Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tis the season

It's that time of year again, when I gaze with longing at the websites for various genre-writing workshops and wish I could go.

There's Clarion, Clarion West and Odyssey. All are six weeks long, which means they are designed for people without children or whose children are grown. Aside from the unaffordable tuition rate (at least, unaffordable for someone who's paying rent on one house and mortgage on another that has been on the market for three years), I can't imagine turning my husband into a single parent for the majority of summer break. If you're applying to attend one of these workshops, good luck! For me, they're not feasible.

Then there's Orson Scott Card's bootcamp. This workshop is feasible for me, but not this year. It's six days long and is generally in a different city every year. Last year, one of the two sessions was in Utah, which is within driving distance of Denver. I had hoped this year's also would be there. It's in Greenboro, N.C., which is almost next door to my previous residence (the one that won't sell). From Denver, it requires an airplane ride that I can't afford. Also, it happens to fall during the one week all summer in which I have made a commitment to be elsewhere.

So this summer, I will content myself with reading blog and message-board posts from those who are in attendance and will keep my fingers crossed for next year.

8 comments:

Nisi said...

Jennifer, sorry to see you consider Clarion West unfeasible. Plenty of people with small children have attended, and even taught: Ben Rosenbaum, Sheree R. Thomas, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, and Nnedi Okorafor, to name a few.

As for the cost, well, Clarion West's is lower than Clarion Diego's by about $1800, and besides, there are scholarships. Lots of them.

You seem to have decided you *want* to go. The thing to think about next is the instructors. Who are your ideal teachers? Once they come around on some workshop's roster, that's your time, and that's your place. That's when you figure out how.

Jennifer Campbell-Hicks said...

Hi, Nisi. Thank you for the comment. It sounds like you have attended one of these workshops or at least are a lot more familiar with them than I am.

For some writers, it's an acceptable trade-off to lose six weeks with their family for the opportunity to attend, say, Clarion. That's fantastic for them. But it's not me. Clarion is one of those things I wish I had been aware of before I started a family, when I was free to take off for weeks at a time because there was no one else depending on me.

OTOH, I do want to go to one of these workshops. There's only so much I can learn from books on writing and from feedback from other writers who are at the same level of experience as I am.

Benjamin Rosenbaum said...

My wife and daughter Aviva -- Aviva was seven months at the time -- attended the middle two and a half weeks of Clarion West 2001, meaning that I was only apart from them for a little less than two weeks at a stretch. The kindly CW folks gave us a spare room for free for them to live in, and Aviva had seventeen instant uncles and aunts who passed her from hand to hand and cuddled her after harsh critiques; she was in heaven. And she was a boon to the workshop.

Obviously this required extreme flexibility on the part of both my wife, and both my wife's and my employers! I wouldn't recommend it for everyone. It was finanically challenging and chaotic. But I'm very glad I did it.

Benjamin Rosenbaum said...

Um, I mean, in case that wasn't clear, _I_ was attending, Esther and Aviva were hanging out seeing the sights in Seattle and visiting friends when I was in class! :-)

Jennifer Campbell-Hicks said...

Benjamin, thank you for sharing your experience. I didn't know it was even an option to attend part of a workshop like Clarion West, and not the whole thing. (And I'm going to go fan girl for a moment and say I very much like your story "The House Beyond Your Sky.")

Benjamin Rosenbaum said...

Thank you for the kind words about HBYS! What did you like about it?

Sorry for the unclarity -- I did attend the whole workshop, all six weeks. But I didn't want to be away from my baby daughter for six weeks. My wife didn't want to hang around at the workshop the whole six weeks with the baby, but she was willing to come for a few weeks. I decided I could handle couple of two-week separations from the baby. So my wife and daughter came and lived in the dorm (they gave us an extra room for free, sweethearts that they are) for the second and third and part of the fourth week of Clarion West 2001.

cheers

Ben

Jennifer Campbell-Hicks said...

Few openings have ever tugged at my heart strings more than the one in HBYS: a little girl in danger, clinging to her teddy bear. And in a wonderful ending, the brave girl becomes the keeper of the keys. I also like how much of the description is framed as "think of it as ..." -- as if our human minds can't comprehend what it really is and so we're being handed an approximation.

I misunderstood your comments on CW. I see now in rereading them than you said your wife and daughter attended for 2 1/2 weeks, not you. I'm sometimes amazed at the gap between what one person writes and another person reads.

Anyway, thank you for stopping by my blog.

Benjamin Rosenbaum said...

Thank *you*!