The Clarion Writing Workshop was one of the most powerful experiences I’ve had. A lot of it was explicitly positive, some of it was positive eventually (or may still be gestating) but was really hard at the time or for the months … *ahem* years … after.
Both the Clarion Writers workshops http://clarion.ucsd.edu/ and http://www.clarionwest.org/ are now taking applications. One of my instructors, Jim Kelly asks, “How about sharing five things you learned at Clarion?”
- There’s a fine line between pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and pushing yourself to write stuff that doesn’t excite you.
- Great writing has energy. Sure, get the mechanics down, but in the end it’s theme and emotion that drive the most powerful stories.
- Always be innovating. Every story start is sexy and fun and full of new relationship energy, full of riffing and whatever clever thing comes out of the id, but then the plotting and rewriting can feel like a drudge. That’s the time to bring the innovative mindset to finding connections and problem-solving. We can choose to be clever in every part of the writing process.
- Put as much work into your life as your writing. Yes, most of us need to lock ourselves away to learn the craft and find our voice, but it’s equally important to learn how to present and interact with each other. Skillful social awareness can help our career just as much as excellent prose.
- Writing is not a competition. Someone else’s genius doesn’t make you less genius. We analyze each other’s fiction so we see what works and doesn’t, both to point out to others and for ourselves. When this turns into a wash of negativity, we’re not helping anyone. The more we support each other as writer’s the stronger we all become.
If you write and you want to see what you are capable of, Clarion is well worth the time and money.