Workshops (With Me In Them)

by wjw on January 22, 2012

If you’re beginning your writing career, or if you’d like to begin your writing career, there are any number of fine workshops that might help you on your way.

Only two of these, however, have me in them.  (And you want me in your workshop, you really do.)

One of these is Taos Toolbox, a workshop that I created.  This year I’ll be teaching with Nancy Kress (who is sublime) and special lecturer Daniel Abraham (whose sublimity may be open to question, but who is really, really smart).  The workshop will run for two weeks, June 10-23.  Short stories are welcome, but we also deal with novels.  We teach pacing and plotting, which most workshops won’t teach you (because they’re very hard to teach).

The other workshop is Clarion— or Clarion East, as it used to be called before it moved West to San Diego.  (I prefer to call it Clarion Classic.)  Clarion runs for six weeks, June 23-August 4, and the instructors will be the extremely formidable team of Jeffrey Ford, Marjorie Liu, Ted Chiang, Holly Black, Cassandra Clare, and my ownself.  (I’ll be teaching the fourth week.)

Clarion is a short story workshop, and it has an extremely good track record for turning out professional SF and fantasy writers.

Both workshops are still welcoming new applications.  For Clarion, you want to get in your application by the deadline of March 1.  For Toolbox, you should do yourself the favor of applying before February 1, because that’s when the price goes up.

So here’s a little compare-and-contrast on the two:

Length of Workshop:

Clarion: Six Weeks.

Toolbox: Two Weeks.


Clarion: Six Awesome Instructors

Toolbox: One Awesome Instructor, One Sublime Instructor, and One Really, Really Smart Guy.


Clarion: Students share college apartments at UCSD.  Each has a single room and shares bathroom and kitchen with two other students.  Laundry facilities available.  Recreation facilities and pools available at extra charge.

Toolbox: Students share suites at the Snow Bear Inn in Taos Ski Valley.  Each student will have a private room and bath, and share a kitchen with one other student.  Private rooms available at extra cost.  Laundry facilities available.  Hot tub available.  Warning: at 10,000 feet.  There are bears.


Clarion: three meals per day at college dining facilities.  Restaurants and coffee shops within easy walking distance.

Toolbox: nine catered hot dinners, plenty of food available for students to make their own breakfasts, lunches, and snacks.  Usually a couple motor trips to local restaurants.  The lodge is a bit remote, but there are restaurants within walking distance.

Workshop Format

Clarion: Milford Workshop model of round-robin critique.  Instructors may add lectures, demonstrations, etc., depending on time and inclination.  Weekends free for writing or recreation.

Toolbox: Milford Workshop model of round-robin critique, plus two lectures or demonstrations per day.  Weekends free for writing or recreation.

Culture?  Recreation?

Clarion: dude, it’s San Diego.  Sea World, Zoo, waterfront, beaches, surfing, museums, theater, and San Diego Comicon!

Toolbox: dude, it’s Taos.  Galleries, communes, earthships, horseback riding, museums, mountain trails, hot springs, white-water rafting.


Clarion: Yes.

Toolbox: Maybe, but not large.

Academic Credit:

Clarion: generally yes.

Toolbox: you’ll have to arrange this with your university.


Clarion: no.

Toolbox: yes.


Clarion: no

Toolbox: yes

Summary: Who says you have to choose?  Apply to both.  If you’re accepted by one and not the other, your future is made for you.  If accepted by both, you’re in the enviable position of being able to choose for yourself.

But the sad fact is, you’ll regret it if you don’t apply.  Go for it!

Peter January 23, 2012 at 1:11 am

What! No Kraken rum allowed at Clarion? Heathens…

wjw January 23, 2012 at 4:48 am

Clarion’s on a college campus, unfortunately, so your choice of intoxicant has to be smuggled on board.

Rebecca January 24, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Envelope goes in the mail tomorrow. 🙂

wjw January 26, 2012 at 5:57 am

Good for you, Rebecca! I’ll look forward to reading it.

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