A Message to the Applicants for Clarion 2009

And you should be finished with your Clarion and/or Clarion West workshop application right about…now.

Well, actually you probably should have finished and uploaded your application a while ago, giving yourself a comfortable cushion of time to correct any problems that might arise with the process.  But that isn’t what I did.  Around this time a year ago I was furiously pounding out the first science fiction story I had written in years, and it was taking twice as long as I had expected it to, and I couldn’t stop for anything, not even my dog dying, and I finally finished the damn thing and filled out the online forms and uploaded the documents in the middle of the night at my girlfriend’s apartment, eyes barely able to focus on my laptop screen, girlfriend trying to sleep through my typing ten feet behind me.  I got my application in with minutes to spare.

Then, for better or worse, it was done.  And I was proud of myself.  Whether I got accepted or not, I had identified going to Clarion as something that I would value, and I got over any fears I harbored of critique and rejection.  I had never seriously submitted for publication before, so it was my first time sending my fiction out to strangers to be judged.  That wasn’t a small thing for me, and I suspect it isn’t a small thing for many of you.  For a hundred different reasons, just applying can be hard.  So, now that the deadline for this year has passed, allow me to say to all the new applicants: well done!  I’m proud of you.

Now what?

Well, again, if you do as I did, you should be reading this blog post right about…now.  Because after I submitted my application I spent the next several weeks scouring the internet for other applicants.  I searched blogs and fora for any recent mention of Clarion.  (For the equally obsessive, I recommend Google Blog Search, Icerocket, and any forum dedicated to genre fiction in general or fans of a specific instructor or their work.)  I filled a folder with bookmarks to the blogs of everyone I could find who was in the same boat as me, starting the same waiting game.  And it seems possible that others may be doing the same thing now and stumbling upon this place.  So:  If you are reading this and you just applied to one of the workshops (1) congrats on getting it done and (2) leave a comment, let me know who you are.

And good luck!


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  1. I did that too! Both applied at the last minute and scoured teh Interwebs for other applicants. Google Blog Search was great for that.

  2. I submitted my stories with 18 minutes to spare. lol. I’m now feeling like. What have I done? It’s so funny cause I had the first part of the application filled out perfectly. Then, when I went to upload my stories, I realized it had logged me out! It had erased my statements and wouldn’t let me go back. With almost 30 minutes to deadline, I had to rewrite my habits and purpose from memory. I was so upset because the new version was rushed and shorter than the first. I should have saved those in another program before like I had done with my stories. Ah well–what’s done is done. I’ll shoot you the stories I submitted if you’re interested.

  3. I wouldn’t worry about having rushed the habits/purpose stuff. I did those at the last minute too, affording them only a few sentences each, and I still got in. I don’t have any insider knowledge of how the applications are judged in this regard, but I suspect that the people looking at your app will understand that the writing you put the time into getting right is in the stories, not the online form. So long as your statement of purpose didn’t include any phrases like “opportunity to floss with the veins of published authors,” you are probably okay. It’s the stories that really matter.

  4. I sent my application in so late, I had to rely on the earth’s rotation to get it in on time. I sent it in on March 2, from Asia. I consider it a mental feat to have applied and still feel that I have a shred of a chance to get in. I have received lots of rejections with my stories so it won’t be the first time if I do get (gulp) rejected, but I am preparing a fresh sacrifice to offer to the Clarion Gods just in case.

  5. Wow, I feel so… predictable.

    However, I sent in my application in January on the theory that applying to Clarion was like paying a bill. If I didn’t do it right away, I’d forget then they’d turn off the electricity and kick me out of my house.

  6. Howdy, I applied and heard back already. I’m in! Have you heard anything yet?

  7. Jordan: Congrats on your acceptance! And just to be clear: I’m not an applicant this year, as I went to Clarion last year. I’m just interested in the new crop of applicants and students. Several of last year’s grads put up encouragement notes about our own application/attendance experiences for this year’s applicants. There are links to their blogs in the sidebar on my links page, if you want to read more about it. Damien and Emily in particular both posted “what you can expect at Clarion and how it will change your life” notes.

  8. I am in the opposite boat. My West application went in so early I can’t remember whether it was Dec. 2008 or Jan. 2009. It makes the wait to hear very long.

    My East (still funny that Clarion East is in San Diego) application has been in long enough to feel like an ancient tome. Every time the phone rings, my heart skips a few beats. It’s always my mother.

    I have been scouring the net for evidence of others like Jordan who have been accepted. So far he seems to be alone, the number one draft choice. I don’t mind going in round seven, I just want to get in. *cross fingers*

  9. Eugene,
    Thank you so much. I linked to you from Emily’s blog. I appreciate grads taking the time to give us all this encouragement; it shows that Clarion WAS a valuable experience, and that we are not wrong in wishing for that opportunity.

    JC, you are not predictable! Just part of a special group of people on the same wavelength. I also did exactly what Eugene describes, and I was still working on the second story on the day of the deadline. I was freaked out when I submitted and put itty-bitty one-liners in the habits and publication parts. But I’m hopeful. It’s made me a better writer already by demanding something of me.

    Has anybody seen a site where applicants (accepted/not accepted) are gathering?

  10. Thanks Eugene, I kinda figured that out after I left the comment 😉 Sometimes my fingers are faster than my brain.

    I’m totally going to check out those other entries. Thanks for pointing me to them!

  11. I told myself I wouldn’t do this, that I would wait and find out when I found out and not bother with checking to see if anyone else had heard.

    Obviously, I’ve failed.

    But it’s nice to have company.

    Good luck everybody, and thanks for sharing your experience, E.J.

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