Just a quick note about Never After, a fairy-tale anthology coming out in November. Laurell K. Hamilton is in it with a brand new story, along with myself, Sharon Shinn, and Yasmine Galenorn. My contribution is called The Tangleroot Palace, about a princess who escapes betrothal to a warlord by entering a magic forest and battling an evil queen.
John Joseph Adams has posted a comprehensive list of workshops aimed specifically at writers of science fiction and fantasy. Before attending Clarion, I would have said to avoid these things like the plague—actually, for a lot of people I would say they’re a bad idea—but I had an excellent experience and learned a lot.
But here’s the requisite warning: You must have a thick skin. You must be capable of giving honest critiques—honest and compassionate. You must play well with others. Writing is very personal—very—and it’s easy to get so wrapped up in your literary darling that you forget these things in the heat of the moment. And the critique circle does get hot, let me tell you.
Also (and how do I put this delicately) you need to be very, very, sure of yourself. Not cocky. Not an asshole. You’re there to learn, so be humble about it. Appreciate the opportunity and run with it. But, on the other hand, if you don’t know who you are, if you haven’t got a strong sense of yourself—then being told that your writing is crap (by anyone, not just at Clarion, but in your English class, from a friend or family member) can be devastating. It can set you back, if you’re not careful. The same is true for well-meaning advice that might work for others, but not be right for you—or anyone, for that matter. This is why I hate most of the writing panels at conventions, especially the ones that tell you what trends to follow. Don’t get me started. I can rant all day about that topic.
In the case of the Clarion workshop, though, the teachers are almost always wonderful—heck, this year they’ve got Holly Black, Robert Crais (I love his Elvis Cole novels), Larissa Lai, Elizabeth Hand, Paul Park, and Kim Stanley Robinson. That is a line-up, people. And you’ve still got a couple days to apply—if you can spare six weeks of your life to devote to nothing more than writing.