L to R: Paul Berger, Nalo Hopkinson, Stefani Nellen, Keffy Kehrli (behind her), Ferrett Steinmetz, Emily Jiang (behind him), Kat Howard (on the floor), Geoff Ryman, and Megan Kurashige.

Five years ago I went to the Clarion Workshop. To date I’d written two short stories (both for the Clarion application) and had a vague idea for a novel about a bridge that crossed the ocean.

My appreciation and love for my classmates has grown exponentially in the years since. But the six weeks themselves were a mixed experience for me. I was often grouchy and homesick, and learned just how fiercely I protect my time, to the exclusion of being social. It was also really hard on my ego, and everyone’s—at Clarion, you write a story each week and submit it for critique to seventeen smart strangers, including that week’s instructor, who happens to be a giant of speculative literature.

Our fourth-week instructor was Neil Gaiman. Like with all instructors, we held a half-hour meeting together to talk about our writing and careers. When I arrived in Neil’s apartment, he’d made tea, and I sat on the couch and he sat in the chair opposite. He asked me what my writing goals were.

I said, “I want to be making a living from creative writing within five years.”

He didn’t laugh, which honestly, given the preposterousness of that goal, most people would have done.

He just said, slowly, “I think you can, if you work very hard.”

There were lots of highs and lows during Clarion, but this was the highest high. Not because anyone was praising me, but just because someone was telling me: yes, your dream is possible.

May 17th, 2013 is when I got my first advance check from Crown. I made it just under the deadline.

263_589455434448_7829_nHere we are, our first night, on the beach with Kelly Link. My love to all of you and our continuing, thriving, far-flung community.

One Comment on “Clarionniversary.”

  1. Steffi says:

    Lots of love back! My experience was similar to yours in that I had mixed feelings while I was there, in the sense of protecting my time and maybe not being as social as I could have been, but now it feels as if these six weeks in San Diego are still sustaining me — even more so as the years go by…I hope to be at some kind of reunion again in the near future, perhaps with Floris…!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s