No-Go On Clarion This Year

March 14: Rejection from Clarion UCSD
March 20: Rejection from Clarion West

Oh well, there goes my first time applying. I’m glad I went to Writefest last week and found the community of writers I’d been looking for, otherwise I’d feel a lot more dejected and alone with this news. I won’t deny that I’m disappointed, because I felt like I put out my best work to date and opened up my heart onto the personal statements, which took a great deal of courage and effort, but it’ll be ok.

I’ve found that it’s actually very common for people to apply many times before getting in. Two or three times is the usual. I believe someone got in after SIX times? So I try to look at this as one step closer to acceptance. I’ve got 2 more free summers, so 2 more chances, and even if I have to call it quits after trying, Clarion is by no means the only way to be a great writer. There are plenty of people who go on to success and established a network without Clarion, MFAs, other workshops, etc. What matters is the words you’re writing and putting out, the kind of work you want to share, not necessarily your credentials.

Maybe this year isn’t my year. To be honest I’m kind of relieved I didn’t get in, otherwise I’d have to come up with all the money and quit my temporary job, which will really help me for medical school. So it looks my summer will be work and more writing. I’ll fire shots at Clarion for 2 more summers and see what happens.

Writefest 2017 and The Fellowship of the Pen (or Laptop, or Whatever You Write With)

Here it is: my attempt at articulating the tumult of emotions and thoughts following my first Writefest.

Where can I begin? How? Well, the whole weekend I was there, I just felt this overwhelming joy and peace, the same mix of feelings I get when I’m sitting in an empty cathedral appreciating its architecture and soaking in the sacred atmosphere (one of my favorite pastimes, I must admit). This time the sense of content and belonging came from being among other writers. Living in Houston, growing up, raised, and surrounded by Vietnamese Catholics, I never lacked in being part of the community on an ethnic and spiritual level. My parents saw to it that I got my fair share of cultural association events, Christian retreats, etc. But never before have I been part of a community on a creative level (well, since graduating from High School for Performing and Visual Arts, and I didn’t get into that school for writing, anyway). I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, recently making the transition to original fiction after flexing my creative muscles in fanfiction for a decade. This creative endeavor, while emotionally rewarding, felt quite lonely at times, and I longed for that satisfying feeling that I wasn’t alone.

I found that through Writefest.

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Short Story Rejections #18 and #19

Why the double whammy? I submitted to the POC Take Over Fantastic Stories of the Imagination issue. (The regular FSI put up its last hurrah and ceased publication a few weeks ago.) Guidelines permitted sending up to 2 stories. Neither of them got in, but Nisi Shawl left an encouraging note:

“Allison, unfortunately I’ve determined that neither of your stories quite fit our content needs for People of Color Take Over Fantastic Stories of the Imagination.  “Diver” in particular came very close.  But I was only able to pick four stories out of over a hundred submissions!  So I won’t be including your work in this publication, but I wish you every success with it, and I thank you for the opportunity to consider it.

Sincerely, Nisi Shawl, Editor

P.S.: Based on your submission, I have a strong feeling you are going to do well–if you aren’t doing well already!”

Welp, haven’t made a pro-sale yet, but if Nisi Shawl foresees good things for me, how can I give up? I’ll keep at it for sure.

Short Story Rejection #17

37-day higher-tier form rejection from Strange Horizons for “Phlegethon.” It got past first reader to reach the fiction editors/2nd round, and although they enjoyed reading it, ultimately they did not accept it for publication.

So that was the start of my 2017 Ash Wednesday, but oddly enough it didn’t bum me out. I take it as a simple “not right for us” remark. Nothing personal. I’m glad to get some closure, and a chance to resubmit.

Putting out the message in a bottle

Completed and sent out applications to Clarion UCSD and Viable Paradise! I ended up sending 2 sci-fi short stories for Clarion, because I had neither the time nor motivation to finish the fantasy WIP. Still, I’m proud of the work I sent, and felt they show my current writing ability and range of interests and styles. Because I’m a LGBTQIA woman POC applicant, I was eligible for the Clarion application fee waiver. I really appreciate how the SFF community tries to be supportive and inclusive.

I’m debating whether to apply for Odyssey or not, mostly because I currently do not have a story under their 4000 word limit and am not sure if I can come up with one.

Now, for the next month or so, I must busy myself with other things to avoid twiddling my thumbs over the wait.

Not quite going as planned

I’ve been held up by a lot of things, school and writer’s block being my chief reasons. Looks like I’m not going to get my stories done and submitted in time for Clarion UCSD’s fee discount, which ends on February 15. Oh well, it’s only a $15 increase from then till closing applications on March 1, so I’m going to take my time. I’ve learned the hard way from previous submissions to never be pressured by a deadline and rush a work into completion (or what I think is completion, when in fact it could do much better with patient, thoughtful revision).

Something I noticed

I’m starting to think that, without even opening the email, any response to a short story submission beginning with “Thank you for…” means a rejection. And any beginning with “Congratulations!” obviously means an acceptance. I’ve accumulated enough rejections (and will get many more down the line, no doubt) to be sure of this. -nods-

Although…a response I did get started out what I thought would be a rejection, but read further down to find out it’s an acceptance. It said “unfortunately we’re sorry that your piece has been…accepted!” I thought that was amusing and unusual. I had to double check to make sure it really was an acceptance.