It has been a challenging couple of years. Not bad–challenging. Learning to take rejections and not let them impact my productivity is a big one. Learning to keep moving forward despite the light at the end being too faint to really see is another. But hey, keep trucking, because what’s the alternative? Giving up? Feh.
Despite being neither a superstitious person, nor a religious person, I often find myself offering up a little prayer before I check my phone in the morning. Please let the good thing happen, I think. I don’t even really know what the good thing is. And I’m fully aware that whatever the good thing turns out to be, it won’t really solve anything. There will still be more mental rubble-piles to climb, things to overcome, challenges challenges challenges.
Oh, but the good thing, it feels so good when you finally get it.
I am thrilled and still somewhat surprised to announce that I will be attending Clarion West this summer as a member of the class of 2015.
What is Clarion West?
Among other things, Clarion West puts on an intensive six-week residential workshop that does its best to turn baby speculative fiction writers into professional speculative fiction writers. It is taught by a different writer every week. Here’s this year’s faculty, of whom I am already terrified. Their job is to tear me apart, hooray!
Nothing can guarantee that you will go pro as a writer, as luck and determination are such enormous parts of the equation. But this is the place to get the tools. If I ever had a chance to do what I love, for real, with all of myself, then this is it.
They only take 18 people a year. It’s open to the entire English-speaking world. It is incredibly hard to get in. They swear they did not make a mistake in accepting me.
I will live with 17 other writers in a house near the UW campus, where we will spend basically all of our time writing, reading each others’ writing, critiquing, attending lectures, and going slightly mad.
The program runs from June 21st to August 1st.
I will be required to produce a short story every week. I currently produce a short story every couple of weeks while working full time and attending weekend agility trials, so this seems doable, but the downtime/thinking time/bathtime between writing sessions is a luxury that I won’t get. I wonder what that will do to me.
Ryan, Vesper and the cats will be on their own. Sorry, guys. Ryan’s being very brave about it. I hope nobody starves. I will probably get to see Ryan now and then, but I won’t, like, get to go home on weekends. I could, but from what I’ve heard there really isn’t time, the program is too intensive.
Does it cost money?
Oh sweet baby jesus yes it does. I haven’t heard back from the scholarship committee yet but Clarion isn’t cheap. For good reason–they house and feed you so you can focus entirely on the instructors and your craft. It’s not inexpensive to close out the rest of the world for six weeks.
If it was just six weeks of no paycheck a normal middle-class couple would probably be okay, but the last few years have been an asteroid field of unexpectedness. All sorts of exciting things have bounced off our savings, which were already depleted by our it-wasn’t-that-long-ago wedding, and were never that impressive to begin with. For a few terrible moments I really thought about saying no, because this is a financially irresponsible thing to do.
Absolutely nobody else agreed with me, though. Which is a relief. Because I think I might die of regret if I didn’t go.
I’m going to have to do some fundraising, which feels gauche and weird and awkward and isn’t something I’ve done. I was uncomfortable receiving wedding presents, so receiving presents for just being awesome? Oof. So uncomfortable. But people so far, even before the ask, have already started offering. Why? Because I just happen to live in a nexus of really amazing people, is why. I don’t know how I ended up here. I think it was on purpose? But seriously, it’s a great place to be. My people are the best people. I’m so fucking lucky.
So what now?
Well, first, I’m going to soak in this for a while. It still only feels sort-of real. Then, I’m going to invest in pants that look like pants but are actually pajamas, because if I’m going to write for six weeks I’m going to need more softpants.
I will be blogging my way towards Clarion West, especially the fundraising part, because I don’t want to use a crowdfunding site, because do I really need one? Can’t I just color in a thermometer thingy like in grade school? I’m going to do that one instead. So look for that.
Once I am at Clarion West, I hope to post here weekly. It may be brief. It may be incoherent. I will probably give myself a template so that it’s easy to just barf into. I doubt I’ll have a lot of creative juice left over after writing and critiquing 17 other stories and not sleeping and eating food that I didn’t cook myself and isn’t Asian. (LIFE IS SO HARD.) But there will be dispatches from the front lines so that you know I am not dead.
If you’re already inspired to help, my paypal is firstname.lastname@example.org. If you don’t like paypal, you can email me instead because there are so many wonderful options here in the future of 2015!
No I don’t accept Bitcoin but you’re so adorable for asking
holy fucking shit this is real and it’s happening. I am so fortunate, and so excited, and still only believe it’s real like one-third of the time. The acceptance itself is such major validation–they only take 18 people! Those 18 people have real, latent talent! Therefore I! Must have! Some sort! OF TALENT!–that I already feel like I don’t need my feet to get around, I can just float.