Ten years ago today was the first day of class at the 2001 Clarion. Steve Barnes talked about plot. (The stuff he talked about that day, together with some some ideas I got a few weeks later from Geoff Landis and some earlier instruction from Bruce Holland Rogers at his Flatiron Fiction Workshop, served as the basis for the article on story structure that I sold later that year to Speculations.)

Those six weeks at Clarion were great—only a handful of times in my life have I had that much fun. Clarion also had a huge impact on my life—everything I’ve done since then has been colored by the things I learned there.

I wouldn’t want to do Clarion again—it only works that way one time—but I would like to do another intensive workshop. Probably one aimed at novels, if I can get a novel written.

That’s for the future, though. Right now I need to write one more short story for my local writers group, then start revising some of the stories that they’ve already critiqued.

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4 thoughts on “Ten years since my Clarion

  1. I stumbled here after a random comment on a recent Neil Gaiman webcast interview reminded me that I need to find a local writers group. Facebook reveals that we have at least one friend in common, and I think a friend of mine linked one of your Wise Bread articles (I don’t remember which one but I remember reading “Who Cheated Us Out of Our Amazing Future?” when perusing the site). I also wonder if perhaps I know you from the local cycling community – for long rides I ride with the PCC or Small Pack Mentality Level 3s, and sometimes with Wild Card, but I also have a ladies hybrid I fly through South Farms on en route to work.

    Reading bits of your blog and Wise Bread articles it seems to me that we are remarkably similar. I have a degree in Economics from UIUC and work at a software company in the U of I Research Park. I used to commonly say “working’s for suckers,” though (in the present economy I perhaps have more tact), and have been trying to save aggressively with the hope of getting out of the working business so I can write full-time.

    I’m all too well aware that the number one thing that any established author will say about eking a living out writing (mostly speculative fiction, in my case) is that one must start by writing. I was lucky enough to get a personal comment from the author James D. MacDonald on Making Light a few months ago which he ended by saying “Keep going. Revise along the way if you must, but don’t forget to create original material every day.” I know enough about myself to know that I am good with deadlines, so if I had a meeting at which I had to present some progress on a regular basis, I would have progress.

    One way to do this is to go to Clarion, of course. But this summer I am saving to pay for my wedding, and next summer I am getting married, and neither thing involves having the money to go to Clarion. So again, writers groups… I don’t think I’m Incognito material, since I haven’t ever gotten any fiction published (I have had some other teeny publications). Do you happen to know which of the local fiction groups might be the best fit for a speculative fiction beginner? Ideally, I would find one that would meet every week with each member presenting work for review every week, but I know that’s shooting the moon.

    Mostly though, I just wanted to say “Hello,” and “I’m glad you’re in my town writing seriously,” and “Go, you, making me think about being a rentier.”

  2. Thanks for the kind words!

    Whether you’re selling is not so important as whether you’re submitting work to commercial markets. (We don’t want people who are just writing for therapy or just writing for the group members; we want people who are writing for publication.) Also, it needs to be short fiction, because it’s so hard to critique a novel in progress.

    The other groups that I know of are listed near the end of the incognitos page. (If you find others, let me know and I’ll link to them as well.)

  3. I haven’t really tried writing much short fiction, although the few bits I have written were fun to write. I may try my hand at it over the next month or two and let you know if I have any success.

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