This year I experienced the most transformative event in my life – I attended Clarion UCSD, the writer’s workshop that changed me in ways I didn’t imagine. For those who are not in the know about Clarion, it’s an writers’ workshop in San Diego that lasts for six weeks. I liken it to a Battle Royale for writers where everyone walks away as a winner, if a bit unhinged after all the writing, reading and critiquing. Gregory Frost, who helmed the first week, described it as an ‘MFA in six weeks’ and it’s an apt comparison. Continue reading
Clarion is behind me, although I find it hard to believe that I am back in the real world even after a week in Bulgaria. I promise to write about the workshop, but I need more time to sit down and internalize what happened, because I have never been a part of a workshop and as some of you may know Clarion distorts time in peculiar ways. I’ll try to write up my surreal experience working and living with another seventeen writers later in the week. Continue reading
A short update.
I have successfully passed the visa interview, which means that I will be going to Clarion with a 100% certainty. On Facebook, I’ve been giving steady updates on my progress, but I wanted to write something a bit more permanent. With the plane tickets bought and the visa secured, I can now say for sure that the whole endeavor has been a huge success.
I haven’t sent off the rewards until I was certain I would go, because if I didn’t get a visa then I would have to return all the donations. Thankfully, it didn’t come to this and today I sent off a ‘thank you’ email along with rewards to most of the backers. If you haven’t received this email, then please be a bit more patient, because I’m waiting on the publishers to provide me with access to the digital copies.
I imagine I should have all rewards sent by the middle of next week. I will write an update as soon as I have completed the task.
Thank you for your patience.
And this has been me for since I got my visa:
This post has been due for some time, but I do hope you excuse my tardiness as my family is currently grieving the sudden loss of a close relative. The funeral took the momentum out of me, but I do wish to thank you for the support and generosity. I wouldn’t be going to Clarion without you and I can’t find the vocabulary to express my gratitude to all 95 individuals who donated!
The campaign didn’t reach its original goal, but it has been sufficient. The workshop fee has been paid. Tickets (I found a killer deal in the last moment) have been reserved and I’m on the road to sorting through the paperwork. What remains to be seen is whether or not I’ll get the coveted Visa. It’s all very frightening when one thing you’re not in control of can potentially snuff out your dream… Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.
As for the rewards, I’ll begin emailing people with their rewards starting this week (Wednesday as I have to compile every email in a sheet based on donation groups). Most will be sorted through immediately, but as the files are coming from different places, I don’t have complete control as to when they will be sent to me to redirect your way.
I’ll update this space often on my progress.
Disclaimer: This campaign is incredibly time sensitive, which I why I can’t go for the standard crowdsourcing websites as they take up to 15 days to process funds – way too late for the deadline on the fee.
UPDATE: THE CAMPAIGN HAS OFFICIALLY CLOSED! I HAVE RECEIVED ENOUGH FUNDS TO GET ME THROUGH THE TRAVEL FEE, SO THANK YOU FOR ALL WHO HAVE DONATED.
The Short Version:
I’ve been invited to attend this year’s Clarion UCSD workshop. As a speculative fiction writer who wants to build a career in genre writing, this is a dream come true as this is not just a workshop, but a life changing experience. BUT it will cost me a total of $3682 to go!
I want to take this next step in my development, but I can’t do it on my own. I’m from a still developing country with a weaker currency compared to the US dollar.
The Full Story and What I Need:
In early March, I learned I’d been accepted to attend Clarion USCD 2014 and even received a scholarship. Clarion has been a life dream of mine and these $3682 will change not only my writing, but my whole life. Attending is proof that a non-native speaker can master writing in English. In the past, I’ve been told to not bother writing in a different language. I want to prove that I don’t need to be a native speaker to tell a good story.
I want to be a voice for my culture. I want to represent LGBTQ writers. I want to bring more diversity into speculative fiction and I believe Clarion can give my voice power.
However, even with a scholarship, the fee to attend is $1382, and needs to be paid by the 22nd of April. At the same time, I face a travelling fare of at least $2300, which includes changing two planes from two different airports and some incredibly pricey paperwork.
I don’t have the means to pay these sums on my own. Because I’m a Bulgarian native and not a native English speaker, I’ve experienced difficulty finding better paying freelance writing jobs and can currently only work towards covering my basic living expenses. All my savings have gone to help my family through a very unforgiving year, so I can’t rely on anyone else, except for the community that has made me feel accepted for so many years.
$2300 is the pure minimum, covering the plane tickets and paperwork. I’m working hard on saving every commission I earn on additional fees and expenses, including living expenses once I arrive in the US. Every bit on top makes this become a lesser struggle.
What This Campaign Offers You:
Thanks to the generosity of all editors and publishers who have published me in the past, I can offer digital editions of the following works I’m published in or have helped edit.
TALES OF THE FOX & FAE edited by Adele Wearing, published by Fox Spirit Books ELECTRIC VELOCIPEDE #27 edited by John Klima GEEK LOVE edited by Shanna Germaine & Janine Ashbless ARCANE VOLUME II edited by Nathan Shumate, published by Cold Fusion Media FIRE edited by Anne C. Perry & Jared Shurin
TALES TO TERRIFY VOLUME 1 edited by Tony C. Smith, Lawrence Santoro and ME!
Originally this campaign was meant to go on IndieGoGo, so the perks used to be more set in stone, but I’m more than happy to give out awards to amounts that vary within the price ranges below!
$5 – thank you email and a thank you on a social media platform
$15 – thank you email with a digital copy of FIRE
$25 – thank you email with a digital copy of FIRE, ARCANE VOLUME II
$40 – thank you email with a digital copy of FIRE, ARCANE VOLUME II, ELECTRIC VELOCIPEDE #27
$55 – thank you email with a digital copy of FIRE, ARCANE VOLUME II, ELECTRIC VELOCIPEDE #27, GEEK LOVE
$70 – thank you email with a digital copy of FIRE, ARCANE VOLUME II, ELECTRIC VELOCIPEDE #27, GEEK LOVE, TALES TO TERRIFY VOLUME 1
$130 – thank you email with a digital copy of FIRE, ARCANE VOLUME II, ELECTRIC VELOCIPEDE #27, GEEK LOVE, TALES TO TERRIFY VOLUME 1, TALES OF THE FOX & FAE, I also offer 3000 words of any commercial writing you need after September until the end of the year (5 of these – limited)
$200 – thank you email with a digital copy of FIRE, ARCANE VOLUME II, ELECTRIC VELOCIPEDE #27, GEEK LOVE, TALES TO TERRIFY VOLUME 1, TALES OF THE FOX & FAE, I also offer 3000 words of any commercial writing you need in the period of May 1st – June 10th. (5 of these – limited)
How Else You Can Help:
If you can’t make a donation, you can help spread the word! Share the campaign on Facebook, Twitter, Email, G+
Talk about the campaign and create some buzz IF YOU’VE REACHED THE END, I THANK YOU!! BELOW YOU CAN FIND THE PAYPAL BUTTON!
I seldom have the habit of writing updates because frankly nothing all that interesting happens to warrant a full-blown post, but last week has been incredibly generous with good news. The occasion begs for a short post and as swamped with work as I am, I need something short and sweet, rather than lengthy. I mean it took me a week on write my post on a writer’s age. One week!
Anyway, in the span of seven days, March 8th and March 15th, the following happened:
- I got accepted into Clarion, but you already know that. That piece of news deserved its own announcement and how many more Clarion posts there will be… You have no idea.
- Maxim Jukabowski has approach me to reprint my erotica story “Pages & Play Things” in his MAMMOTH BOOK OF NEW EROTICA 13, which makes this my first Best Of sale and the first time I’m actually selling a reprint. I can be nothing but thrilled. This story is one of those works that I just experimented and went completely crazy for and the story has been doing well, since it first got into Geek Love.
- I won a review contest with a translation in Bulgarian of my Pornokitsch review for Kaaron Warren’s “Dead Sea Fruit”. The contest did not only got me a runner-up position, but a small monetary reward – not bad.
- I have a new sudden client, which I didn’t expect. Given some very turbulent events in my offline life, I thought the job I did for the company was not up to my own personal standards, but somehow I have impressed the hell out of the owner and now I’m in charge of the entire content.
I’m still in deadline hell, which I predict will end around March 20th, but then I’ve to run a ton of errands and plan a trip for my one week stay at the capitol. Madness I tell you. Madness!
Writers are notorious for giving advice on writing. Doesn’t take long on the Internet to find a million or so articles on how write better, faster and stronger prose. Because it’s inescapable, writers often are assaulted by opinions and ironclad rules on writing, which often contradict each other. In the end, you’re a bit confused and have no idea who to listen.
What I’ve learned about the craft (writing is magic!) is that writing is one personal experience and no two writers are the same. Unless they’re clones. In which case I demand access to their cloning facility.
This is why I’ve taken to the streets to talk to writers about advice. What worked and what did not and why. The idea is not so much about to hash out new writing advice, but to foster more of a dialogue about a writer’s relationship with advice. This week I’m interrogating Jaym Gates!
Which is the one piece of go-to, often-repeated writing advice that turned out to hinder your writing? And can you share an example of how/why it didn’t work in a particular project.
Write every day. Seriously, that just doesn’t work for me. If I try to make myself write every day, I feel guilty when I don’t, and then that just turns into a spiral. Some projects, I can’t stop writing, and want to work on them every day. Usually, though, I’m better off binge-writing about once a week, and doing other things the rest of the time.
What is the one thing you wish someone had told you about writing, which you had to learn the hard way on your own? Again a personal experience would be nice.
Some projects rely on the writer being a certain age or mindset before they really become viable. There’s a project I’ve been poking at for years, a sprawling, vibrant epic fantasy, but every time I start working on it, I realize that I don’t know enough yet. I don’t have the experience necessary to make it what I want.
So while you hear ‘don’t be afraid to challenge yourself’ ‘just finish the story’, etc, sometimes there are projects that need to sit and mature for a while. That’s not a weakness, it’s a judgement call that will save the writer a lot of pain and frustration.
Writing advice aside, what are you currently writing/about to publish/promoting?
I’m in the process of rewriting a weird fantasy novel for online serialization. I’m also getting a military science fiction anthology, War Stories, ready to go to the printers. And, of course, working on convention season for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.
Jaym Gates is a writer, publicist to the SFF stars and current reigning queen of Kickster. Her clients and projects include Raw Dog Screaming Press; the Nebula Awards; Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America; Jeff VanderMeer; Crossed Genres Magazine; JoSelle Vanderhooft; the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and many more. Magazines, books, anthologies, presses, conventions, awards and organizations, all sorts of things.
This is what I’ve been sitting on this for a week now and the news have been killing me. I got word that I should keep quiet at least until Wednesday, but I wanted to be on the safe side and say something a bit after Wednesday.
If you read my guest post on Booklife Now [The Road to Clarion], you know it took me a lot of effort to apply. I just thought it was too big for me to have a realistic chance to make it in. I had to read and re-read the email I received time and time again to understand that Clarion is happening for me. I’m extremely happy.
Let me stress this some more for you.
I… AM… EXTREMELY… HAPPY…!
Imagine I’m shouting this. For one, this acceptance gave me a boost in confidence that I’m at a certain level in my writing that shows a certain potential (the rejections I keep receiving are messing with my head, I have to admit). And since I live with the constant fear that I’m more or less a phony cause I’m not a native speaker (if anyone knows a cure for this, please tell me) and this acceptance is much need for me to confront myself and my own bullshit.
However, the most fortunate aspect is that I’m a freelance writer and taking six weeks off to go on an adventure like this is possible. If I were stuck on a desk job in Bulgaria, I’d have no way of going, because six weeks are an incredible period of time and honestly, I don’t think most Bulgarian business owners care all that much about their employees’ dreams.
NOW, the only thing in the way is the funding. This is where things get really tricky, because even if I work, given the conversion rates and how new as a freelancer I am, raising the money needed to travel there and cover the fees is impossible for me. Plus, there is no grants system in Bulgaria for artists. I’m still waiting on information from Clarion to learn whether I’m eligible for scholarships and once I know the numbers, I’ll start an IndieGoGo campaign.
So at the moment, I’m halfway to Clarion. But it’s so awesome, I can’t help but smile every day since I saw my acceptance email.
This post may come off as ageist. I’m well aware of my bias on this, but to a point I think it’s still grounded in some kind of logic. Bear with me as I announce this:
Writing is for the old.
I don’t know how I came to this conclusion, but it’s been with me since early childhood. Age is a sensitive topic even among my peers, so I’ve perhaps signed my death warrant discussing this here. But doesn’t storytelling often get marketed with wrinkles, sweet disposition and the wisdom of having lived long? Maybe storytellers and writers don’t necessarily mean the exact same thing, but aren’t writers just storytellers with access to a keyboard?
John Hurt in his role as the storyteller in the… uh, “The Story Teller” first introduced me to the stereotype. Then I’d study about Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas and Vladimir Nabokov, all shown as elderly gentlemen with impressive beards (Nabokov didn’t have one, but you get the point) and faces marked by their years.
Condensing wisdom, orchestrating calamities, terraforming the imagination – all feats I have since associated with wizened men who needed canes and women whose hair had opted long ago for marble white as their primary color. Continue reading
Pose: The Surprise Reader does not pertain to a standardized body position during the act of reading itself. Instead, it denotes the unusual location within which a Book Keeper has been discovered to enjoy a book. These locations are often considered to be ill-equipped to serve as reading spaces – coat racks, kitchens, basements and filing cabinets among many others. Even though the Surprise Reader relies on the element of discovery by someone else, most Book Keepers have been observed to read sitting when pulling a Surprise Reader.
Purpose: Originally, the Surprise Reader served no greater purpose by design. However, the pose has evolved to label a certain behavior – eavesdropping. Book Keepers understood how to utilize the eccentric reading behavior as a tool of espionage. By blending with surroundings and maintaining a low profile by pretending to read, Book Keepers can become the perfect spies – silent and easily ignored.
With the conclusion of modern colonization of the Infinite Shelves, the Surprise Reader has suffered criticism. It is therefore a frowned-upon activity and a show of bad manner.
Point of origin: Although popular in Book Keeper slang, the Surprise Reader remains mostly an unofficial pose. It is not taught as it remains inconsistent and serves no functional purpose. The Surprise Reader has existed since an early age within Book Keepers’ communities, when the first Book Keepers experienced the overpowering urge to read the more mystical books in the Infinite Shelves. It wasn’t until the Third Wave that the Surprise Reader received a name, which has since then been used in several expressions.
1) “to be a Surprise Reader” – to be prone to snooping, spying and gossiping
2) “to pull a Surprise Reader on someone” – to startle by appearing in unexpected places
3) “to be the Surprise Reader in someone’s closet” – to be an unwanted, annoying or just plain creepy.
Pose in action: