For those of you tired of all this science fiction and writing stuff, I promise I’ll cut back on it once the week is up. Before I get back to writing up WisCon panel reports, I want to tell you about this other cool thing I’m doing.
Four years ago I attended a workshop for Science Fiction and Fantasy writers called Clarion West. It’s a 6 week workshop where students are encouraged to write a story every week. Every week there’s a different instructor — professional, working writers who take time out to read everyone’s stories, give feedback, and teach us a little of what they know. Clarion can’t teach a person how to write (in fact, you have to know how already in order to get in), but it can give new writers the skills to move up to a professional level.
My time at Clarion West was so wonderful and productive. I got to meet some of my writer heroes (Nancy Kress and Samuel R. Delany in particular, but all of my instructors rocked the house), make friends with my amazing fellow students, and was warmly accepted into the Seattle SF community.
Of course, the workshop was not just meeting cool people and hanging out. There was work to do. Every week day I read and critiqued stories by others students and every week (except the first week) I turned in a new story. It was hard work. Rewarding, yes. But hard. Still, I came out on the other side a better writer. I wouldn’t trade my time at CW for anything.
Once you go to Clarion West, you can’t go back (no matter how cool the instructors are!) But every year for the past three I’ve participated in the Shadow Clarion West, as some of us like to call it. We alumni who long to return share a little of the experience by setting writing goals — one new story a week, one chapter of our novel a week, etc. — we aim for during the time Clarion West is going on. This year, that’s from June 17th through July 27th. This year, I intend to write four new stories and revise two stories. One a week for six weeks.
The goal is not only to relive a little of the Clarion experience and to get some writing done, but also to raise money for the workshop and a scholarship (more on that below). Clarion West is a non-profit venture and gets its money from donations, auctions, and other such fundraising activities. The administrators work really hard to make sure the students have everything they need. From a comfortable place to stay during the workshop to food to eat and lots more. Plus, they do pay the instructors a little bit of money for their time. And they try to provide financial aid to students who need it. It takes a lot of money to run a thing like this. And we alumni like to help with that as much as we can. So during these six weeks of writing, I am also raising money by asking for sponsors. It’s like a marathon, except for with writing. This is why it’s called a Write-A-Thon.
How this sponsorship thing works:
I set goals for myself, as I mentioned before. I’m writing or revising a story/week. If you would like to sponsor me, you would say “I’ll donate $50 for each week you reach your goal.” So if I write or revise 6 stories, you send $300. If I, for some reason, miss one week’s goal, you send in $250.
You can donate any amount. From $10/goal to $100/goal or more. You decide. My hope is to raise $500 total, but if I were to raise more it would fill me with joy.
Half of the money I raise will go to Clarion West, who will divide the money between admin stuff and financial aid. The other half of the money will go to a specific scholarship I want to support: The Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship Fund administered by the Carl Brandon Society. The Butler scholarship is given to two students of color accepted to the Clarion West and Clarion workshops (they are two different entities, click on the links to see why). I believe that they raised enough money to provide full scholarships to this year’s chosen recipients.
This scholarship is important to me for the obvious reasons. Also, when I applied to Clarion West, I didn’t really have the money to go. But I had the time and the opportunity, so I went for it. When I got in, I asked for financial aid, hoping I would get some money and then find a way to get the rest. Then I got the shock of my life when the administrators told me that an anonymous donor had paid my full tuition. Specifically did so for me! I still don’t know who that person is/was (though someone once gave me a hint), but I will always be grateful to them. One of the ways I can honor this person is by doing what I can to help other writers of color who may only be able to come if they get this scholarship.
By the way, if you’re interested in supporting this scholarship regardless of the Write-A-Thon, they have a fund drive going on right now. If they are able to raise $1,500 by June 16th, LA Con will donate $1,500 to the fund. Combined, that’s one full scholarship for one student. Last I heard, they still had $500 left to go. To help them reach that goal, please donate here.
If you are interested in sponsoring me, leave a comment indicating such on this post. I’ll contact you privately by email with details on how the payment part will work. Yes, the donations are tax-deductible. It’s simple, I promise. And won’t require lots of work.
What do you get if you sponsor me? Other than the satisfaction of helping along a new crop of SF writers, of course. Anyone who sponsors me for $15/week or more gets to see all of the stories I’m writing/revising once I’m done. I’ll email them to you or I’ll show you the secret place I post works in progress online. If you sponsor me for $50/week, I’ll name a character or a place in one of these stories after you. I’m crap at coming up with names, so you’d be helping me out, really. If you get on board with $100/week or more, I’ll send you a signed copy of the latest anthology I’m in, Interfictions. That book has some amazing fiction in it. Mine pales compared to the other stories.
So, as I said, the Write-A-Thon starts June 17th. Blogging will probably be light, but not too light. I need a break from all that intensity. If you’d like to sponsor, use the contact form below. And remember, the money is going to Clarion West and the Butler scholarship, so you’re supporting writers of color and the other writers who will have the benefit of diverse voices in the class.
ETA: Just so you guys know, the box right above this is to send me email. If you want to comment, you’ll need to click the “# Comments” button near the title of this post or use the input box underneath this at the bottom of the page. :) It’s confusing, sorry, I just wanted to make it easy for folks to email me directly.