There’s much more to come from our Clarion South bloggers. This week’s question was: How many short stories would you recommend being published prior to applying for Clarion? First part today, second part tomorrow.
Ben Julien: Actually, this is a question best answered by the individual. The more publications you have obviously the more practice behind you, and practice is the key. Publications are by no means a requirement in any case, just good writing.
I haven’t written short stories per se, at all – I do have three young adult novels under my belt though which for me roughly equates to three years of practice, and most of my remaining hair. My novels switch from one character to the next and are essentially interwoven short stories in any case.
My advice to any writer, myself included, is to write real characters. Not over-the-top heroes or evil masterminds, but real personalities pushed into strange circumstances. Characters we can all relate to. Throw in your own voice (whatever words come from you easily and naturally) and a desire to connect to the reader and to entertain, and I think you’ll find a readership anywhere.
Lee Battersby: It makes absolutely no difference. Clarion is about refining and sharpening the skills you already have, as well as providing you with the strategies and disciplines necessary to consider a career as a professional writer. Only two questions matter: Could I be better? and Will I benefit from this experience? Clarion South 2007 had one student with several novels under her belt and at least one who had never sold a story before, and I’d wager anything you like that they each drank the experience as dry as they possibly could. All that matters is that you want to work hard, improve your craft, and apply the lessons.
Jess Irwin: It’s not about the number of publications – we had people with several publications and people with none at all. You’re all equal in the crit room. The quality of the writing, and a desire and willingness to take it to the next level, is more important. Publications can be an indicator of good writing, though obviously some publications are more prestigious than others.
Angela Slatter: I have about 20 stories published so far, and about 10 reviews and a few articles. I don’t know if that’s ideal – it’s just what I have!
Steve Turner: I have not had one published – I was accepted on the strength of a plot synopsis and first chapter of my out-of-control epic fantasy novel, so please don’t let a lack of short story credibility dissuade any would-be Clarionites, just submit some damn good writing (keep in mind that the Clarion workshops are about short stories though, so don’t apply if you don’t like to write them). I have been experimenting with short stories for most of this year, combining both science fiction and fantasy in one, and one of my aims is to produce some of my best writing in short story format from my Clarion South experience.
Helen Venn: I think it’s more a question of having learned your craft to a reasonable level than having stories published.
Amanda le Bas De Plumetot: Crikey, I don’t know. I’ve never counted how many I’ve had published. Does it really matter? Maybe there are some in the group who haven’t been published at all, but have that edge that makes them worthwhile. Maybe they’ve got some real gold on their hard drives, but never had the confidence to submit them anywhere.
Filed under: Clarion South, on writing, Uncategorized | Tagged: Amanda le Bas De Plumetot, angela slatter, Ben Julien, Clarion South, Clarion South Writers Workshop, Helen Venn, Jess Irwin, Lee Battersby, Steve Turner |