The Class of 2008 with instructor Connie Willis
(I’m third from the left on the bottom row.)
Applications for the Clarion West Writer’s Workshop are due March 1st, 2013. I applied and was accepted to Clarion West in 2008 and I had a wonderful experience at the workshop. Critiques from classmates and instructors helped me to improve my fiction and to date I’m still working on ideas and concepts I developed at the workshop. Additionally, I had the unique experience of attending CW at the beginning of my graduate career, during the summer between the first and second year of my Ph.D. Working with eighteen other talented authors and hearing instructors discuss theories of creativity and authorship influenced the development of my dissertation project. I wouldn’t recommend CW for every grad student…the demands of graduate school mean you may not have as much time to work on fiction writing related to the workshop after the summer ends as other authors might. However, I do feel it could be an enriching experience for people at many stages of many different kinds of careers. At Emory, I taught several writing-intensive classes, and I was able to apply a lot of what I learned about teaching and critiquing writing at CW. My students appreciated that this made my approach to teaching writing unique and they particularly enjoyed conducting peer workshops using the “Clarion Method” of roundtable critique (as described in Kate Wilhelm’s Storyteller.) Basically, if you are serious about fiction writing — particularly with a science or fantasy focus — CW is an opportunity you should consider. I think it’s particularly appropriate for people who need a boost to be successful with their writing…perhaps if you’re getting a lot of “almost” responses from publishers or if you’re stalled in your development as a writer, but have the energy to commit to moving forward.
This year’s instructor lineup includes Elizabeth Hand, Neil Gaiman, Joe Hill, Margo Lanagan, Samuel R. Delany, and Ellen Datlow. If you’re not familair with the format of the workshop, each instructor will teach for one week. Participants will complete a piece of original writing for critique each week and read and critique the work of the seventeen other students. Applications are due March 1st. The application instructions are available on the CW website. Please note that the application asks for submitted writing samples to follow specific formatting guidelines….applications are sent to a cadre of volunteer readers and you’re much more likely to be seriously considered if your application is formatted in a manner that’s intelligible to the readers.