Updates: Clarion, Shared Worlds, Anthos

First off, just a reminder: if you’re in high school and interested in being a SF/Fantasy writer or you’re the parent of a high school student looking for a creative writing experience involving SF and Fantasy for your teenager this summer…consider Shared Worlds. It’s two weeks of awesome fun and instruction that involves world-building, creative writing, working in teams and solo, and getting fascinating crash-courses in a number of subjects. Instructors include myself, Holly Black, Michael Bishop, Marly Youmans, Kathe Koja, and more. Attendees also have access to Wofford College professors. Also, artist Scott Eagle will drop by for a two-day workshop that’s going to be amazing. For more information, check out the site . There’s nothing else quite like it.

Meanwhile, as the anchor instructors for Clarion San Diego, we’ve been helping read applicant submissions. This week the final decisions will be made, including invites for the 18 slots and those of talent who are added to the wait list. Quite frankly, it’s been tough as heck to reach final decisions–there were so many worthy applicants that instead of inviting the maximum of 18, there could’ve been 30 invites without a dip in quality. Anyone who makes it in or makes it to the waiting list should be proud of that accomplishment. I know that the competition wasn’t nearly this tough the year I went, in 1992. (I also have to say that I was incredibly impressed by the fairness and structure of the selection process–kudos to Clarion San Diego for that.)

Finally, it looks like the big book of weird may be downsized by a couple hundred thousand words. Still waiting for the final word on that. Regardless, it’ll still be a huge anthology. (And we’ll have some new book announcements soon.)


  1. Jeff VanderMeer says

    It’s tough, I know, but one way or the other it isn’t the end of the world or the beginning of it. That helps not at all, I’m sure.

  2. emma says

    If it were just Clarion, I could handle the waiting. But the universe has apparently conspired so that this particular week is the week all the important decisions in my life will be handed down.

    I am curious, does Clarion get any applications that are easy to reject? Easy as in, “Instead of submitting two short stories, I am sending you a video of me playing the zoothorn”?

  3. Jeff VanderMeer says

    I don’t think it would be appropriate to comment–just don’t know the precedent for talking about the process–but of course with every sample of manuscripts there are stronger and weaker ones. These aren’t by any stretch of the imagination manuscripts that are perfect. If they were, then the applicants presumably wouldn’t be applying to Clarion. But for beginning writers, there were many very strong applicants. And there were more than twice as many applicants as when I went to Clarion in 1992.

    That’s probably as specific as I should get.

  4. Jeff VanderMeer says

    ohno–I almost feel like Dr. Seuss should answer that question. But then I don’t know a zoothorn from a zilitch, or a ring modulator from a smashaloon.

  5. ohno says

    I think the real thing she wanted to know was: does Jeff VanderMeer know what a zoothorn is..

  6. Jeff VanderMeer says

    If it doesn’t have to do with writing, Byzantine history, squid, or mushrooms, I don’t have a clue…


  7. thomtinuviel says

    My nails are beyond being bitten to the quick. I’ve started to eat my fingers, at this point. But it’s good to know that I’m not the only one going all pica. Thanks for the Clarion update.

  8. emma says

    Right, sorry, didn’t mean to ask for anything classified or inappropriate. I was actually thinking more along the lines of “paid but didn’t complete app” and that sort of thing. (Which is still none of my business!)

    Ohno, yes, that was the zoothorn I meant, although your technical explanation far exceeds my knowledge of how it works. I just like saying the word.

  9. jeff vandermeer says

    listen to radiohead’s in rainbows so u have to concentrate on it only. or afrikaa bambatta (sic) and dance a lot.

  10. thomtinuviel says

    In Rainbows! What a fantastic suggestion…although I think Kid A might be better for angst. If you hear Thom Yorke wailing “I’m not here! This isn’t happening!” overtop that beautiful strings arrangement, then you get the satisfaction of responding, “Eh. At least I’m not as miserable as this bloke.”

    Other soothing albums to consider for occasions such as these:
    Elbow – Asleep in the Back
    Yo la Tengo – And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out
    Beck – Sea Change

    And it is worth noting that any Sigur Ros album makes monotonous tasks somehow more epic and beautiful. Washing the dishes while someone behind you is screeching in Icelandic? You see glaciers under your eyelids. Suddenly those dishes are glimmering and your heart warms unnecessarily toward them. “Oh, fork. You’re just…beautiful. Those angles! Those prongs! Just…heaven personified! Forkified!”

    and the new Owen Pallett album has its merits.

    Distractions are best in musical form.
    Apologies for the indie rant. Apparently, when I’m nervous, my fingers get a bit too eager in the keyboard.

  11. Amiastine says

    Well, it sounds like I’m not the only one slowly developping a stomach ulcer from overstressing. That helps ease the pain a little bit… that and knowing that decision tome is looming.
    I just wanted to say thank you for taking the time to look at our applications. That on its own means a lot.

  12. says

    Oh, it was our pleasure, and the pleasure of the others reading, I know. Part of the stress on our side is making sure that we were thorough, that all the merits of every submission were debated as fully as possible, etc. Because we know how important this is to the applicants, and know that many of the folks who don’t get in are going to go on to full-on careers, and some of them will reapply next year or go to another workshop.

    It was invigorating to experience so many strong voices.


  13. Chris Herrmann says

    Being someone that got the reply back from Clarion today that I did not get in, it was still a blast working on stories for the application (and it got me out of a block rut); hoping to try again in the future.

  14. Amiastine says

    Same here.
    Rejection doesn’t taste very nice (but as a writer, it’s what you get served a lot of the time, right?) but it doesn’t mean you stop writing.
    Have fun in SD, Jeff.

  15. says

    There’s no b.s. in the statement that this was a really, really competitive year. I was kind of stunned, because our year way back in the age of dinosaurs in 1992 there were only 72 applicants, and more than twice that this time.

    I know it’s tough, but hang in there and keep plugging away. Clarion isn’t the end all or be all.

  16. says

    I was also rejected, sadly. I was very excited at the prospect of working with two VenderMeers and GRRM. I suspect many people were. I was surprised but shouldn’t have been; there are, as you said, a lot of very talented writers out there. And even though one of my app stories has been successful in its own right, tastes and opinions differ. If they didn’t, then it would be worthless to send rejected stories to other markets. Right?

    I’ve gone on about this on my own blog, so I won’t do it here. There are other years, other workshops, and other paths to success. Congrats to all those that made it and good luck. -SWB