You Don’t Have to Attend Clarion to Be a Real Writer

But it helps.

For those not in the know, the Clarion and Clarion West Writers’ Workshops are intensive six-week residential programs where aspiring, semi-professional, and early-career professional writers are exposed to and connected with accomplished working professionals in the speculative fiction field. The focus is on writing short fiction, and critiquing it (building a less-shitty first draft, if you will). But as much as that, it’s about learning what it is to be a professional or at least serious writer, both in terms of lifestyle and in terms of the business of speculative fiction and the people and standards within it. I have, for many years, described it as a provisional membership in the kool-kids club (please note the tongue planted firmly in cheek).

Both are currently accepting applications.

As you’ve likely guessed, or knew already, I attended Clarion in 2010. It was, in many ways, a watershed experience. I met and studied under some of my personal heroes. I made friends I expect to keep for the rest of my life (many of whom have gone on to do amazing things). I got the aforementioned provisional membership in the kool-kids club. But more than anything, I had the incredible privilege and luxury of six whole weeks where writing, critiquing, and talking about writing and critiquing with seventeen peers and six bad-ass instructors was all I had to do and to worry about. For someone who was insistent on toiling away in solitude and obscurity until he applied on a whim six months after his mother died, it was a life-changing event.

Then, today, this happened:


And, this being the internet, outrage ensued. Continue reading “You Don’t Have to Attend Clarion to Be a Real Writer”