What if you can’t go to Clarion?

You can capture pieces of the Clarion experience without going to Clarion—pieces that will let you step up your writing game just as much as going to Clarion would.

Acceptances and rejections for Clarion are going out about now, so the writer blogs and twitter feeds are full of excitement and dismay.  Those who get to go to Clarion are in for a wonderful, magical experience. But what if you can’t go? What if you got rejected—or didn’t even apply, because of a lack of time or money or confidence? You can capture pieces of the Clarion experience, without going to Clarion—pieces that will let you step up your writing game, perhaps as much as going to Clarion would.

Of course, you can’t really recreate Clarion at home. You can’t duplicate the community of fellow writers working together on the common goal of improving everyone’s skills. You can’t recreate the network of pro writers who’ll take an interest in your career because they’ve gotten to know you as a person. And you probably can’t recreate the time and space—six weeks with no obligations but to write and critique. Given all that, you can still do a lot.

So, with the proviso that I’m just a writer who attended Clarion ten years ago and has continued writing since then, I’m putting up a series of posts on “Clarion at home.” (Be aware that I tend to over-think and over-plan this sort of thing. A minimalist version of this would probably be just as good, and might be better.)

Here’s what I’m expecting to post over the next few days. (I’ll links here as I get the posts up. I may also edit the list if I make changes.)

  1. Planning: Pick your six weeks—and a book on writing
  2. Writing: Write a story a week
  3. Reading: Read many mediocre and a few great stories
  4. Critiquing: Compare your critiques to others
  5. Expertise: How to become an expert fiction writer
  6. Summation: What about getting critiques?

I’d be particularly interested in hearing from other folks who’ve attended Clarion and have some thoughts on how you can capture a bit of the Clarion experience for home use. I’ll approve pingbacks and trackbacks for this post, so if you write something about recreating Clarion at home, I’ll link back to your post.

[Update 2011-03-28: I’ve gathered the links above together on a “Clarion at Home” page.]

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