Inhuman Swill : Clarion
            

Clarion West Writers Workshop

Help support one of the very best writing programs in the speculative fiction field!

The Clarion West Writers Workshop kicks off its summer session for 2016 in Seattle this week, bringing students from around the world together with accomplished professionals in the field for an intensive six-week workshop in science fiction and fantasy writing.

Clarion West (together with the original Clarion Workshop on which it was modeled) does important work in the field, giving new writers the technical and critical tools they need to succeed commercially and artistically. I know. I attended Clarion in 1985, and it's no exaggeration to say the experience changed my life.

But Clarion West can't do what it does without community support. How can you help? Every year the Clarion West Write-A-Thon runs concurrently with the workshop itself, encouraging participating writers to set and pursue their own summer writing agendas. My goal is a modest 1,000 words a week for the duration of the Write-A-Thon, which you can support by sponsoring me here:

→   Sponsor Bill   ←

Of course, there are many other writers participating besides me. If you'd prefer to sponsor one of them, instead of or in addition to me, please feel free! Or you can participate directly by signing up for the Write-A-Thon and finding your own sponsors.

As an added bonus, if you're in or near New York City, I will be leading a weekly Write-A-Thon meetup at New York City Bagel & Coffee House in Astoria, Queens. Click here for more details.

But however you choose to help Clarion West, please do it now! Every little bit helps.

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Thefts from Clarion West

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[info]albionidaho reports laptops and other items stolen yesterday from students in one of the Clarion West houses. Not a happy Fourth for them. I can only imagine how that would affect the Clarion experience for the theft victims, especially if there was work-in-progress on the machines. What can you do to help? See her post for more info.

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Remembering Algis Budrys

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Algis J. Budrys
It was a simple drive twelve miles north this morning to get to Skokie for Algis Budrys's memorial service. Laura was unable to join me so I went alone, and I found when I arrived at the funeral home that there was no one there I knew. Actually, I did meet Ajay's dear wife Edna back in 1985, but I wouldn't have expected her to remember that brief occasion all these years later.

I don't do very well in crowds where I don't know anyone—heck, I can get intimidated in crowds where I do know people—so I sort of slinked around at the back of the room, feeling somewhat like an intruder. Two display tables helped me occupy myself. One was covered with an arrangement of various editions of Ajay's books. The other displayed a selection of interviews with and articles about him, both from print sources and online. On a widescreen television ran a slideshow of photos of Ajay and his family.

The service began not long after I arrived, and I found a seat toward the back. There were fifty or sixty people in attendance, I would estimate, and the number of chairs for everyone was almost exactly right. A pastor spoke for a few minutes about Ajay's greatness as a husband and a father and a writer, and offered a prayer. Then she turned the time over to Ajay's sons.

Jeff shared remembrances and appreciations of Ajay he had gathered from people online over the preceding few days. Among the poignant, funny, and just simply factual snippets he read, I was startled to hear a line I had written in a brief post on Monday. Tim expressed his good fortune at being able to spend many of his adult summers with his parents' house as a home base, and shared an observation an associate at a Renaissance fair had made—that no wonder he seemed so even-keeled, with parents who had always stayed together. Dave recounted the last years and final days of Ajay's life, when despite setback after setback, Ajay had remained cheerful and become even more of a sweet man. All three sons credited their parents with giving them the space to do their own thing—as long as they did something. There was also much talk of Ajay's prowess as a bicycle builder and mechanic—the boys grew up having by far the best bikes around, at a time when 10-speeds were still exotic—and stories like the time he singed his eyebrows off cleaning bike parts with gasoline.

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I just heard from Geoff Landis that Algis Budrys passed away this morning. He was one of the great writers, editors, critics, and teachers of science fiction, and as the first week's instructor for my Clarion class in 1985, he certainly had a profound influence on my early development as a writer. I'm very sad to hear this news, especially given that I now live so close to Evanston, Illinois, where he made his home for so long.

I've pulled Rogue Moon down from the shelf and intend to start re-reading it tonight, something I've meant to do for a very long time.

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Over in her journal, [info]sallytuppence posed this question: "I'd like to hear, either in comments or linked to an entry in your blog, about how you started writing. I don't want to hear that you were a writer ever since you could hold a crayon in your chubby little hand, no. I want to hear about how you got serious as a writer. What catalyzed it? When did you start thinking of yourself as a writer?"

Though I've talked about some of this before, I thought I'd repost my answer here:

I suppose you could say I got the crayons from my first grade teacher. I was in a combined first/second/third grade class at Buchanan Street Elementary School in Los Angeles when I was six. It was October and our teacher announced a Halloween short story contest for the class. All the entries would be read aloud, and the class would vote on the winner.

Most of the stories were happy little tales of ghosts and haunted houses. I, who liked to scare myself watching bits of "The Outer Limits" and "Night Gallery" on TV when I wasn't supposed to, wrote a little story called "Rattlesnaks [sic] and Cobras." It was a first-person story where the narrator gets attacked by shapechanging snakes in his backyard and dies.

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Clarion, My Wayward Son

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By the way, in the process of editing down my memoir for my agent to send it out again in May, I compressed four chapters dealing with my stint at the Clarion workshop down to one. The original four chapters are now posted on my site at:

http://www.shunn.net/writing/clarion

The excerpt deals more with the experience of being a Mormon among gentiles for the first time than it does with the mechanics of the workshop itself.

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The Accidental Terrorist 30th Anniversary Sale

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William Shunn

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