As the Clarion Writers’ Workshop barrels full speed into Week Three, I’m reminded of my own third week at Clarion, and I look at this class with envy and amazement. Here’s the envy part: They’re in San Diego, whereas I spent all six weeks in East Lansing, MI. The summer heat and humidity of my Week 3 was punctuated by mosquito swarms, and our sanity depended on water gun fights. At that point, I wasn’t yet too physically exhausted to run around or too sleep deprived to fall asleep at my computer, both of which came later.
As for the amazement part: It’s remarkable how much beginning writers can learn in such a short period of time simply through lectures, writing exercises, critiquing others, having their own work critiqued by super smart people, and venturing beyond their writerly comfort zone. The other amazing thing is that a goodly number of the lessons learned in Week Three (and the other weeks, too) are time released. I never did figure out how great writing instructors do that, but they all seem to work that bit of magic. In other words, by Week Three, the Clarionites have learned more than they might suppose.
During my own third week, I wrote the initial draft of the first story that I ever sold. I’m wishing this year’s class great success with this week’s efforts.