On Sunday the 2011 class of Clarion West will begin their 6 week stint at the writing workshop for science fiction, fantasy and horror writers. Sunday is also the start of Clarion West’s Write-a-thon, an annual fundraising event that parallels the workshop. For 6 weeks the students of CW will write and write and write so they can learn and learn and learn more about the craft. For 6 weeks, the write-a-thon participants will write and write and write to earn money for the workshop and its students.
So, how does this all work? Why should it matter to you? Didn’t I mention something about famous people? Yes. All will be revealed if you read on to learn more about the Write-a-thon.
The write-a-thon is like a marathon except no one is being asked to run. You write, instead. Like a marathon, participants ask for sponsors, but instead of saying “Pledge X amount of money per mile I run” they say “Pledge X amount of money for every week I meet my goals.” Each writer sets a weekly goal. Some are very ambitious — 1 story/week, 1 chapter/week, 7,000 words/week — and some are tiny — 500 words/week, 1 novella in 6 weeks, 100 words/ day. The purpose here is twofold: 1 – to get writers writing. 2 – to raise money for the workshop.
For those who don’t know, Clarion West is a 6 week intensive workshop wherein 18 or so students go to Seattle for 6 weeks to learn about writing genre fiction from 6 instructors of awesomeness and some guest lecturers. You can click here to learn more. The reason writers raise money for Clarion West is that it’s a non-profit organization. The tuition students pay doesn’t cover all operating expenses, which includes paying the instructors and making sure students have decent housing. Plus, the workshop offers some financial aid to students who need it.
The list of graduates of Clarion West and Clarion-style workshops speaks to how important it has been to those who love reading genre fiction: Octavia Butler, Benjamin Rosenbaum, Nisi Shawl, Cory Doctorow, Ted Chiang, Nalo Hopkinson, Rachel Swirsky, Kelly Link, and many, many more. Clarion West isn’t for every writer, but for those who decide to go, it can be life-changing. If you want more amazing genre fiction, and if you want more diverse voices in genre fiction, please consider sponsoring someone in the write-a-thon.
First thing to do is to pick a writer to sponsor. There’s a handy list here on Clarion West’s website. Each writer’s page shows their goals, tells you a bit about their writing, and may even contain enticements to sponsor, such as free books or being tuckerized in a piece of fiction.
I’ll be just a tiny bit selfish here and mention that I am participating this year and if you visit my website and sign up to sponsor me there you can have a partial say in what kind of stories I write for the event. Details on that here.
No matter who you sponsor, everyone will be very grateful for your contribution. And even if you can only afford to pledge a small amount of money ($5/week or only $15 total), that is entirely fine.
Right! So, if you take a look at the participating writers, you will notice many fancy names on the list. Nancy Kress, N.K. Jemisin, Andrea Hairston, Barry Deutsch, Eileen Gunn, Kelley Eskridge, M.K. Hobson, Nisi Shawl, Rachel Swirsky, and Vonda N. McIntyre to name a few. If you sponsor them, Clarion West will share the names of those who do not wish to remain anonymous with the sponsored writer if they request it. You might get a personal Thank You in email. They will certainly think of you as a wonderful person for sponsoring them. I’m just sayin’.
Clarion West is a worthy organization, the Write-a-thon is a fun fundraiser, and I hope you’ll consider sponsoring a writer (like me).
K. Tempest Bradford is a fiction writer, essayist, technology journalist, and angry black person. However, she’s not angry at you.