Clarion (West) Call

Passing the word — Clarion West, one of the well-known and justifiably-lauded six-weeker workshops that are basically “boot camp” for aspiring writers, has put out its call for applicants. And the deadline is coming up fast — March 1st!

I’ve never been to a Clarion. Never had a job that would allow me six weeks off, and was never between jobs in the right conjunction of time and resources to make it. But I always wanted to participate, because so many of my favorite writers have learned and taught there. At this point I think it’s inappropriate for me to attend (and I still can’t afford six weeks off work), because I’ve broken in, and I think the workshop’s resources are best-utilized by people who are still looking to make their big break — but that doesn’t mean I don’t still gaze wistfully in Clarion’s direction from time to time. So those of you who are reading — particularly those of you who are from underrepresented groups in some way — go for me, OK? Seriously; you can totally call me and rub it in about how much fun you’re having. I won’t be jealous at all.




…Anyway, application (pdf) here.

5 thoughts on “Clarion (West) Call”

  1. I’ve had my eyes set on Clarion since I started seriously writing two years ago. Very keen to apply. Just got married, and my wife’s finishing her Masters in a few months, so it’s on my wish list for 2012. Just in time to avoid the end-of-the-world rush!

    The logistics are slightly more complicated for me because I live in Australia, but from everything that I hear, it’s worth the effort to get there.


  2. Not actually a Clarion comment – was just wondering if you’d seen this rant about why modern fantasy sucks over at Big Hollywood ( and the replies to same by Joe Abercrombie (, Adam Whitehead ( and John C. Wright (

    Sorry, this is a messy sort of comment – would’ve tweeted it except for the character limits, feel free to delete – but assuming editing/actual work aren’t currently pwning your soul, I’d love to hear your take on this all, if only because the first guy appears to be TOTALLY INSANE.


  3. Foz,

    Yeah, Sam Sykes pointed it out to me, so I saw it — and dismissed it, because anything written on a Breitbart site is a) likely to be more fantastical than anything I write, and b) intended to provoke by being “totally insane”. Thing is, I’ve heard variations on that kind of angry conservativism for years from different quarters in the genre. The guy’s not insane, or at least not unusual. There are many like him, and they tend to dominate the conversation in certain “status quo” bastions of the fandom — e.g., most SFF forums/boards that are unmoderated, the remnants of Usenet, pretty much anywhere that it’s safe to say things like “those people are ruining fantasy” and go unchallenged, for any group value of “those people” that you choose. Speaking of which — it’s kind of telling that Grin didn’t mention a single woman or PoC in his lists of either incontrovertible classics or the sacred-cow-tippers that have him so angry, don’t you think?

    So I’m glad to see him being challenged by a group of white men — here’s Nick Mamatas too — since that’s clearly whom he’s talking to anyway. So I say let them talk amongst themselves, and in the meantime I’ll just get back to working on my ancient-Egyptian fantasy full of (black!) anti-heroes (and heroines!), moral relativism, and deconstruction of tradition.

  4. Noble sentiments! And yeah, I did notice the glaring omission of female/POC authors mentioned in the article. The more I’m coming to know of fandom, the more I’m realising that people like Grin actually exist; I know he’s not completely insane so much as deliberately provocative, deeply conservative and full of rant, but it still weirds me out, because the traits of my oldest SFF-inclined friends, and the things I love most about how the community has changed over the years, are clearly what he things are ruining it for everyone.

    By way of seeming non-sequitur: At university, I studied the history of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, with particular reference to the Middle East and the Middle Ages. One of the most interesting historical points about the history of Islam we learned was why the Golden Age of the early caliphate eventually ended, viz: being a (comparatively) new religion and having established one of the most advanced civilisations in the world, there was a lot of cultural tension about embracing outside ideas which seemed to contradict their own ideology. A lot of this tension came because, while a large number of madrasas had been established to translate the works of the ancient Greeks and Romans, different schools of scholarship were unsettled by this focus on philosophies that were different to their own, even where those philosophies were respected. The question became: do we risk completely losing ourselves by embracing difference, or do we cut ourselves off from these influences altogether? And of course, they went down the latter path, which lead to the end of the Golden Age and a period of intense cultural isolationism. All of which looks like a self-evident bad decision in retrospect, even if you can completely understand what prompted it, but when people like Grin argue about keeping fantasy pure, or sticking to the old ways, or whatever traditionalism they think is best, that’s what I think of: killing off a golden age through fear of change.

    Anyway! *coughs* Should probably get back to my own writing, too. And totally CANNOT wait to read your Egyptian novels. Egyptian mythology was one of my early obsessions, and when I was about 9 or 10, I was completely obsessed with Brian Jacques’ Ramses series. (Don’t judge!)

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