This is both sad and alarming.

It is no exaggeration to say that Clarion South turns people from wannabes into writers. I, and dozens more from the four Clarion South workshops that have run to date, have been the beneficiaries of an astoundingly successful — and yes, life-changing — magic formula for making people the most fabulous writers they can be.

Today, however, the Clarion South team (and they are heroes, one and all) has announced that Clarion South is on hold indefinitely, as they have run out of options for a workshop venue cheap enough that most writers have at least a chance of affording it. The cheapest option, they posted on their site, would still require a doubling of the tuition fee.

Yes, it is possible to be a good writer without going to a Clarion. But being a Clarionite is something special. First, it fast-tracks you through what would probably be the equivalent of a good undergraduate creative-writing degree, or even master's-level.

Second, it gives you an undeniably intense experience of what it is to be a writer, all day, every day, with every moment consumed by writing, talking about writing, critiquing others' writing, learning how to market your writing, writing, writing, writing. By the end of that, you know whether you can hack the writing life (and whether you should).

Third, it puts you in touch with some of the giants in the field. There's no guarantee they'll read your story, gasp, and phone their own agent right away about you. But it could happen. And even if it doesn't, they're the sages at whose feet we all sit, and they got to be sages by being both really really good at what they do and really really generous with their time and skill.

And finally, it gives you sixteen people who are in your life forever. More than friends. People you can lean on like a wall. People who will find you when you are wandering in the Great Writing Desert and share their water with you. Maybe even their chocolate. We writers like to tell ourselves and our non-writing friends that we are solitary people, and maybe we are. But there are moments in the lives of even the most solitary people when being alone is just wrong. And the Clarionite always has buddies who understand.

I have no answers for the heroes who run Clarion South. I don't have much money. I don't know Brisbane and can't suggest venues. I have no gift for wheedling generous sponsorships and grants out of corporations and foundations. Maybe if I, and others, tell people how important Clarion South is — and that it's the only workshop of its kind in the entire southern hemisphere — the word will spread and a solution will emerge.


At 9:06 PM, Blogger Yowie9644 said...

They'll have to move into the cyberspace world, where folks communicate via VOIP and webcam. Its really the only way to run a low-cost course.

At 9:16 PM, Blogger Laura E. Goodin said...

That's an interesting thought, Yowie, but it would make me sad if it came to that. There really is something amazing about everyone being together on their own planet for the six weeks.

At 9:01 AM, Blogger Houston Dunleavy said...

Have they thought about taking it out of Brisbane and into the bush where some income is needed and you could really be on your own planet?

A pub in a town miles from anywhere in central Qld????

Lower costs and isolation. Win, win I reckon

Just a thought....

At 11:07 PM, Blogger Flinthart said...


Tell 'em to try Tassie. There's bound to be somewhere down here...

At 10:05 PM, Blogger Houston Dunleavy said...

Dirk has a point. Tassie would be a fine choice. There's a lot of places that would be ideal in and around Hobart - especially around.


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