Would You Like Some Malaise On The Side With That Order?
I was cruising around and found this on secritcrush. It's a little piece on her thinking about her own writing.
Someone on my friends list mentioned Clarion this morning. My writing career is very much divided in my head into pre-Clarion and post-Clarion eras. Most particularly because I haven't been very happy with my writing at all since Clarion. I've been feeling like my stories were uninspired, uninteresting and generally all kinds of meh. And it was pretty near impossible for me to see the good things in them because I was so busy looking at the flaws.
Unsurprisingly (to me anyway), I hadn't sold a single thing I'd written after Clarion until this past week.
The good news is I am finally emerging from this malaise. I'm really enjoying writing again, and feel like I'm writing interesting things, the sorts of stories that I'm the only one who can tell them, and feeling good about the whole thing.
Which is eleven kinds of awesome.
Clarion is boot camp. Clarion is rebreaking bones so they'll heal better. Both metaphors can apply, though your mileage will vary as to which one hurts more. (grin)
No Doubt About It
Clarion is most definitely a life changing experience, though not always in the ways we thought it might be when we fired off the application letters. (grin) Amongst my Clarion class of 2004 are those who have published short stories, novels, been published in one or more of the majors, established small presses -- all sorts of things. Some have not publicly written anything since. That is they may be writing but they're not talking. Others have been writing but not selling. Some of us have had a couple of trickles here and there
There was always plenty of lore on the Web that this business was slow and frustrating before we got to Clarion. And Clarion doesn't necessarily speed this process. While you might've spent six weeks being more productive than you've ever been, you've also exposed a whole lot of raw nerves and old wounds, and it takes time to put it all back in the box and make it work again.
There's the old joke that the anointed writer/instructors gather around and hand you your secret decoder ring at the end of the workshop, so you now know the secret to getting published and becoming a successful writer. If there is a secret decoder ring, though, they hand it to you without any directions.
Why Would Anyone DO This To Themselves?
-- Doctor, doctor, my head hurts like hell when I bang it against the wall. -- Why are you banging your head against the wall? -- Because it feels so good when I stop. --
If you have to ask, then maybe you are ready for a Clarion. Or maybe you've never thought about it before. When I applied, not only did I have the time and the money and the support from Mrs. Dr. Phil, but I also knew I needed to do something to stir things up. The phrase "take it to the next level" is so overused, but it reflects a certain sentiment, a mindset. I can write, I can put together a story, I can finish it, I can send it out, I can take rejection. But if I wanted to go further, I needed some help. Clarion was one way to get that help.
Bridging The Gap
It's easy to look at what I've done pre- and post-Clarion and see a difference. I've been writing for decades, especially the fifteen years before Clarion, and so I'm still working with material and stories started pre-Clarion. But I'm also writing totally new stuff. So my current output is a blend. Hopefully I'm taking the best of both eras... or at least working in that direction.