Clarion West Class of 2012


I hear from the wonderful Neile Graham that acceptances have gone out to the Clarion West Class of 2012.

This year’s instructor lineup looks amazing: Mary RosenblumHiromi GotoGeorge R.R. MartinConnie WillisKelly Link and Gavin Grant, and Chuck Palahniuk.

This time last year, when I received my Class of 2011 acceptance, my heart was split between maniacal glee and total apprehension. And I’m sure everyone in this year’s crew is feeling the same way.

So if any of them happen to wander onto this humble blog, (or for that matter, any of the Clarion UCSD crew, to whom I also extend my greetz) I’ve got just 3 tips for them…

1. Start getting your Real Life in order, so that you can leave it for 6 weeks in the summertime.

2. Read books by your instructors. Don’t just look at their novels, either; since CW is focused on short fiction, try to read their short stories too. Try to get a feeling for the specific craft questions you want to ask each instructor. (However, there’s no need to go overboard, and if you don’t have time to do this, don’t stress out about it.)

3. If you have a certain Story I Know I Have To Write at Clarion West, and it requires research beforehand, get some of that out of the way. You’ll have plenty of time to write at CW, but probably not enough time to write and do research, especially if you like to write historical fiction or hard SF. By preparing your material, you’ll be in a good position to actually execute the story when you get to Seattle.

For instance, I went into CW knowing I wanted to write a story about using the Greek Magical Papyri to contact Confederate ghosts who inhabit a specific place in Chicago. So I spent some time beforehand researching.

However, don’t actually write the story beforehand!!! Even in the first week of the workshop your ‘game’ will improve so much that pre-workshop material won’t really represent your current abilities.

Welcome to the CW family, guys. You’re going to have an amazing summer.

Sure, writing 5-6 short stories in 6 weeks will be a bit stressful too… but, to quote Brotips,

Also, for anyone who didn’t get in this year, or wants to attend a Clarion or a Clarion-style program sometime in the future, here are some things you can do in the meantime:

1. Keep writing what you want to write, and keep reading a wide variety of material

2. Join an online critique group like

3. Don’t forget to apply next year!

2 Responses to “Clarion West Class of 2012”

  1. This is some great advice! 🙂 I would add to #2 that if you do think of specific craft questions you’d like to ask an instructor, write them down in a word file on the computer you’ll be taking. Not on a scrap of paper you’ll lose or forget to pack. You may think you’ll remember, but trust me, brain fatigue and maybe some nervousness at talking one on one with a favorite author will kick in at least once during Clarion West.

  2. I’m so jealous. I wish there was some way to swing six weeks away from life-as-usual to hit Clarion. I’ve heard amazing things.

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