My other pages:
Cutting Edges: Or, A Web of Women
Joe's Heartbeat in Budapest
The Aphra Behn Page
It's a Writer's Life
Advice for future Clarionites
- Bring a fan. There's no AC in the dorms, and Seattle can get very hot in July. (My laptop
went on the blink for a week. Literally. It was so hot, the screen flickered constantly and I had
to turn it off and type blind.)
- Bring whatever you can afford to bring to make the dorm room a temporary home, pictures of
loved ones, whatever. The rooms are pretty awful. Some people don't mind that much, but I am
a nesting creature, and wherever I am I have to make into a home. I had a light throw and
pillows to cover the extra bed and transform it into a couch arrangement, for example. My
neighbor Eric went even farther, shoving the extra bed up against the wall so there was lots of
room for us to sit on his floor together. It was often a party in Eric's room. : )
- Avoid any and all temptation to establish a pecking order. If someone else starts playing the
hierarchy game, don't play along. Alpha males and females can't ruin the group dynamics if
everyone else refuses to give them the chance.
Avoid any and all temptation to create a scapegoat. Everyone at Clarion has worked to get
there and deserves to be there.
Tolerance and patience and endurance and humility. Make those words your mantra. The six
weeks are not going to be easy, and sometimes you are going to be incredibly fed up at all the
stories you have to read that your oh-so productive colleagues are churning out, just when you
want to finish this fabulous story that's going to win the next Nebula. It won't, and you will learn
just as much reading those stories by your buddies that you're so sick of. Every mistake you
notice, every critique you write, teaches you more about how to write a better story yourself.
- Go to classes. Critique the stories. Try to write the kinds of thoughtful critiques you would like
to receive. But don't let it get you down too much if someone misses the point of one of your
stories completely. Take the critiques you get with a grain of salt and not as God's Own Truth.
I didn't read any of the critiques I got until after Clarion. I filed them away and started on the
next story, doing my best to avoid the problems that were mentioned in class.
- Develop a skin of steel. There were a couple of times when I was sorely tempted to tell one of
these former strangers what I thought of his or her behavior, but I didn't. I still had to live with
them for weeks. And it was good. We had no wars. (We also had no affairs, which is probably
a Good Thing. A Very Good Thing. I just hesitate to turn that lump of wisdom into advice. <g>)
After all the other stories I've heard of Clarions past, I can't emphasize enough how important
it is to maintain group cohesion, to be as harmonious as a group of egotistical, factious writers
- Make sure you are well rested before you go. You won't get much sleep at Clarion.
For those who have been accepted: Good luck! I hope you find the experience as fantastic and
unforgettable as I did.
More advice from Eric
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