I’ve only mentioned it here in passing, but I’m seriously planning to get to a six-week genre writing workshop for the summer of 2011. I’ve researched three of them: Clarion, Clarion West, and Odyssey, and I’ve gotten approval to take some unpaid sabbatical time in addition to my paid vacation if I’m accepted to one of them.
That’s getting to be the crucial point. The window for applications to Clarion opened on December 1st, just as I was recovering from Nanowrimo and getting myself back onto Eastern Standard Time. Deadline for applications to Clarion and Clarion West are both on March 1st, 2011
However, what I’m confident in submitting for my portfolio is starting to become a little clearer.
For a while, I guess I was confused by the different requirements for portfolios to all 3 workshops. But taking a good hard look at them, some of the complications prove to be meaningless for me:
Clarion wants 2 different short stories, between 2500-6000 words each.
Clarion West doesn’t mention word counts at all, but wants from 20-30 pages of work sample in manuscript format, which looks like it would be around 4500-6800 words.
Odyssey wants a sample of no more than 4000 words. Clarion West and Odyssey both suggest that a complete story would be good if possible, but don’t insist on it.
And in reviewing my available stories, I sidelined three of them pretty quickly. “The artifact” is still very rough, which is understandable considering that I conceived it and wrote it in five days in an unfamiliar city. Which is what I’ll have to be doing over and over again for these workshops, apparently, but I don’t necessarily need to pick a story for my portfolio on that basis.
“Wolves of Wyoming” and “The case of the Wizard’s vice” are in better shape, but I’m not that confident about either of them considering that they’d have a strike anywhere I’d be submitting them. They’re fantasy, and though Clarion and Clarion West don’t rule out including other fiction genres in the portfolio, (Clarion West even makes a point of saying that in their FAQ,) they ARE specifically Science Fiction workshops. And both stories are around 5,000 words, so I’d need to trim them down for Odyssey.
That leaves me with ‘Harry and Mars’, ‘The Landing’, and ‘Exploration and Evaluation.’ I do like ‘Harry’, though it got a somewhat mixed response at Hamilton Writers last night… it’s short enough that I can expand the characterization somewhat (which it badly needs,) and still fit the Odyssey word count. The new draft of ‘The Landing’ was received very well by Hamilton Writers when I brought it back to them in September, and it should fit in the middle of the page count guidelines for Clarion West. Once I’m comfortable with them, I can submit them both for Clarion. ‘Exploration and Evaluation’ is less strong overall, but can stand as an alternate just in case I see some flaw in one of the other stories that I can’t fix at the last moment.
One thing that I’m considering trying with ‘Harry and Mars’ would be a significant change that might make the word count explode, but I think that it’s still worth a try. As written, the first draft concerns a suicide on the first successful mission to Mars, and that was probably part of the original idea that I had when I started writing it back in September.
Somebody at the meeting mentioned “One problem I have is that it’s not that sudden, when you decide that you’re going to kill yourself,” and it sounded like he knew at least a little of what he was talking about. That got me to thinking, what if the first suicide attempt wasn’t successful, if they get to Harry in time to save her life – then what? Can they really keep one member of a five-person crew on suicide watch? With that change, I was also considering changing my POV from Harry herself to Charlie, the engineer, who could be the one who saves her.
Okay, I think that that’s enough blog rambling for tonight. Wish me luck with all my portfolio stuff, everybody!
UPDATE: I’d also like to announce to anybody who cares, that I expect this blog will remain proudly snow-free for the holiday season. The Weather Network is telling me that I’ll be getting enough of the stuff outside over the next few weeks, so I don’t intend to let snow into my cyber-world!