Stefen's Takeaways

There’s a lot I could say about my six weeks spent at the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop.

I could use the phrases “life-changing” and “career-affirming,” and “anxiety-inducing,” but none of that would really get to the essence of what those six weeks actually meant to me. So, I’ll stick to two major takeaways that seem relevant right now.  The first: books matter.

 

TypewriterPeople are out there writing some amazing things.

Wonderous, intangible, miraculous things, dark, horrifying, jaw-dropping things, things that question and poke and meddle, things that challenge every manner of status quo. And they’re doing this at what is possibly the most difficult time EVER to write creatively! A time when every moment of your day is suffused with cranial clutter, the dead-space of targeted ads and infinite online content. There’s a brick in your pocket that weighs down your brain, there’s a thousand thousand worries in the way of productive expression and communication. But there’s still some people out there who sit down regardless and ply their trade of crafting worlds, in order for us to imagine difference.

I mean, that’s the whole point, really, of Fiction in general, and Speculative Fiction especially: the ability to imagine difference. Scientific difference, social difference, political difference, all of the above, and more. It’s what keeps the lights on, soul-wise and otherwise. 

Books are empathy machines. We are lucky to have them. (I've included a few of my recent favorites at the end of the article)

 

TypewriterThe second takeaway: 

If you wish to do anything well, find yourself a community.

It is so easy these days to fall into the trap of solitary pursuit, especially with creative endeavors. This is fine and good to a certain extent, some people (me) can get by in such conditions, but one of the most revelatory and vitalizing aspects of Clarion was being around other people who were passionate about the same things I was.

It turns out that when those around you are doing awesome things, you can do awesome things too! Weird, I know, but it's true. 

 

A couple of sidenotes:

  • Southern California is a paradise and shouldn’t actually exist. Six weeks straight of mid-70s, blue sky, and an absolutely relentless gentle sea breeze. I’ve never missed thunderstorms more.
  • The flora is gorgeous but don’t touch the pointy bits.
  • If you find yourself in San Diego, definitely check out Mysterious Galaxy Books. Super rad place.

 

Here’s a list of books I’m jazzed about:

In the Dust of This Planet (Horror of Philosophy #1) By Eugene Thacker Cover Image
$19.95
ISBN: 9781846946769
Availability: Ships Today - Not Currently In-Store
Published: Zero Books - August 16th, 2011

The Devil and the Dark Water By Stuart Turton Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781728234298
Availability: Ships Today - Not Currently In-Store
Published: Sourcebooks Landmark - July 6th, 2021

Blood and Guts in High School By Kathy Acker, Chris Kraus (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Kathy Acker, Chris Kraus (Introduction by)
$16.00
ISBN: 9780802127624
Availability: Ships Today - Not Currently In-Store
Published: Grove Press - November 21st, 2017

No Gods, No Monsters (Convergence Saga #1) By Cadwell Turnbull Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9798200834419
Availability: Ships Today - Not Currently In-Store
Published: Blackstone Publishing - September 6th, 2022

Boys, Beasts & Men By Sam J. Miller, Amal El-Mohtar (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Sam J. Miller, Amal El-Mohtar (Introduction by)
$17.95
ISBN: 9781616963729
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tachyon Publications - June 14th, 2022

Blindsight (Firefall #1) By Peter Watts Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781250237484
Availability: Ships Today - Not Currently In-Store
Published: Tor Books - April 21st, 2020

The Employees: A workplace novel of the 22nd century By Olga Ravn, Martin Aitken (Translated by) Cover Image
By Olga Ravn, Martin Aitken (Translated by)
$19.95
ISBN: 9780811231350
Availability: Ships Today - Not Currently In-Store
Published: New Directions - February 1st, 2022

Luckenbooth By Jenni Fagan Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781643138879
Availability: Ships Today - Not Currently In-Store
Published: Pegasus Books - January 4th, 2022

These Prisoning Hills By Christopher Rowe Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9781250804488
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tordotcom - May 31st, 2022

Afterparties: Stories By Anthony Veasna So Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780063049895
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco - June 7th, 2022

And This Is How to Stay Alive By Shingai Kagunda Cover Image
$12.99
ISBN: 9781952086335
Availability: Ships Today - Not Currently In-Store
Published: Neon Hemlock Press - October 26th, 2021

Meander, Spiral, Explode: Design and Pattern in Narrative By Jane Alison Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781948226134
Availability: Ships Today - Not Currently In-Store
Published: Catapult - April 2nd, 2019

What I Didn't See and Other Stories By Karen Joy Fowler Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781931520485
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Small Beer Press - April 23rd, 2013

Air: Or, Have Not Have By Geoff Ryman Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9780312261214
Availability: Ships Today - Not Currently In-Store
Published: St. Martin's Griffin - October 1st, 2004