Eight years ago around this time of year I attended the Clarion West writer’s workshop in Seattle. Seventeen of us all shared the same ambition to become science fiction writers, but so far I’ve failed to succeed. A few of my classmates haven’t. We were told only a handful of us would get ahead with our dreams, and it would take years, and it would not always be as planned. And that’s come true.
Strangely enough, my Clarion West 2002 group had three guys who were 50 that year, seeking new ambitions for the second half of their lives. Most of the class were in their twenties, with a couple in their thirties. At 50, I decided to do something new with my life by going back and pursuing one of my teen ambitions, to write science fiction. In the eight years since I’ve written damn little fiction, but I’ve written a lot about science fiction on this blog and at Classics of Science Fiction.
Dario Ciriello has taken a different tack and started Panverse Publishing, and editing anthologies of original stories, with an emphasis on the novella. With two titles in print and another due in September, Dario has hit the ground running with a promising new career as an editor. The books have been getting good reviews and they have stunning covers.
You can get Panverse One and Eight Against Reality now at Amazon, or order direct from the Panverse site. Panverse One is even available as a Kindle book. Panverse Two will come out in September. If you are a patron of writers and small presses, you can get copies of the books and make donations at Wonder. Story. They’re Back! where Dario talks in a short film about his small press and publishing new writers.
The other Clarion West student that was 50 like me back in 2002 is Doug Sharp. Doug has spent years living out in the wilderness finishing up his wild science fiction novel and is now looking for an agent. The epic adventure turned out so long after many revisions that it will be two novels, Channel Zilch and Hel’s Bet! Doug’s blog Walden 3.0 is fascinating account of a modern Thoreau living in a cabin in the Minnesota woods with his dogs while writing science fiction. Doug takes beautiful photos of the wilderness and wildlife and should write a book his real life, something I envy.
I on the other hand, have written practically no fiction since 2002. I found a writing outlet with blogging and my website The Classics of Science Fiction. But the longing to write fiction never stops gnawing at me, and every summer around this time, I remember fondly my weeks at Clarion West and my ambition to write short stories and novels. Each year I reevaluate the question: Can an old dog learn new tricks.
I’ve taken off this week to work on a short story as a mental return to Clarion West. I agonize over my lack of discipline, but the reality of me not writing fiction is probably not about discipline but talent. Hard work and talent does pay off. T. L. Morganfield, one of my younger Clarion West classmates has had great success with publishing a string of short stories based on Aztec mythology. Recent publications include one in the July issue of Realms of Fantasy and another story in Dario’s anthology Eight Against Reality. What I admire about Traci is her constant work at achieving her goal. I wish I could be more like her.
Ysabeau S. Wilce, another younger Clarion West 2002 alum, won the 2008 Andre Norton Award for young adults, for her novel Flora’s Dare. I haven’t heard much about my other classmates except for notices about a story published here and there, and other kinds of artistic success. I especially wish the young classmates all the luck in the world. They have the time to make their dreams come true and I hope they succeed.
I hope by next summer when I think of my time at Clarion West that I will have finished the short story I’m working on now, and maybe a few more. I want to prove that an old dog can learn new tricks.
JWH – 7/6/10