Guest Post: Why You Don’t Want to Apply to Clarion West/Clarion UCSD.

by Helena Bell

Helena BellThe application season for Clarion West and other Clarion (UCSD) has begun.  I’ve already seen posts on twitter from past alums encouraging people to apply and telling the world what wonderful, glorious experiences they had.

I’m not going to do that.  I’m going to tell you not to apply.  To not go.  And here are my reasons:

1. At the Clarions you will meet bright, smart, wonderful people.

Why would you want to do that to yourself?  You’re a writer.  You don’t want friends.  Friends are the enemy.  Friends open your life to new adventures and make you experience joy and laughter.  Writing is the way of darkness and despair and beating yourself against the mountains of deathy blackness.  Who cares if misery keeps you from writing, it makes you a writer. Well, except for the fact that you’re not writing…  DETAILS.

2. Those friends will write wonderful stories.  Which you will then have to read.

Why do you want that? Why would you want to read wonderful stories that you yourself did not write?  Why would you want to dare let yourself be influenced by other points of view? Other styles of writing? Why would you want to see how others try out new techniques and take chances and grow and expand when it could take you 10 to 20 years to finally accidentally stumble upon the same things?

3.  Those friends will continue to talk to you after you all come home.

Support?  Commiseration?  What devilry is this!

4. Their failures, successes, and attempts will become as important to you as your own.

You will watch the Grinder daily to see which magazines are responding and what their average RTs are because you know that these demons, these people who snuck into your life, have stories sitting in submission queues and you are desperately anxious to know whether they’ve been held, rejected, or accepted.  You will celebrate with them, cry with them.  They will distract you from your own rejections and revel with you in your accomplishments.  HOW DARE YOU ATTEMPT TO ASSUAGE YOUR OWN PAIN AND/OREXPAND YOUR CIRCLE OF SQUEE.

5. Instructors? Pah.  What do a bunch of Nebula and Hugo Award nominated/winning, best seller writing, world renowned authors really know about writing and publishing. WHAT COULD AN EDITOR POSSIBLY TELL YOU ABOUT GETTING OUT OF THE SLUSH!

6. Did you know that it rains in Seattle?

Seriously. You could drown.  And Clarion UCSD is at the beach.  You could really drown.

Drowning is bad.

Sand is itchy.

7. You will probably end up buying a bunch of books.  Or being given a bunch of books by the people who like the Clarions and want to donate reading materials to the students.

Fuck that shit.  Books are heavy.

8. Everyone says that Clarion helped them take their writing to next level.  You know who tends to be at the end of levels?  Bowser.

9.  At the Clarion West house there will be a personal chef.  Who will make you delicious, delicious meals.


10. But the biggest, the most important, the KEY reason you don’t want to go to Clarion West or Clarion UCSD:

After six weeks it will be over.

You will go home.

You will be different, and changed, and have a new family.

And nothing will ever be the same.


Helena Bell lives in Raleigh, NC where she is an MFA candidate in Fiction at NC State University. Her work has appeared in ClarkesworldThe Indiana Review, and Electric Velocipede. Learn more about her at her blog, where this post first appeared.