane tickets are expensive and students from all over and all sorts of background get accepted into the workshop. Grant money has to come from somewhere, food and accommodation aren’t cheap, and there are instructor fees, and a dozen other things — the bottom line is, Clarion West is a non-profit organisation running a big, high-quality workshop every year, and relies on the generosity of donors to continue running the workshop.
So this is my plug for the Clarion West Write-A-Thon, their annual fundraising drive.
For the past ten years a community of writers have spent six weeks writing, editing and submitting stories concurrent with the workshop, and sponsors donate money to Clarion West as they do so. I’ve signed up for the Write-A-Thon myself, and hope to revise the last of my workshop stories and write two new ones.
But more than asking for sponsorship during the Write-A-Thon, I want to encourage people to sign up for it.
The thing is, Clarion West has been offered a funding challenge: If 350 people sign up for the Write-A-Thon, they get US$2,000 in funding, straight up. That can pay for more than half of a student’s fees!
Guys, it’s really that simple. Even if you don’t manage to write a single word, or get a single cent in donations, just by signing up you’re already helping the workshop! It literally takes two minutes to sign up. It is so easy.
And who knows, with the encouragement and comradeship of dozens of folk plugging away with you, you might even write your next masterpiece!