I’m thinking about trying out for the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing Workshop. It really would be trying out because Clarion is the most distinguished writing workshop in the world, they get thousands of applications every year and only take on a handful of students. I don’t think I have two short stories yet that would get me on the course, but I have two on the go that might and have until March to get them done, alongside continuing work on the book.

Thinking about Clarion makes me realise how stupidly attached to science fiction and fantasy I am. I’m making an effort to read more outside the genre this year, although the copy of Ray Bradbury’s ‘Something Wicked this Way Comes’ propped open next to my computer even as I type suggests I’m not doing so well (It’s a work of genius though so maybe thats OK). Its really difficult because there is so much great genre fiction I haven’t read yet. I still really need to get into Harlan Ellison. I’ve barely scraped the surface of Gene Wolfe. And then there is the Gollancz Future Classics imprint just started up. Thats just the tip of the iceburg. How the hell am I supposed to lever Ian McEwan inbetween that lot?

The thing I’m most hooked on with SFF is the actual craft that goes into making it. Clarion would be a chance to be completely immersed in studying that craft for six weeks with real professional writers (Did I mention Neil Gaiman and Kelly Link are both tutors for ’08. I know from experience I don’t react normally to the reality of Neal Gaiman actually existing in the mortal world. He’s on that list of people who are too famous to be real like David Bowie and Alan Moore. I spent three hours stalking him round Nottingham city centre last year and I’m pretty sure he clocked my face. It would be really embarrassing to get thrown out of Clarion for stalking.)  Its an expensive opportunity though. For the price of that six weeks I could probably write full time for six months. I think the experience and chance to learn would be worth the trade though, so I think I’m going to go for it.

Published by Damien Walter

Writer and storyteller. Contributor to The Guardian, Independent, BBC, Wired, Buzzfeed and Aeon magazine. Special forces librarian (retired). Teaches the Rhetoric of Story to over 35,000 students worldwide.

2 thoughts on “Clarion

  1. Go for it! Sounds fab. Agree about SWTWC (btw). I think the fact that, “Nothing much else happened all the rest of that night.” or however it is exactly is one of my favourite chapters ever.


  2. Go for it! deffo! and if you do get thrown out for stalking Gaimen then that would just be hilarious! also McEwan isnt all thats cracked up to be!



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