What some of our past students have said about the workshop…
Suzanne Church, 2005 participant: “Clarion is a once in a lifetime experience and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to be immersed in genre writing.”
Ellen Klages , 2005 participant: “The camaraderie, the sense of “tribe” and belonging. Seventeen people (plus the tutors and convenors), who were mostly strangers at the beginning, and are now Family forever. By meeting every morning on a level playing field — regardless of age or experience, race or background — and sharing critiques, we each learned from everyone else, and got to know people, whether or not we had much in common off the page.
Every morning I was surprised, startled, delighted by an opinion or idea that I would never, in a million years, have thought of, or that made the Aha! lightbulb go on in my brain as I took a second look at a paragraph or a character in a story. Sometimes I agreed, sometimes I disagreed. But the status quo was always being challenged, and growth and change were everywhere.
That same sense of camaraderie extended to reading stories in the afternoon — there’s something so amazing about lying on a couch and reading, hearing someone down the hall yell, “Oh, come on, give me a break!” and hear someone else answer, “Just hit page 14, didn’t you?” Group mind. Sharing.
Walking out into the lounge and saying to three people at the table, “what’s it called when you—?” and knowing someone will have an answer. Having a friend who’s also up struggling with adjectives at midnight, and taking a break to talk before hitting the keyboard again.
Clarion was not real life. It was a world of writing, and writing only. And even when I was reading stories that I was only slogging through out of duty, and getting way too little sleep and sweating over deadlines — literally and figuratively — I was being fed by the energy and creativity and excitement and ideas and support of the other 16 people and the tutors. I was being drained, daily, but I was also being recharged. And that, I think, is the hardest part to recreate now that it’s over and I’m back in front of my own solitary keyboard.”
Chris Barnes, 2004 participant: “The critiquing sessions were the major source of my learning during the workshop. They gave me a chance to understand how other people reacted to my stories, and where the strengths and weaknesses lay in each piece.”
Laura Goodin, 2007 participant: “I’m different now. I don’t know exactly how yet. But I think it’s a good thing.”
Ben Maulbeck, 2007 participant: “Maybe for the first time in your life, you are surrounded day and night by other spec fic writers. As we say in Spanish,aprovenchalo (take advantage of it). Don’t be afraid to talk about your writing, about the spots in your stories that you’re struggling with. Stay up until 3am talking about the “supernatural ecology” of vampire watermelons. It is imperative that you do so. Who knows whn you’ll have the chance again. Don’t be afraid to push your own writing to new and untried terrirory…Clarion is not about getting approval from your peers, it’s about learning and growing as a writer.”
Cat Sparks, 2004 participant” “I had doubts that the workshop would have much to offer me as a writer as I’d had a fair bit of critiquing experience already. I was so wrong – the intense ‘boot camp’ environment offered something I’d just not experienced anywhere else before and am not likely to find again. No matter how many writing groups you’ve done, the Clarion experience is different. It’s tough and hard because you’re locked in there. You are forced to eat, sleep and breathe it. It’s a lifestyle thing.”
Ellen Klages, 2005 participant: “I truly believe that six weeks at Clarion South has changed my life, for the better. I’ve met people on the other side of the world, had the opportunity to live in a culture that’s not the one I grew up in, acquired a lot of interesting new vocabulary. I’ve learned so much about myself — both strengths and weaknesses — as a person and as a writer. I’m a better writer, and a better reader. I would do it again, in a hot second.”
Andrew Macrae, 2004 participant: “The workshop was simply the most amazing thing I have ever undertaken. It has given me the skills and the confidence I need to continue. It was so challenging on so many different levels, I couldn’t help but grow as a writer.”
Emma Munro, 2005 participant: “Clarion is a hothouse and a bootcamp. The participants are treated like they are special because of process and structure, but also because of the care and support from the convenors and tutors who showed us how to receive and how to give to the speculative fiction community. And, experiencing the spec fic community camaraderie is something I will take away with me and value forever, and also pass on to others.”
Helen Venn, 2007 participant: “Clarion South can be one of the best experiences of your life. It certainly was for me.”