Tags: clarion ucsd

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The 2014 Clarion UCSD Blog Post (of doom)

It’s that time of year again! This year, the Clarion UCSD Write-a-Thon runs from June 22 to August 2. Yesterday was the first day, and although I was generally distracted by BRIGHT SUNLIGHT, I completed 2 of my 150 hours of butt-in-chair time. I also completed my first SUPER SECRET blog post. :)

If you don’t know what the Write-a-Thon is, you can check out the main page here: http://clarionwriteathon.org/

My profile is here: http://clarionwriteathon.org/members/profile.php?writerid=457231

Short version is that I’m doing the Write-a-Thon to raise money for the Clarion UCSD workshop, which I attended in 2008. The workshop is a nonprofit, and it depends on donations to keep costs down for the students (and it’s already PLENTY expensive). Clarion is a six-week, intense science fiction/fantasy short story workshop. I had a blast while I was there and learned a ton, so I’d like the workshop to continue so that more people can attend in the future.

NOTE! (IF YOU TRIED TO DONATE IN THE PAST WEEK)

If you tried to send a donation in the past week, check my profile. So far, the only confirmed money I have is from the people who are listed on that page. The Write-a-Thon emails me to tell me when I receive donations or sponsorships, but it doesn’t send me an email or any other identifying information. If you tried to donate and never got a paypal login page, then something went wrong and you might have to try again. I know, it’s a bummer! I’m not sure who’s in charge of the site design, but I think it’s generally a work in progress each year.

You can also drop me a line in email (kehrli at gmail dot com), comments on my website, or in my tumblr ask box.

WHAT DO YOU GET

The satisfaction of having donated to an awesome workshop! And you have encouraged me not to just give up now! Yay! Encouragement! I am AN ENCOURAGEMENT SPONGE.

Also!

If you go to my member profile and either donate or sponsor me for $10 or more, I will send you the SUPER SECRET password and url for my clarion website. The posts will contain what I’m working on, as well as my discussion afterward regarding what I’m doing, why I’m doing it, and how I feel about what I’m writing. YES! You’ll get to read raw, unfinished fiction. O____O;

I will even answer process questions! Well, if you have them.

If $10 is a bit steep for a donation to a writing workshop, for $5, I’ll send you an ebook (hopefully I’ll be able to get it into mobi, epub, and pdf) containing several of my previously published stories, some of which are not currently available online.

If you have TONS of money to throw at good causes this month, and you drop $25 or more in my bucket (and are a writer), I will critique one of your short stories (up to 5000 words in length). I am a professionally published SF/F short story writer and I currently edit for Shimmer Magazine. I know things!

Obviously, this subdomain is already up (and I’ve just put up my post for Day 1), but the ebook is going to take a few more days to get put together. My critique turn around will be about a week after you send me the story, and you can wait to send me a story for critique until you’ve got one finished. :)

DONATION INSTRUCTIONS (kinda)

Finally, I know that the donation site is not completely intuitive. If you’re sponsoring, it should let you choose how much to sponsor me for (7 cents for each of the 150 hours will get you to about $10), and then it’ll just be done. If you’re not going to make an account and just want to donate, you should be able to choose to skip registration. After skipping registration and choosing an amount to donate, the website should automatically open PayPal or another payment window.

If it doesn’t open that up, you can either email the site or just try again. Otherwise, it’ll just show your donation as “unconfirmed” for a few days before it vanishes. Eep.

Also, although Clarion sends me an email from the treasurer to inform me that I’ve received sponsorships and donations, they do not share any of your information with me. Therefore, after donating, please drop me an email: kehrli at gmail dot com so I can send you the password / ebook / etc.

WHY AM I DOING THIS?

I’m using the Write-a-Thon this year to really get on track to write regularly. It’s taken several years to do this because it (embarrassingly) took until earlier this year for me to finally get treated for depression. It’s kind of a long story, but it’ll probably get mentioned in the posts when I discuss the problems I’m having jump-starting my writing productivity.

Back in 2008, I went to Clarion in San Diego, and it was definitely a life-changing experience. Prior to that, I hadn’t sold any short stories, so my acceptance into the workshop was the first time I got external validation regarding my fiction writing.

I have blogged occasionally about Clarion and what it meant to me. In order to read the posts that I wrote about Clarion while I was there (and a few I wrote afterward), check out the clarion and clarionucsd tags on my old LJ:

http://kehrli.livejournal.com/tag/clarion%20ucsd

http://kehrli.livejournal.com/tag/clarion

Anyway, thanks for visiting and/or donating! If you have any further questions, either pop them into the comment box here or drop me an email: kehrli at gmail dot com.

Even if you can’t/don’t feel like donating to Clarion or sponsoring me in the Write-a-Thon, please do share this with your friends, especially if any of them might be interested in reading my write-a-thon blog posts and/or getting a professional short story critique.

Originally published at Everything I do is SO fucking amazing that sparks are going to shoot out of your eyes.. You can comment here or there.

routine

3.5 years later, a Clarion post.

I’m always a little hesitant to talk people into going to Clarion. This isn’t a problem with Clarion, mind you, but rather one with me. (I even feel a little panicky just recommending stories to people to read because WHAT IF THEY DON’T LIKE IT THEN IT WILL BE MY FAULT THEY LISTENED TO ME WHY DOES ANYBODY LISTEN TO ME ANYWAY OH MY GOD.) Am I an anxious person? Nooooo.

So here’s the thing. I’m not going to tell you that Clarion is the best thing that will ever happen to you. I can tell you why it was awesome for me, though. I’ll assume that you are all brilliant people who know what you want.

Clarion was right for me because I have a meatgrinder attitude to my life. I know that some people do best by slowly and steadily working, by being stable and wonderful people. I’m not like that. I’ve never been so miserable as when I’ve tried to be like that. (And, oh, I have tried, on multiple occasions, but that’s for a different ALL ABOUT MEEEEEE post). Every so often, I need to throw myself off a cliff. A METAPHORICAL CLIFF.

In 2005, that was studying in Finland. In 2008, it was Clarion. (Oh crap, I’m due to do something wacky. >_> Adventure time!)

For that reason alone, I disagree that Clarion is like being a working writer. Being a working writer includes a lot more chasing payments, a lot more submitting, and a lot more wondering about getting a day job for health insurance.

Clarion is not easy. You will be pushed to write a story a week, while doing exercises and learning from your instructors, and especially, while reading 3-5 stories a night for morning critiques, AND writing useful critiques. Some people managed to write two stories in the six weeks. Some people wrote more than that. SOME people somehow manage to write FUCKING NOVELETTES EVERY WEEK. (Not that I’m bitter. Okay, maybe a little. That one night when we had like 30,000 words of fiction to crit was sort of brutal. I mean those nights. Hahaaaa…)

The thing is, I learned how to dismantle a story in twenty minutes or less. I learned which pieces went where, and how to tell when my objections were rooted in the story failing, or when it was just that pesky personal taste getting in the way. I learned how to listen to other people dismantling the same story – it is fascinating when you read a story two or three times and the next morning, someone else is able to succinctly describe everything you missed in it.

I learned how to love a story even after it had been cut into its individual component pieces, weighed, measured and described. I learned how to put it back together with clever stitches and sell the fucking thing.

I learned how to take crit. Before I went to Clarion, I would listen to critiques of my work (I had writer’s groups!) and would get confused or lost in the advice. I never knew what to do with it once I had it, and kept trying to do everything I was told by the critiquers. This? No. At Clarion, I would get 18 individual sets of comments about my stories, filtered through the strengths and interests of my classmates and instructors. There was too much to use it all, so I learned how to take what fit my vision of the story and toss the rest.

I’ve been asked things like: Did Clarion help you sell stories?

I always balk at that question because I don’t know how to answer it. I’m not sure how much of a leading question it is. Do I think that I sold any of my stories because I went to Clarion? Nobody looks at your cover letter and buys a story because you say that you went to Clarion. It’s possible that the first reader will be inordinately impressed by your cover letter, in which case the story better also be damn good, or they’ll be EXTRA disappointed and then THEY’LL NEVER BUY YOUR WORK AGAIN. Okay, actually that that last part is a lie. Probably.

After going to Clarion, I wrote better stories. Writing better stories meant that they sold. After Clarion, I was able to look at previously written stories and revise them to a quality that meant they could sell. So yes, Clarion helped me sell stories, but only because it helped me write salable stories.

That said, Clarion killed my webcomic. I will be writing another one, but post-Clarion, I could see the deep and unfixable problems with what I’d already written/published and where the story was going. It was, honestly, a necessary casualty.

There are two other things I want to say about my experience at Clarion, one good, and one bad.

The good: I am a transsexual man (I feel weird saying that, like… wait, there are people who don’t know that about me? I practically put it on a neon sign and carry it around.) Although I had been out to my friends in and around Bellingham, and although I had… tried… to pass as male when out and about in Finland, everyone saw through my clever binder/disguise. Plus, I didn’t say I’MADUDE, so I have no idea what people thought I was. Some kind of weird-ass American, I guess.

Clarion was the first place in the meatworld that I was considered and accepted as male as a rule (with the occasional slip-up). It was sufficiently outside of my normal life, surrounded by people who cared about things I liked (nerdery, writing, fiction), but who didn’t have prior knowledge of me as a woman. So that? That was good.

The bad: This one is hard to write, even now. It’s hard because it took several years after Clarion to get to the point where I could recognize it properly.

Clarion is a wonderful thing. It was possibly the best continuous six weeks in my life. And yet, it could have been even better.

I guess if you know me well, saying that I have a long-running relationship with depression is probably like coming out and saying, “GUESS WHAT! THE SKY! TOTALLY BLUE, Y’ALL.” But there were enough evenings I wish I’d spent throwing water balloons at Hugo award winning authors that I spent staring at the ceiling wondering if I was going to make it through, or if I was just wasting everyone’s time.

I’m not going to say, “Don’t go to Clarion if you have a mental illness.” That’s not the point. I made it through fine. What I am going to say is that if you’re depressed or anxious, that there’s no shame in dealing with that first before you jump in. Self-care is important. I am a little torn about it, due to the depression thing – it’s that fork in the road situation, you know? I sometimes wish I’d waited to go to Clarion until I had my head more firmly screwed on, but I also can’t imagine not having the classmates I had.

That said, there are Clarions every year, and there are wonderful people and wonderful instructors every year. If you want to go NOW, THIS YEAR, then apply. Don’t let the stupid things, like, “Oh, am I a good enough writer?” hold you back. (If you aren't, you won't get in! Deciding if YOU write well enough is Not Your Problem.) At the same time, if you look at this daunting task and it’s just not right for you RIGHT now? Go do what you need to do, and write some short stories, and apply next year. We’ll still be here.



... watching.
watergunkef

The Clarion UCSD Write-A-Thon!

Well, the write-a-thon has started!

This is my page (CLICK!), where you can go and give Clarion money, and then they can get the impression that I’m a great fundraiser.

If you want to browse the rest of the writers, and then give money to several of us, that’s cool, too! More information about sponsorship is here. Since they get charged a small fee per donation, you should use their “donate to multiple authors” feature if that’s your plan.

I meant to post about this well in advance and have some kind of wacky system of goals and prizes for people who donated to Clarion, but then I discovered that that stressed me out more than just about anything, because it requires me to assign some arbitrary value to my unvetted, unpublished work.

So, even though I’m asking you to donate to my write-a-thon sponsorship fund, I’m not going to tuckerize you (well, probably not), or post all the fiction I write for free on the internet, or make special hand-carved soap in the shape of your favorite cartoon character. If I think of anything cool (or someone suggests something cool), then I will do bonus stuff for meeting donation milestones, but I doubt I’ll do anything individualized.

If you donate to my fund, you get to feel warm and fuzzy inside because you’ve helped Clarion keep on keeping on, and you’ve made ME feel all warm and fuzzy inside because there are people who like my fiction enough to sponsor me. Then, you know, I’ll not be so freaking neurotic, and will get some stuff out and in slush piles, instead of… yes. You can probably count on some type of bragging rights if anything I write gets published. “Keffy never would have written that story if I hadn’t given money to Clarion to make him feel like he’d better get off his ass and actually DO the Write-A-Thon, instead of playing Bejeweled Twist and moping.”

I’m ALSO going to make a concerted effort to blog for the next six weeks, mostly about writing-related topics, in which I will do everything BUT give out sage advice, because a) who the fuck am I to be giving out advice and b) if I do give out advice, it sure as fuck isn’t going to be sage c) I have many opinions and most all of them are wrong.

Oh, but I should have some kind of goals, right?

Hm.

So this is where the confession comes in. I haven’t been writing every day. In fact, I haven’t been writing most days, because this is apparently not how I work. Yeah, I know. So for the write-a-thon, for all 42 bloody days of doom and fiction, I will write every day. Even if it’s like pulling out my finger nails with tweezers, and I cry tears of angst and woe about the crap I’m putting into Microsoft Word and calling fiction.

I’m not so super-keen on wordcount goals anymore, partly because I failed at NaNoWriMo last year (I know, I know, I can barely look myself in the mirror anymore), but mostly because of the way my writing process has changed since, oh, 2004 or so. But! I will write, um, 500 words a day, of some variety of fiction.

Plus, you know, blogging three times a week. This doesn’t sound tremendously grueling, or impressive, until you consider that I’ve been blogging 1-2 times a month lately, and spending the rest of the time rolling around on the floor in my room screaming, “I WISH TO SPEAK, BUT I HAVE NOTHING TO SAAAAAY.”

Because, really, it’s not like that ever stops anybody else from talking on the internet.

I’ll try to make the blogging only occasionally be me whining about the other stuff I’m supposed to be doing besides writing. Like, you know, the day job (which is something I actually love, even if I am the biggest whiner this side of the Cascades) or taking organic chemistry.

Tomorrow or Wednesday, I’ll write something sappy about how much Clarion meant to me, even if the only edible food in the cafeteria was the ice cream and sausage.

Despite being a lazy jerk, I currently have:

6 sponsors
$195 in donations

SUPER SUPER HUGE RIDICULOUS GINORMOUS THANK-YOU to everybody who has donated so. far. Because, WOW.

I should do something cool when I hit $300. Suggest stuff in the comments! Hilarious is good. You can also suggest blog topics if there's something you've been burning to see me run my mouth about.

(This usericon was taken at Clarion, and I am wearing my "Critique Goggles" which I found for $2 at Goodwill the day before I got on the plane.)