The Clarion Write-A-Thon started yesterday, mirroring the 6-week timeframe that those accepted into the Clarion writer’s workshop are doing their work. The Write-A-Thon is a fundraiser for the workshop.
Over on his blog, Write-A-Thon’er and class of ’08 participant Ferrett Steinmetz shared an email he had received. The email talked about how Neil Gaiman was giving a talk at Cambridge University and mentioned a conversation that he had with a student in 2008.
one of the students came up to him one day and asked, “So, who here do you think will make it?” The student pointed at a couple of the more ‘advanced’ writers, and said “Them?” And Neil said “I don’t know who’s going to make it. But I know that to make it you have to write. Just write, as much as possible.”
Ferrett went on to explain that while that was true, if it hadn’t been for Clarion, he never would have challenged himself to become a professional writer.
I used to question how people could afford to attend Clarion. After all, it’s a 6-week, immersive program in San Diego (or Seattle for Clarion West… aren’t they both pretty much ‘west?). You have to come up with the money for tuition, room and board and you can’t telecommute to your job during that time. The total cost minus travel expenses and application fees is just under $5000. There are scholarships available, however the answer it would seem, is that very few people have the time or resources to make it happen. Only those who are ready to ‘make the leap’ as it were in the hopes of a grand payoff. And that’s not said in a bitter way, it’s more of a realization. You have to have complete trust in yourself as a writer and your future as a professional in order to make this step. I would love to be able to cultivate that degree of confidence.
Have you ever considered an immersive writing program? Have you made the leap? How did you (or would you) make it happen?