Clarion: an annual reminder

In 2008, I attended the Clarion Writers' Workshop at UCSD. Clarion is an intensive six week writing program, taught by professional writers. It remains the best thing I've ever done for myself as a writer, both because of what I learned while I was there, and because attending made me take my writing seriously.

Three of my instructors are teaching again this year: Nalo Hopkinson and Kelly Link are at Clarion, and Neil Gaiman is at Clarion West. All three are not only brilliant writers, but also fabulous people, and the instructor line-up at both places is phenomenal. And it's not like the instructors only show up during class - they live in the same place, they are with you the week that they are there.

So yes, I think if you are a writer, you should go. And yes, I know there are hesitations about attending - the two biggest that I've heard being that attending is a big investment of time and money. First, if your hesitation is financial, there are scholarships. It is also a program that I believe is worth planning for - maybe you can't afford the time or money this year, but if you want to go, plan in advance, and apply next year, or the year after. There will always be wonderful instructors.

Time is harder for me to help you with. I get that most adults do not get summer vacations. I gave up a teaching job to attend, and it was terrifying. But if writing really matters to you, and you are trying to discover whether you can do it seriously, whether you can take the raw talent you have and turn it into something recognizable, don't let the time be the thing that scares you away. Push yourself toward the thing that you want. Give yourself the gift of taking yourself seriously.