I knew Clarion West would be a good experience, and I knew it would be impactful, and I was expecting it to be some of the craziest and weirdest and hardest fun and work of my life. All true. But more intense. Harder. More fun, more work. Way weirder. I don’t feel like the same person, even though I know at my core I am. I’ve mutated. Leveled up. Evolved.
I wrote things I didn’t expect to write. I critiqued better than I thought I could. I learned more than I think I even realize. It was absolutely, totally worth it.
Six weeks ago if you’d asked me what I do I would have told you my day job, the thing I get paid for. That’s not true anymore. My most profound change is I no longer question who I am or what I’m doing. I’m a writer. Nobody who succeeds in this type of workshop is anything but a writer. Whether I stay one is up to me, but for the last few months there was no questioning it. Now I just have to keep going, keep looking up, and keep my priorities straight.
For vast moments since I left that house I am heartbroken by the absence of my classmates. It is profoundly bittersweet. I have friends around the world, amazing people. But they no longer live down the hall from me; I don’t get to have coffee with them every morning, or hear them singing or playing music as I go about my day. I miss that deeply. I didn’t think I would connect with that as much as I did.
I am so tremendously grateful that I had this experience. I still can’t believe I was so lucky: lucky enough to get in, lucky I was in a place in my life that I could accept the spot, lucky I had friends and family to help me raise the money to go, lucky to land with the class I did. I don’t know who to thank or how to start. The only thing I can think of to do to show how deeply I have been moved and changed by this experience is to work my goddamn tail off, to write like I’ll die next year, to sink my heart into my writing and make good art even when it feels like I don’t have a free moment in the day.
I can at least do that.