Clarion, people. Clarion! They’re taking applications for next year’s session in San Diego. Here’s their pitch:
Clarion is widely recognized as a premier training ground for aspiring writers of fantasy and science fiction short stories. The 2011 writers in residence are Nina Kiriki Hoffman, John Scalzi, Elizabeth Bear, David Anthony Durham, John Kessel and Kij Johnson. Each year 18 students, ranging in age from late teens to those in mid-career, are selected from applicants who have the potential for highly successful writing careers. Students are expected to write several new short stories during the six-week workshop, and to give and receive constructive criticism. Instructors and students reside together in UCSD campus apartments throughout the intensive six-week program.
Application period: December 1 – March 1. Applicants must submit two short stories with their application.
Workshop: June 26 – August 6, 2011.
It’s a great line-up of teachers. While I can’t speak specifically to the experience of doing Clarion in San Diego (I went to Clarion 11 years ago, in the East Lansing Michigan days), I can attest to the experience of Clarion generally, which is: life changing. I know you hear that phrase a lot — about books, movies, restaurants, mind-altering substances, etc., but with Clarion (for me anyway) it was literally true. I met people there who are still among my best friends. My professors were inspirations. I learned more about writing in six weeks than I’d learned in all the years previous. I discovered that awesome famous writers are people, too. It very literally changed my life — without Clarion, I wouldn’t have ended up working at Locus, where I’ve been working for nearly ten years now. (One of my instructors was friends with the boss, and basically got the job for me — plus, I first heard about Locus at Clarion!) I can’t promise it’ll have that big an impact on your life, of course… but it will give you six weeks to spend intensely focused on writing, surrounded by people who care as much about this stuff as you do. If you can carve out the time, it’s worth applying. (I desperately want to teach there some day, myself.)
I can also speak to the awesomeness of San Diego: it’s awesome. Great food, great beaches, Mysterious Galaxy bookstore — what more could you want? No offense to East Lansing, which has its charms, but I gotta think San Diego is more fun.