My warmest congratulations to the students admitted to the Clarion Writers Workshop Class of 2011:
Well done! You’re in for the ride of your lives.
You have all probably seen these already, but there is a wealth of old journal entries, reminiscences, etc. about Clarion. The formidable azahru, my roomie from Clarion 2009, has assembled a comprehensive guide to such entries: http://lizargall.com/2009/03/clarion-blogs/, including mine.
Let me repeat, for what it’s worth, the words of advice I gave the Class of 2010 upon their admission:
- Take care of each other. The instructors are phenomenal, but it’s the other students who will make this work. As Kat Howard (’08) put it, those other seventeen people are your family, your best friends. Cherish them, and help them grow.
- Don’t worry about the food. It’s college cafeteria food, but no worse than that. Much of it is just fine. Don’t expect a restaurant, and don’t expect your mom’s home cooking. Balance your food groups, yada yada. (But Kat et. al. were right to warn against the squid patties. They caught me unawares. And I ate mine with mayonnaise, which was — never mind.) The one thing I would say is that you can often predict conditions in the cafeteria by watching the changing population of other summer groups on campus. When there are lots of ’em, food will be plentiful and interesting, but the lines will be a bitch. When there are very few others, pickings may be slim.
- Your classmates will appreciate it if you get your story printed before dinner the day it’s due. Y’all will be staying up late enough as it is.
- Clarion is a Sleep Deprivation Experiment, so catch sleep whenever you can. Myself, I often took naps in the afternoon when the stories-to-critique hadn’t been printed out yet.
- There’s a tendency to imprint on the current week’s instructor (especially the first week), and to feel suspicious and shy around the next one. What’s amusing is that this happens over and over, week after week. This discomfort is especially pronounced on the Saturday/Sunday when the changeover happens. So, on the weekend, go out of your way to be welcoming to the new instructor, who can probably feel the shyness etc. coming off y’all in waves.
- Take every opportunity given to you to submit your writing to your peers. I know it’s tough to churn out a new story every week, but even if you produce 3,000 words of dreck one week (I did!), but it’s priceless.
- In the words of blackholly, our first week instructor, “Take big risks, and fail spectacularly.” I did that too. It was fun. Sort of.
Bless you all. Go forth and conquer!