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It must be close to Clarion response time again

February 4, 2012

Welcome, all you twitchy Clarion and Clarion West candidates linking here while you fret over the opportunity to play writer for six weeks.  I know what you’re going through.  I’ve been there.  And from the statistics of which posts are getting the most reads, you’re all doing the same thing I did to cope with the stress of waiting: seeking out every tidbit about the workshop you can possible squeeze out of the internet.

Not a very effective stress management technique, is it? I think it just stressed me out more.  It’s like a drug; you feel a little better when you get some but it ultimately just makes you want more.  So here are my healthier strategies for dealing with the wait for Clarion responses.

  • Write something brand new.  Start a story today with the intention of finishing it before you get that phone call (or heaven forbid, that email…or is everything conducted by email now?).  You’re a writer so you can do it.  It might be worth while to make this something outside your strong suit to brush up some skills.  That way, in or out, you have a new story to market when you’re done.
  • Make sure everything you’ve ever written is in a slush pile somewhere.  You have been sending your stuff out, right?  If you’re in, you want to be able talk about your latest sales.  If you’re out, you want to be able to take comfort in the sales you make.  You can’t do either with those stories sitting in a drawer.  Even stuff you already sold can be subbed to reprint markets.  I’ve sold 3 reprints recently and I’m not exactly the hottest selling author on the planet.  I might not be the hottest seller in my hometown.  Get that stuff out there!  And if you’re like me, it takes an hour or so to choose a market, prep the story for specific guidelines, and get the thing sent (snail or electronic).  If you have any backlog at all, this can make a great distraction.
  • Spend some quality time with the people you’ll miss if you go.  Six weeks is a long time and someone (spouse, child, boy/girlfriend, mother, dog…) will miss you terribly while you’re writing your summer away.  Go to the zoo.  Okay, the zoo might be cold this time of year, maybe even closed, but…do something worth remembering.  They deserve it.
  • Read stuff by the instructors.  I’m not particularly well-read so I had to do some research to know who these people were.  Beyond their Wikipedia page, I also wanted a taste of their writing.  Wow, some of it blew me away the years I was applying.  And do you CW applicants really need an excuse to read some George R.R. Martin?  Or do you San Diego hopefuls think you could possibly have read all of Ted Chiang’s great short stories?  Go read.

I tried all these things while I was waiting on that Clarion Call.  Ultimately they helped, but I still trolled the internet for every possible “Clarion” reference Google or IceRocket could cough up.  That reply will come.

For what it’s worth, acceptance never came for me.  Waitlisted once, but never attended.  (Placing in Writers of the Future softened the blow.)  I can tell you that my career isn’t exactly on the fast track, but I’m doing all right.  Rejection isn’t the end.  So good luck (that’s a big part of it, luck) and don’t give up.

Oh, and you can check out my Workshop page.  If you find any dead links there, let me know.

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