Contributing to Clarion West
Do you accept students from other countries?
What about my writing sample? What kind of work should I submit? Must it be SF? Must it be short fiction?
Do you set age limits for students you accept?
Do you require any previous education?
When will I hear if I got in?
Do letters of recommendation help me get in?
May I have an extension and send my application in late?
Is it okay if my writing sample is longer than thirty pages or doesn't follow standard manuscript format for typeface and margins, et al?
Can you accept the application fee in the currency of my home country?
The Clarion West Experience
After Clarion West
How many participants turn into professional sf/f writers?
I've got a demanding career and a couple of young children -- I can't afford to be gone six weeks. Can I get the Clarion West experience some other way?
I've already graduated from Clarion West. Can I go back?
Contributing to Clarion West
Please see the information on the Donate page for details about making tax deductible contributions to help support Clarion West.
Absolutely. Clarion West is always looking for volunteers to help with instructor selection, chauffeur duties, moving boxes from one place to another, and even hosting parties. If you'd like to volunteer and be an important part of the Clarion West community, get in touch with us using the information on our Contact page.
Applying to Clarion West
Yes, as long as they're writing in English. We've had students from Canada, the U.K., Switzerland, France, Australia, Vietnam, New Zealand, and elsewhere. Students from other countries are also eligible to apply for our scholarship assistance.
You should submit your best fiction writing. Period. It's to your advantage to submit short fiction so our readers can see that you can end a story as well as begin one, but our readers don't care what genre you're writing in. Novel portions are fine as long as you include a synopsis (and yes, the synopsis does count toward the page limit).
We have no age limits. We've had students as young as 20 and as old as 70. An option for writers younger than this is the Alpha workshop, designed specifically for young people interested in writing speculative fiction. (Note: the Alpha workshop is not affiliated with Clarion West.)
No. We've had several students with no college education and several with PhDs.
You will hear by the end of March, though we do sometimes contact students before then.
No. There are so many compelling reasons for this that they are too numerous to mention. Suffice it to say: just don't do it. Your application is better served by showing us how creatively you write rather than how creatively you interpret the application guidelines.
Sorry, we can only do this if your home country is the United States, as the processing fees for non-U.S. currency are just too high.
The Clarion West Experience
Wild. Wonderful. Intense. Insane. Suddenly you have 17 new friends who are as passionate about writing science fiction/fantasy as you are. You get to know six professionals who are equally passionate, and who reveal amazing things about writing -- your writing. It's amazing and liberating, and you'll work harder than you've ever worked in your life. And love every minute of it. There's not enough time in the day. You need your sleep, you don't dare sleep. You speak in code. Six weeks fly by, and the real world seems pale and dull.
Several personal accounts have been posted online in various reports and web journals. You can find links to several of these on our Resources page under the heading "Grads on the Web."
Classes usually last all morning, and each participant gets a chance to critique every story handed in the day before. Afternoons and evenings are free for writing, reading, critiquing, and/or sleeping.
The routine can vary from year to year according to the preferences of each class...and each instructor. Sunday nights usually feature a meeting with the coming week's instructor(s) and possibly an assignment for the coming week. Some years, the participants have elected to have a large group dinner at that time to kick off each week. Many instructors will also allow each student to sign up for a private or a small group conference with the instructor during appointment times scheduled throughout the week.
Yes. Clarion West now rents out a sorority house for the duration of the workshop and we are charged rent based on the number of students in the workshop. As a nonprofit organization, we can't afford to pay rent for students who live off-site. Besides, living in the house together is an integral part of the Clarion West experience, and in the past students who didn't live in the dorm regretted it. They missed the midnight runs to the pancake house, the best gossip (which always happens after midnight and at odd times on the weekends), not to mention the "running down the halls screaming half-naked because the damn character just did something weird and the story is due tomorrow morning" bonding moments. They missed the opportunity to hang out with the instructors at meals and when they stopped by the living room for an hour, and missed chats with famous authors who stopped by for a visit. And, hey, who wants to miss that kind of fun?
When you feel ready, which is sometime after you've slugged it out on your own for a while, but before you're a seasoned professional. Maybe you know there's something wrong with your work but don't quite know what it is, exactly. Or maybe you do know what your weaknesses are and need help correcting them.
If you sincerely feel that you are God's Gift to Writing and that your classmates will humble themselves before your brilliance, and the teachers will hold up your work as an example of Pulitzer material in the making, then you probably won't have a good workshop experience.
After Clarion West
The next year out, nobody. Shortly after that you may see stories here and there, maybe even a novel or two, and the odd name on an editorial masthead. Ten years out, only a few in the class will still be working toward professional writing careers, and one or two will be well on their way and may even be quitting their day jobs. The other two-thirds typically get waylaid by career and family pressures, though they remain enthusiastic about their workshop experience. The really amazing, mysterious thing is that you can't tell at the outset who will end up where.
Not the whole Clarion West experience, but you can get a taste at Potlatch, a convention that always includes a Clarion-style writers workshop. Potlatch is a traveling convention that wanders from Seattle to Portland to the San Francisco Bay area. Please visit our Potlatch page for more information about the upcoming event.
A number of other science fiction conventions run writers workshops. Check with the con's programming committee. A "Clarion-style" workshop allows all the participants to read and critique everyone's work (as opposed to seating a panel of professionals to critique one writer at a time).
No, Grasshopper, you can never go back. But there is a Clarion West master's class available in two books: PARAGONS, edited by Robin Wilson (1996, St. Martin's Press) and THOSE WHO CAN (revised edition 1996, St. Martin's Press, out of print but widely available at online and physical used bookstores). They contain essays on writing by Greg Bear, Pat Cadigan, Nancy Kress, Howard Waldrop, and a bunch of our other favorite Clarion West instructors.