It’s been less than a week since my Clarion West (CW) adventure concluded, and I’m still readjusting to normal life and catching up on all the e-mails I’ve been ignoring for six weeks or more. I’m almost done clearing out my inbox, and then I’ll dive into the novel rewrites that this guy is patiently waiting for.
Also: while I was searching to verify those blog links, I found K.C. Ball’s “Missing Mike.” Which, you know, fuck cancer. But it also made me wonder about who in my CW class I would lose track of over the next few years.
Something similar happened after I attended Viable Paradise (VP) in 2008: a few people had early successes, some hit it big later on, some don’t do much writing any more (for various reasons), and some I’ve never heard from again. I gather that’s pretty normal for most writing workshops, especially those who make an effort to emphasize diversity. That’s not just gender or racial diversity; age and personal background are also huge factors. People arrive at CW and VP with varying levels of experience, both professional and personal. And the group dynamic is always changing, and depends on individual people to steer it toward something positive.
I had a great time at both VP and CW, though I understand it’s not always great for everyone. Some people work better in less stressful environments, and sometimes social groups coalesce better than at other times. I feel like the folks running VP and CW do the best they can, and it’s up to the students to meet each other in the middle.
Look, I know I’m not the right guy to be talking about this. As I discussed with one of my CW instructors in our one-on-one meeting, I am aware that I personally occupy a weird position of partial privilege: I am a tall, normal-looking male, and though I’m obviously non-white, I belong to a “model minority” group to which many people automatically assign certain positive traits. And hell, I signed an agent while I was at CW; I am the poster child for “results not typical.”
All I can say is that I had an amazing CW experience. It was exactly what I expected, and also a whole lot more. Good things happened, interesting things happened, and now we’ll see what happens next.