Monday, February 15, 2010

Two more weeks

Clarion is accepting applications until 11:59 pm (Pacific) on 1 March. Two more weeks to apply, which means if you haven't yet begun writing your application stories, you can now make your application process mimic the experience of being at Clarion, and write one story a week.

If you're serious about writing, I encourage you to apply. (Look at that faculty! That is an amazing group of people to learn from.) Having gone through the stress of the application process myself, I know it's easy to talk yourself out of applying, so I'm going to try to talk you back into it.

What if I don't get in? Well, then you don't. That sounds harsh, I know, but signing up to be a writer is signing up for a career's worth of rejections. Learning how you cope with rejection is a valuable part of learning how to be a writer. (And, let me assure you, Clarion is not six weeks of your instructors and fellow students telling you how wonderful everything you write is.) Even if you don't get in, you'll have written two stories. You will have created art that didn't exist before. It's up to you to decide what that rejection means - maybe you decide you weren't a writer after all, or maybe you are filled with a fierce desire to write better next time. And the other possibility, of course, is that you will get in.

It's expensive. Yes. It is. But it is worth it. The specificity and intensity of the situation mean that you will learn things about your writing that you might never learn otherwise. Take a look at that instructor list again, and think what it would mean to you to sit next to one of the people on there over breakfast, or at 3 am while you are still writing critiques for the morning's class. Think of what it would be like to have each of those people tell you what they think of what you wrote, and talk to you about where you see yourself going as a writer. Imagine brainstorming plot points with one of those people, and ask yourself how much that is worth to you. There are scholarships. And if it still seems impossible to afford this year, it is the sort of experience that is worth saving up for.

Six weeks is a long time away from my life (partner, child, &tc). Again, yes. Classmates of mine left behind partners and families to attend. We all left lives behind. My house and cat sitter had a nervous breakdown the day I moved into the dorms. The paperwork for my divorce was filed in week 4. Life doesn't stop because you are writing, regardless of where you are writing. I can't tell you the best way to balance the two. But it is possible to do so. And it may be easier to learn how to negotiate that balance when you are in a community of people all trying to do the same thing.

There is nothing that I have done that has been better for the quality of my writing or for my understanding of what it means for me to be a writer, than attending Clarion. You have two more weeks to apply. Good luck.

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