Clarion Submission Period Open

Most of you know that next year I will be teaching a week at Clarion, the intensive six-week science fiction and fantasy workshop, along with Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Elizabeth Bear, David Anthony Durham, John Kessel and Kij Johnson. If you want to be one of those who gets to drink from our veritable firehose of speculative fiction knowledge, now is the time to get your applications in order: The submission period for Clarion 2011 is now open, and runs through March 1, 2011.

What do you need to apply? From the Clarion site:

[Y]ou must submit a workshop application form,  two short stories, a scholarship application (if applicable), and the application fee. All are submitted online using a registration service called RegOnline.

The application form asks for contact information, a brief summary of your educational background, and a few details about your writing habits and goals. You may submit a scholarship  application along with your workshop application if you wish.

Admission to the workshop is based on the promise of the applicant’s writing at its present stage. In addition to the application you must submit two complete short stories, each between 2,500 words and 6,000 words in length. The stories should represent your best fiction work to date.  Although skills acquired or developed at Clarion are useful in other kinds of writing, Clarion is a short-story writing workshop, so please do not send screenplays, poetry, essays, or portions of a novel.

Other questions you might have are probably covered in the Application FAQ.

There are 18 spots, and Clarion is highly competitive, so the part about your submission representing your best work to date isn’t just there for show. Get in there and wow ’em, and hopefully I’ll see you in San Diego this summer.

28 Comments on “Clarion Submission Period Open”

  1. 18 people are chosen to learn the secrets of the craft. This in the second decade of the 21st Century, in an era of internet and YouTube lectures. I have a better idea: why not hold the workshop online and allow more than 18 people to participate? Something more cutting edge is needed here, something more visionary than a medieval model of tutoring a handful.

  2. Critic:

    “I have a better idea: why not hold the workshop online and allow more than 18 people to participate?”

    It’s not a better idea, in fact. It’s a different idea.

    Also, of course, if you want such an online workshop, get to making it.

  3. Critic,

    You would also have a problem with giving each “attendee” the direct attention Clarion does. I’m not sure, not being that talented, but I assume that part of the workshop is to have the lucky-18 not only listen to the leaders, but also write and get direct feedback from them. That’s very hard to do with a large number of participants.

  4. My point is that Clarion seeks to imitate the institution of the MFA creative writing workshop (for more history on the MFA creative writing workshop and its academic context see The Program Era.) But why should it? Can’t we invent a new and better way than the ancient mode?

  5. Critic:

    Your need to soapbox about what you feel is a better model does not oblige those for whom the model works to make any changes. Also, unless you are part of Clarion, your use of the word “we” is questionable in this context. If you want to go invent something more suited to your vision, go do it and don’t expect other people to do your heavy lifting for you.

    Now, please go be tedious about this subject elsewhere.

  6. critic:

    Your “better idea” already exists and has for years. Search for Critters and the Online Writing Workshop, to start. Or try, you know, YouTube. Search for the keyword “writing” and go nuts. I know Dan Wells and John Brown (not the abolitionist) have interesting clips therein. So, you’re good now, right? Why begrudge a group of people who want to shack up for six weeks and get busy?

    Okay, that last sentence needs some work…

  7. Hmmm – is a sense of humor a good thing? I really, really like that Wheaton/Scalzi unipegacorn story I did. Of course, it may not work without the image, lol. Any thoughts, people who know more about it than I?

  8. Gads, that takes me back– I attended Clarion ’82 with Nina (Motto: “We give good critique!”).

    Have fun!

  9. Shirley:

    I suspect it’s probably best to have any submission story you send stand on its own, humorous or otherwise.

  10. I’d try it on unsuspecting friends who haven’t seen it yet, but I think I made everyone read it the first time, lol. I have one recent story; time to put the articles on the back burner & do some more fiction. Stupid day jobs, why was I not born a Hilton sister?

  11. i seem to have a problem with short stories, they’re too short. two of the best shorts i wrote, people generally said read like they should be novels.


    short story markets seem to be shrinking too. lots of markets have 4k limits or so. I fight to keep a story under ten thousand words.

    of course, i have the other problem of not getting to the point of getting published. so length is one item on a laundry list of issues.

  12. John, not sure you’re allowed to disclose this (out of concern that people might try to ‘write to the judges’) but are the instructors at Clarion the folks who review the submissions, or is that handled by the Shadowy Masters of the Clarion Committee? And are the admittees’ submissions then handed off to the instructors? Really, I’m just curious as to whether the instructors get a preview of their trainees.

  13. Greg: I don’t think there’s such a think as too short for a short story. One of my favorites (I can’t recall the name off the top of my head) was about 2 pages long.

  14. I love the idea of going to a writer’s workshop with legitimate money earning novelist/writers, but at this point it would be easier for me if you just all flew to my house. And well, that doesn’t make a damn bit of sense. So, I sadly will be the loser this time out before even being able to apply.

  15. If you are wondering if Clarion *might* be for you: APPLY!

    If you are wondering if you’re ready: APPLY!

    If you are at all serious about writing: APPLY!

    Seriously, just apply. If you’re at this point, you’re ready. You never know what might happen. Yes, it’s spendy, and yes, it’s six weeks away from work. But it will change. your. life. And our lives are way too short to sit around and wonder whether we’re good enough or smart enough. You only have the chance to get what you want by going for it.

  16. When I first heard about Clarion, I thought no way I can afford to take six weeks out of the summer and not teach Physics. The next year, I realized I could afford it, and got my application sent the day the application period opened. And I got in.

    Clarion is sometimes described as boot camp for SF/F authors. It’s actually a devious plan in using sleep deprivation and total immersion in genre reading and writing. Mind, no one MAKES you read or write — you’ve just cleared the decks for everything else so you CAN read and write all day and half the night. (grin) If you want.

    Plus the friends I made amongst the other attendees and the instructors are a bonus you cannot imagine.

    I can’t speak for your mileage, which will vary, but I benefited greatly from the 2004 Clarion.

    Dr. Phil

  17. changterhune – Before you hear lies from Chang Terhune himself, we thought we’d tell you the truth: without us, his old action figures, he’d be nowhere. He loved science fiction from way back and began reading it at an early age, but it was through us that he acted it all out. That’s what led to the writing. He watched a lot of science fiction shows like Star Trek, U.F.O, and movies, too. But we were always there to do his bidding. And it’s like they say: you always forget about the little people on your way up. Oh, the 70’s and early 80’s with him were good times! He’d use these blocks and make all the crazy buildings for us to be in his stories. I gotta say the kid’s imagination was pretty damn fertile. Oh, he had friends, but they just weren’t into it like him. He was like the Lance Armstrong of action figures. And of science fiction. At first, when he began writing in the eighth grade, we didn’t mind. He still made time for us. And we knew that when he was holding us in his sweaty little hands and he got that far off look in his eye, he’d come back to burying us in the back yard or - god forbid! – blowing us up with firecrackers. But it was worth it for a part in one of those stories. We loved him for it. He kept us around even when we were minus a leg or two - or even a head. In that mind of his, he found a use for all of us. Then he discovered girls. October, 1986. It was like the end of the world. One day we’re standing in the middle of this building block creation he’d pretended was some marble city on a planet near Alpha Centauri and the next we were stuck in a box in the closet. Not even a “See ya later!” Nope, it was into the closet, then we heard some high-pitched girly-giggles then silence. We didn’t see him for years. We got word about him once in a while. Heard he took up writing, but it was crap like “The Breakfast Club” only with better music. We couldn’t believe it. Not Charlie. What happened to those aliens with heads he’d sculpted out of wax? Spaceships? Those complex plots? All gone. For what? You guessed it: Girls. Emotions. “Serious fiction.” I tell you, it was like hearing Elvis had left the building. During our two decade exile in the closet, we heard other things about him. He went to college. He wrote a lot, but not much he really liked. We knew it even then. It was like he didn’t dare write science fiction. Some of us had lost hope and just lay there. Others kept vigil, hoping for a day we didn’t dare speak about. Then we heard he’d stopped writing in 1996. Did he come to reclaim us? No. He took up music for ten years or so. He took up yoga. Once in a while, he’d visit us in the closet. But it was half-hearted. His mind was elsewhere. Then one day, he really did come back for us. One second we’re in the dark and the next thing we know we’re in a car headed for Massachusetts. Suddenly we got a whole shelf to ourselves out in broad daylight! Then he bought a bunch of others form some planet called Ebay. He’d just sit and stare at us with that old look. But why were we suddenly back in the picture? He had a wife now, who didn’t mind that he played with us. So what had happened? Turns out he’d never forgotten about those stories. He’d been thinking about all of us and the stories he’d made up and then remembered he’d been a writer once. From the shelf we could see him typing away. Before long he’s got a whole novel together! Then he’s working on another one. Word is there are two more in the planning stages! Some short stories, too! It’s good to see him using his imagination again. Its good to know he never abandoned us. He returned to his true love of science fiction. We hear the stories are pretty good. Someday we’ll get one of the cats to score us a copy of the manuscript. Man, it’s good to be out of the damn closet! --- I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me
    Chang of Space Command

    It would be completely insane for me to sign up for this which is why I probably will. And it’s utterly impossible for me to get away for the time to go there so I probably will. This is in keeping with my resolution for 2011 which is “Well, if it kills me then I won’t do it again.”

  18. Chang, you are far braver than I am. I am not in any way, shape or form in a position to even apply for this, much less consider the astronomically-huge odds of maybe possibly oh please oh please oh /please/ getting in. If I took six weeks off from work, it wouldn’t just be my life crumbling into an unfixable mess. It’s almost an unfixable mess anyway…

    You know, that’s a point. If it’s already almost completely fubared, what the hell is the point of carrying on?

    Whatever. You know what? If I can scrape together the application fee and get one more really good short finished before the deadline, I’ll apply. Why the hell not?

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