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Snow waits for no man

February 11, 2010

Another couple days out of school (the today that is ending and the tomorrow about to begin, it being after 11PM and all).  How much writing have I clocked this week?  100 words?  Maybe 200?  Honestly the count may be negative since I’ve been removing cancerous cliches from my latest endeavor.

But I have some energy now and most of my best work comes in the wee hours (at least I believe that in those wee hours).  When I get done here, I intend to power through to the next good part and build some steam.  My afternoon/evening is still booked with some training tomorrow (free laptop, baby!) but morning and early afternoon are free enough to squeeze out some words whenever my daughter is reasonably distracted (which happened seldom today, so I have that much excuse).

I’ve been trolling Icerocket for other people’s comments on Clarion/Clarion West.  It’s interesting what I find.  Apparently Clarion is a computer language or something and I get mostly drivel about that, but what real hits I get run the gamut from “I’m pretty sure I’ll get in” to “is it even worth my effort”.  I fear I would likely fall on the arrogant side of this, though my close shave with CW last year is at least some sort of pedigree, as is my WotF finalist I used to apply (more on that below).  Still, I don’t feel confident at all.  I screwed up my application length — even the format — for CW.  I had to cut 500 words from my story to submit to Clarion, 500 words that were mostly character-building or fleshed out the milieu (a word I’m trying to use more often), so maybe I stripped the story of some of its strengths and/or charm…and it was still a nibble above the word count.  (As if that story could be called “charming” at all.)  And the second Clarion story was a bit experimental in form, only an HM from WotF, and really represented my abilities from years ago, when I wrote the first draft without the Multiple Sclerosis angle.

So no, I’m not certain I’ll make it.  If people have more reason to expect to make it than I have (they may have pro sales or better semi-pros, for instance), then more power to them and I hope I see you out west.  If they have less reason to think they’ll make it (I have no formal training, no pro sales or even especially braggable semi-pro sales, I type slow and read slower, and I went five pages over for my CW application, for goodness sake!), then there’s still reason to apply.  For instance, I know Clarion (SD) has a tiered rejection system.  (If it says you were close, you were.)  And you might just get in anyway!  It’s not a magazine, it’s a workshop.  They are looking as much at potential as they are skill.  A clever writer with an obvious flaw might be a better candidate than a pretty-good-all-around writer that doesn’t stand out anywhere.  What will that person do, increase his/her mediocrity?

This isn’t to say everyone should apply.  It’s not worth it to every Joe/Jane that wants to write.  Six weeks away from work often means quitting a job.  Six weeks away from a spouse/fiancee/boyfriend/girlfriend may mean coming home single.  Six weeks away from my daughter is going to be devastating.  If it happens, I’ll have at least one major breakdown.  It will happen.  Not to mention I’ll also be away from my wife.  And the financial cost…  How many Clarion writers actually recoup that money with writing sales?

But face it, Clarion is my American Idol.  If I can make it as a writer, this will help (not make, but help) it happen.  It will open doors whose keys I might never reach by other avenues.  So for me, it’s worth it…perhaps for the last time. Let’s just say that after 2010, I intend to have too much to leave behind for six weeks to be reasonable.  So this is my Clarion shot.  The darts are away.  I should find out where they land in the next four to six weeks.  (If anyone thinks six weeks isn’t long, send off the application and wait those six weeks to hear back.  It’s a freaking eternity!)

And I know Clarion is not the only path to Publishing Parnassus.  Writers of the Future seems to be a good train, and more evidence that four to six weeks can be interminible.  (Come on, judges, declare my victory/defeat and get on with it!)  Lots of people just keep submitting until that one sale happens.  Then it’s off to the snail races.  And if it’s not what but who, networking can be done at conventions, via blogs, through mutual friends (found at cons or blogs), or any other number of ways.  Success is out there, waiting for me.  Waiting for you.  Many roads lead ther; they all have their own toll booths.  Get your exact change ready and get driving.

Ouch…the agony of that last cliche metaphor is killing me.  Avenge me!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 12, 2010 5:34 pm

    No, no! The cliches are comforting, keep ’em coming! We can at least entertain one another while we wait. And wait.

  2. February 13, 2010 12:49 am

    Good luck with your Clarion apps 🙂 I sorta miss the waiting. But there really is zero chance that I’d be able to afford to go this year, so I’m not going to torture myself. (And I’m doing two short workshops with Dean Wesley Smith in a week! doom!).

    I figure there are many paths to getting a solid career going, so why not try all of them? The key to making money at writing seems to be having many streams of income, so might as well try many paths to getting the streams flowing.

  3. February 15, 2010 1:29 pm

    Of the two stories I used to get into Clarion in 2004, the first was generally considered to be “not a story” but more of a vignette. A slice of life. Which is what I’d intended, but apparently they don’t sell well. After years of monkeying with it, I did increase the tension and it finally sold to Space Westerns. The second story was considered too predictable — it was part of a longer story I intended to write, where this starship repo team does two jobs. I’d written the first “easy” job, thinking I needed to explain how it all worked, so we could compare it to the second “everything goes wrong” job which I hadn’t yet written — all the instructors said I should’ve written the second job and used the first job as research. (grin)

    I still got in.

    Remember, Clarion needs to see some evidence you can write, but the point of the workshop is to expose you to all sorts of other writing, to break you down and build you back up again. If you can write professional publication grade stories now which sell anywhere you like, then you may not need Clarion. (double-grin)

    Dr. Phil

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