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Learn to Rite Good

The Clarion West writer's workshop in Seattle has announced its lineup of instructors for 2012.

I'm one of them.

Here's the scoop:


The Clarion workshops are a sort of writer's boot camp. They're not for everyone -- the criticism can be intense -- but for those who are willing to live, eat, drink, and breathe SF and fantasy for a summer, there's no better training. Admission is pretty competitive as well. Many apply, few are chosen.

But over the decades Clarion and Clarion West have turned out more professional SF and fantasy writers than all the college creative writing programs in the country combined.

Scholarships are available for those who cannot afford the tuition.


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 8th, 2011 05:16 pm (UTC)
The boldest statement I'll ever make:

I'll see you there. Or I'll die trying.
Aug. 8th, 2011 06:20 pm (UTC)
I'm curious to go to Clarion. Odyssey was amazing.

The problem I've seen with most college writing courses is how hostile the professors can be to genre fiction. It largely seems if you write something other than the touchy-feely stuff you'd find promoted by Oprah, they want nothing to do with you. Sometimes, the students are just as bad, though I've experienced that far more with MFA grad students than those in either the basic or advanced non-grad fiction classes.

I once was called in to meet with an instructor because other students had complained I was "attacking" their work. I critiqued their stories as I would a piece at Odyssey. When I explained my background and why I was handling stories in such a manner (such as commenting that on page 14 of 16, something should have happened by now, and while the atmosphere was good, there was no tension), she responded that we shouldn't even be thinking of publication yet. This is as a graduate level course...
Aug. 8th, 2011 08:34 pm (UTC)
I feel a need to defend at least some college-level writing courses. I hear so many horror stories similar to yours, that I must have had some exceptional good luck.

I had two professors ban genre writing, but for a very sensible reason. Both noted that genre-specific writing has specialized issues for each genre, and they were teaching a general fiction-writing course. Neither got up my nose about my straightforward, nonpoetical style, and both were glad to have students who weren't afraid to critique firmly. Both encouraged me to keep writing after the semester ended.

Obviously college writing courses aren't required--many of us start a hell of a lot younger than college or even high school--but if you're a college student and can get a course credit and fulfill a requirement by taking a class to do something you were going to do anyway... Research the profs first and see if the class is of the wifty sort or of the "this is what published writers do" variety.

NB: My classes were at Queens College, part of the City University of New York. The proximity of the large commercial publishers may effect the approach they take.
Aug. 8th, 2011 08:49 pm (UTC)
True, not all college writing courses are the same. My grad-course experience is probably also colored by the fact that the instructor is a "chick-lit" author, and the only woman among the students seemed bound and determined to act the part of the stereotypical angry lesbian. It also turned out the instructor was one of the candidates for a professorship here, and the word from those in the know is she would've been turned down, even if the other 15 applicants had declined the offer.

The two professor you had sounds like true professionals. Their reasons are sound and I can respect them for it.

On the other hand, I had one professor, in particular, who not only allowed genre fiction, she gave very good feedback on it. She did have some rules, such as "No zombie stories" based on previous experiences in class. However, she was also willing to work with us. I asked her permission to break the zombie rule, as I wanted a piece critiqued I was writing with a specific anthology in mind. It also ran longer than her usual limit. She allowed it, and that story went on to become my first publishing credit.

Because of her, I'm now looking to get into the MFA program here. I work for the university and get to take classes for free, I may as well get an advanced degree...
Aug. 8th, 2011 07:24 pm (UTC)
This one's on my bucket list.
Aug. 8th, 2011 08:02 pm (UTC)
Now this is exciting. I'm going to have to try to get in!
Aug. 8th, 2011 08:58 pm (UTC)
Do they have offer distance learning?
I don't really leave the compound anymore--now that my mead hall is complete I really don't even want to anymore!--due to my condition.

Do they offer distance learning? Virtual classrooms?

I would love to take your class, Ser. I am hoping you'll discuss the importance of plot and the concept of the "journey" in a well-conceived, taut narrative.

Would be worth the tuition price alone just to pick your brain on Wild Cards. Now I could major in that department for a full four years, plus minoring character development.
Aug. 8th, 2011 09:23 pm (UTC)
Thank you, thank you Mr. Martin for your comments and encouragements to fans and aspiring writers everywhere. There is no finer thing in this world than a wonderful story, and the more folks out there making up stories, the richer our lives. Alas, my professional responsibilities would not permit an entire month off to pursue my writing - nor would my humble fiction necessarily make the cut. Please let us know if the Clarion folks post any content from the conference -- it would be a delight to hear more of your pearls about writing.

Do not fear the mighty adverb!

Thanks again ~ Kevin
Aug. 9th, 2011 02:11 am (UTC)
Learn to Rite Good

So you and the other instuctors are providing Rite Aid?
Aug. 9th, 2011 02:30 am (UTC)
Sounds like it would be a blast. Unfortunately, I feel that I'm a much better reader than writer.
I just finished DANCE today, and I like reading out loud (pfft, I'm a nerd, being odd is in the job description!), so my dad heard what I was reading and I think he might give the books a go!
Aug. 9th, 2011 04:40 pm (UTC)
right on! I've heard really good things about writer boot camps. Glad to hear you're participating.
Aug. 9th, 2011 06:56 pm (UTC)
Question ...
I have never attended a writer's workshop before ... though I've seen plenty of sales material advertising different workshops around the country.

I don't know which ones are worth the money and which ones to avoid.

Is there anyway to find out if a specific writer's workshop is worth going to or not?

Do magazines like Writer's Digest give "honest" evaluations of workshops? I'm personally skeptical of magazines giving honest critiques from the same companies that they are taking advertising money from.

Based on your experience, which workshops would you recommend?
Aug. 9th, 2011 06:59 pm (UTC)
That's great news, George! You kick all kinds of ass, and I'm looking forward to spending time with you.

Oh, yes, I'll see you there. I live in my car at the moment, so I may need the financial aid. Nonetheless, I WILL see you there!

Thanks for doing it.
Aug. 10th, 2011 05:20 am (UTC)
Incidentally, and then I'll leave it alone, I worked for several years as a deckhand for Weeks Marine and Sea Lion out of Bayonne and New York harbor, Port Elizabeth, the Kills, etc., even helped separate bodies from steel beams and dust at Fresh Kills landfill in Staten Island after the World Trade Center.

What am I saying? After tugboats and burnt body parts, after wailing women and frightened children, bring on the criticism!!
Lawrence Lawson
Aug. 12th, 2011 04:20 pm (UTC)
Clarion West!
I didn't think you'd ever do a Clarion again, so this posting is a pleasant surprise. GRRM + Chuck Palahniuk? That's a once-in-a-lifetime dream. I'll definitely be applying.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )


George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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