If you’re a writer, you know this and don’t need to hear it again, but sometimes it needs to be said anyway:
Be stubborn. Don’t you fucking dare give up*.
With the caveat that that’s all only part true. Sometimes things are hard and letting go can be good (and oh, wow, have I ever learned that these past few months). Hold too hard and something might break, whether it be whatever you’re holding, or the hand that’s holding it. Keep an eye on yourself. Don’t run down your wick till it’s gone. Right now, I’ve a number of things I don’t know if I should relinquish or not (musical projects, the town I live in, peanut butter, to name a few), but some I know I’ll never step away from. Writing is one. Drumming is another, but tonight I’m writing on writing.
For three years, I’ve been applying to Clarion (and Clarion). In short–for those who don’t know–Clarion is kinda the ultimate place to study writing as an science fiction/fantasy writer. There are a number of locations, best known (from my perspective, at least) probably being Clarion West in Seattle and Clarion UCSD in San Diego. The first two years, I applied to Clarion West. I was rejected both times (waitlisted the first, though). Time number three, I told my self third time pays for all, and applied to both (wait, does that make it four times?). Clarion West rejected me (this is what happens when you live away from home for four years; it gives up on you). Clarion UCSD did not.
Getting the acceptance was one of those moments where you gulp and then stand up and put your hands on your head in wonder and then pace a little and then sit and grin and fidget, then start the whole flabbergasted process again (and again). The application process is extremely competitive and there are so many mind blowing SF/F quilldrivers out there, I keep having to reign in the imposter’s syndrome. But I guess the past two years of rejection and hard writing weren’t for nothing.
There are others out there who are better writers than I, who have been applying a lot longer (Emma Osborne, for example, applied five years before getting in on the sixth, this year). You just never know when you’re going to strike out or strike gold. Emma Osborne said it better, but I want to express similar sentiments: if you didn’t get accepted this year, I’m sorry. I know that bitter-sick feeling and I hope next year you get to feel the weird anxious joy of getting a letter or acceptance. But if you’re a writer, you probably know that this is how it goes. You get rejected and it fucking sucks and then, if you can manage it, you settle in for the long haul and keep on wording the words–unless you don’t want to or can’t. And that’s okay. It’s okay to say not today. Or never again. But if you do want it, get up and try again. Bruises and all. Blood, scabs, and calluses.
For those who want more Clarion, need some guidance on how to apply (or if you should apply), or if you just want to see who is going to be attending this year (2016), click over to my other post Clarion Materials and the Classes of 2016.
*I want to clarify: when I say don’t give up, I don’t just mean the long reach for publication. If that’s important to you, obviously don’t fucking give up on it. Other people have written on all that, at length, so you don’t need me to go on about how it’s hard, it may or may not happen, but it’s definitely not going to happen if you don’t try. But publication doesn’t utterly define a writer, and if that’s not what you’re seeking, no problem. That said, if you want to write, then write damn it. It’s not always easy I know, but do what you can. One word. One letter.