Applying to Clarion… Again

I recently applied to the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop. If you’re not familiar with it, Clarion is a six-week intensive boot camp for speculative fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, horror) writers, with a focus on short stories. Students attend classes, write one story per week, review several stories a day, and attend all kinds of talks/gatherings. Since its inception in Pennsylvania in 1968, Clarion has moved locations a few times and spawned some offshoots. It’s currently offered once a year in two locations: UCSD in San Diego, CA (Clarion) and Seattle, WA (Clarion West). The application requires two short stories or one longer piece and some brief questions about yourself and how/why you write. Each Clarion likely receives hundreds of applicants, but they only accept around 18 students a piece. It’s not unheard of to apply several times before getting accepted (one student applied six times!).

I applied to Clarion UCSD last year (not West because it was online only, and I really wanted the in-person experience) and was rejected. I didn’t even get the higher tier “We really wanted to take you but couldn’t, please apply next year” rejection email – I got the standard “Thanks but no thanks” rejection. I knew it was highly unlikely that I’d be accepted on my first try, but wow, did it drag me down for a while.

This year, I applied to both Clarions. I should hear from them in the next few weeks, so fingers crossed! I think the two stories I submitted (one horror, one dark fantasy) were much stronger this time around, but I’ve prepared some playlists to comfort myself in the likely event of another rejection. One playlist has dark/goth rock to allow me to wallow in my misery for a while and one has my favorite songs from my high school/undergrad days to pull me back out of it.

Whatever the outcome, I’ll keep trying to improve. One thing you learn to live with as a writer is rejection. It sucks. It hurts in a way that few other things do. But I’ll dust myself off, pick up my laptop, and keep going because I f*cking love writing more than I f*cking hate rejection. Maybe I’ll even apply to Clarion again next year because the third (or fourth, fifth, sixth) time’s the charm, right?