Yesterday I arrived back in New Zealand after six weeks in Seattle, attending the Clarion West Writer’s Workshop. It’s focused on speculative fiction writers – science fiction and fantasy and horror – and for six weeks 18 of us from around the world lived together, writing and critiquing and learning from the six professional tutors brought in to help us become better artists.
We were very lucky to have one of the sorority houses associated with the University of Washington to live in. Of course over in the US it’s summer right now, so the house was available to be hired out, and it was perfect for what I’ve been privately calling “writer’s boot camp”. Being at Clarion West was so, so rewarding in a number of ways, but I don’t think any of us (come from as far around the world as India, Wales, and the Antipodes) wouldn’t also call it “exhausting”. But Huw and Neile, the workshop coordinators, were used to having whiny writers to wrangle, and everything was super well organised to keep us happy and (mostly) productive.
I’ve wanted to attend a Clarion workshop ever since I found out they existed. There’s a sister workshop – Clarion in San Diego – that I got accepted to back in 2014, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend. Thankfully I got a second chance, and it was well worth it! If any of you reading are thinking about going, I wholly recommend it. Our tutors – Paul Park, Stephen Graham Jones, Elizabeth Bear, N.K. Jemisin, Sheila Williams and Michael Swanwick – were helpful, informative, and friendly, and the encouragement I got from my fellow students was invaluable. (We now have a standing agreement that the first one of us to sell to Clarkesworld buys beer for the rest.)
If you think you can’t afford to go, apply anyway – there are scholarships available, and I was able to go this year because of one of them.
You won’t regret it!