Have been a bit late in mentioning this, but Clarion is open for applications. If you want to spend an insane, ridiculously intense and wonderful, six weeks writing stories and learning how stories work in the company of a small band of wild and magnificent fellow writers... well, you should apply.
My six weeks at Clarion did three rather extraordinary things for me, and they are as follows:
1. Introduced me to a group of people who I love and adore, who have brains that understand the strange turns imagination takes when presented with a shiny tidbit, and who are absurdly talented, driven, intelligent, and kind.
2. Introduced me to the inner workings of story: the levers and pulleys, the shapes and shadows, the paint and clockwork and bones, that hold a story up and make it walk around of its own accord. Before Clarion, I never seriously considered how a story worked. At Clarion, I read lots of stories several times through, looking desperately for things to say in critique (I was quite terrified the first day of critique. What if my turn came around and I had nothing to say?). At first things were hazy. I knew something wasn't working for me, but I couldn't articulate why. But reading things carefully, and hearing what other people say, and having certain things pointed out for you by six brilliant teachers, makes everything much clearer.
3. Made me want to tell stories. This is huge for me. I always liked stories. I made them up when I was little, wrote a few every now and then when I had spare time or vacation, but that was it really. I'd have ideas sometimes and think, oh that would make a nice story, I wish someone would write it so I could read it. Clarion smacked me in the head and said, WAKE UP, this is something you want to do, something that makes you happier for doing it, something that is worth falling in love with.
Clarion West is also open for applications. You have until the 1st of March. This is a long time. I did my application in four days (including the stories), so if you start now, you'll be well on your way to one that is far more brilliant and polished than mine! Good luck.