I have applied for Clarion 2014.
The Clarion workshops have been on my radar pretty much since I started writing seriously back in 2010, and for the majority of that time it had only been a nice dream, a Wouldn't That Be Great, But. The But was always money, the But was always distance. Distance is something that has been a big part of my writing life - I've never been able to go overseas for a con, I send 95% of my work digitally, and I've never met any of my overseas network. That's just how it is having to live in a small set of islands at the bottom of the Pacific. It's way better than 20 years ago when I thought there was no New Zealand network of authors and it would be ridiculous to think I could make it Over There, physically and spiritually. I know better now, but still, distance...money...
In the last 2 years or so, the conversation around Clarion has intensified as I have made networks and social media friends with people who have attended, and speak highly of the experience. Clarion is not just A place to go to be a genre writer, it is THE place to go. Intensive, in depth, respected. Just looking at the list of alumni and tutors gives you pause - how much would this add to my career? But still, money...distance...
Earlier this year I began thinking really seriously about it. What if I gave myself enough time to save up and went in two years? 2015 seemed like a reasonable goal.
And then the tutors were announced for the 2014 San Diego workshop, and my timetable moved up dramatically.
NK Jemisin. Catherynne Valente. You know how much I talk about them being major influences on my work and how much I respect them. They have a lot to say about writing, the politics of writing and the industry, and the politics of the personal which align with my own ideas. One of them would inspire me to apply for Clarion, but both? It's far too serendipitous to pass up. The writing gods are trying to tell me something.
So many people told me "just do it anyway and worry about money later if it happens". I'm not that kind of person - I fret about money (I know, it's a throwback to difficult times). But after doing the calculations and making decisions with the Other 'Arf and researching scholarships and thinking about loans and savings (which were meant for other Important Things) and maybe a PledgeMe or a Tip Jar...maybe, just maybe, I could make it work.
The distance and time is a huge commitment. It's 14 hours on a plane to LA. It's a 6 week intensive live-in study environment. That's 6 weeks off from work, maybe with a little bit extra to accommodate flying time, jet lag, and a few days drop in to Disneyland (hey, I cannot fly into LA without going to my favourite place!). I'm lucky to be in a position where I have long service leave saved up from my job, and with a small leave of absence factored in, the time off should be covered, though I'll have to find some way to financially cover the leave of absence time taken (Yayboo mortgage).
And really, when it comes down to it, it's time to Do Something. If I'm serious about making this writing life work, I need the commitment and discipline. I need to get to work on that bucket list. I am improving but not improving fast enough for me to feel comfortable with being this close to 40. Yeah, I may be 21 at heart in some regards, and people often mistake my true age, but I don't have as much time to make a mark as people who have been wanting and doing since they were young. I don't have my Million Words of Crap behind me, I don't have the "I've known I wanted to do this since I was a child", I was afraid of finding my driving passion. I've always, on some level, wanted something artistic from myself, but it took me a very long time to figure out what I was good at, what I wanted.
Time. Distance. Money.
The industry connections one makes at Clarion can't be denied, but I think I've been slowly building up a nice network that will hopefully sustain me for years to come if I don't get there. My people are good to me, and writing up my application last night made realize how wonderful and plentiful they all are. I suddenly can't count how many authors I know or follow and support me in their little ways. I might not talk to them all, and relationships have waxed and waned in the last few years, but every day they sustain me with the little bits of information they have to impart, and I'm thankful for it.
So, I hit the finish button on my application last night. I hope I said the right things, I hope I said enough. I hope I am enough. I'm ready if I don't make it. Hey, I'll be disappointed, but I think I've been getting somewhere the last year that I'll just keep on keeping on until I hit a sweet spot. I'll go back to thinking about going to WisCon in the next 2 years (it was either one or the other, I couldn't do both within the next 5 years), and maybe apply again at a later date.
But if I do get accepted? Woah. Top Five Greatest Life Things Of All Time. And whoda thunk it, I didn't even know about Clarion until 4 years ago. Life, you is a funny thing.