<$BlogRSDURL$> Spontaneous Things: Karina Sumner-Smith's Blog
Saturday, July 05, 2003
A Letter to Save Clarion

My letter to the Provost and Dean of MSU might not be as neat and succinct as Phil's, and it might be a little too ramble-wordy for its own good, but it's still something:

Dear Dr. Lou Anna K. Simon and Dr. Wendy K. Wilkins,

It was with great distress that I heard news this past week that the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers' Workshop has lost its funding from Michigan State University, placing the future of the workshop in danger. I know that this is a tough time for many Universities, MSU included, due to serious budget cuts. Yet I believe that losing Clarion would be a terrible blow both to the University and the science fiction community as a whole.

I have grown up reading the works of Clarion instructors and alumni, works that challenged me, excited me, swept me away from my life in small-town Ontario to new worlds and futures full of possibility. And as I discovered that I too wanted to be a writer of science fiction and fantasy, I turned to the works of Clarion graduates and instructors such as Karen Joy Fowler, Kelly Link and James Patrick Kelly for inspiration and guidance.

When I learned that I had been accepted into the workshop, it was the fulfillment of a dream--and the awakening of a promise. For while not all successful SF writers attend Clarion, and not all Clarion graduates go on to careers writing in the genre, there is no other workshop in existence that can do for an aspiring author what Clarion does. Within those six weeks, a writer's work can totally change, blossoming into something fuller, richer and more vibrant with the guidance of his or her peers and instructors. For many, Clarion is also the first opportunity that these young or aspiring authors have to come together with others who share not only their love of the genre but also their commitment to writing and success. The connections made with both editors and professional writers can truly change the path of a writer's life and future career.

It has only been two years since I attended Clarion, and yet the change in my writing has been unbelievable. My time at the workshop gave me the knowledge, skill and confidence to write works that have achieved publication at a professional level, and win not one but two Asimov Awards. I doubt that any of this would have been possible, especially so quickly, without Clarion.

I find it hard to imagine what the workshop would be like were it not set at MSU. When I think of Clarion, I think of walking along the river towards the library to research a new story; of sitting on the balconies of Owen Hall in the evenings with my classmates, discussing writing and science fiction as we watched the fireflies out on the lawns; of lying beneath the trees in the Van Hoosen courtyard, reading stories for the next day's critique session.

What would Clarion be without the support of Michigan State University? Could it survive at all? I hope that we never have to find out. I ask you as a writer, as a student, as a Clarion graduate and a speculative fiction fan, please, reconsider your decision.

Sincerely yours,

Karina Sumner-Smith

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 3:50 PM


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