When I was younger (so much younger than today) I guess I could have attended the Clarion Writer’s Workshop. It started at Clarion College (now Clarion University) back in 1968. I didn’t start trying to write until 1974, so it was around, first there in Pennsylvania, then Michigan, and now, this year, at UCSD in San Diego (Surf’s UP!)
Oddly enough, I wasn’t even aware of it until after I’d sold three or four stories and I had the feeling, then, that I was SO beyond all that. And that’s too bad.
I probably could have gone. My wife, Laura J. Mixon, went in ’81. Like many who’ve gone through that particular trial by fire, she still has many of the friends from back then (including our own Mad Robbins and frequent commenter, Terry Boren.) Laura managed to go because she’d already quit her engineering job to go into the Peace Corp when she was accepted. She managed to get her intake-date postponed with Peace Corp and was able to take that six weeks.
Six weeks. This, of all the barriers, has got to be the hardest thing about going to Clarion. Six weeks away from your job, away from your family, away from your friends. And it’s probably the best thing about Clarion. Six weeks! Six weeks to work on your craft, to steep yourself in it. Six weeks.
I wish I’d gone.
The deadline to apply to Clarion has passed (for this year.) But you still have two months to apply to Viable Paradise (June 15th.) Viable paradise is only One Week. This is almost an order of magnitude easier to manage. One can leave one’s job for a week without losing it. (They call it vacation.) One can leave one’s family for that amount of time without too high a chance of divorce (though, like Clarion, this has happened.)
I did a little audio promo for VP for Mur Lafferty to play over at her writing podcast, I Should Be Writing. It’s only 58 seconds (at the bottom of this post.) I also do the Podible Paradise podcast I’ve mentioned before which interviews former students and instructors. If you are someone who has always wanted to go to Clarion but couldn’t take that month and a half, consider Viable Paradise on beautiful Martha’s Vineyard island. This year it’s held September 30th to October 6th.