Failure and Clarion

This year, I’ve decided to apply for Clarion West, and this week is the deadline for Clarion applications, so I’ve been spending my time revising stories, writing up a biographical piece, and filling out scholarship applications. I’m excited about applying, and I’m very happy with the story I’m submitting, but in the back of my head, I’m already bracing for the possibility of rejection.

So it was in this anxious frame of mind that I came across two articles on failure. The first article is by Wil Wheaton. The second article is by Phil Jourdan at

Both articles are worth a read. Wil describes a talk he had with John Scalzi about failures and failing to write. He talks about how important it is to write daily and about the experience of taking a failed piece of writing and turning it into something worth while. In the second article, Phil talks about how failure is in fact the norm when it comes to writing, and how improvement comes from learning from those failures instead of repeating them.

On the one hand, these are difficult things to read. And they might be a bit discouraging when putting together the application. I mean, I don’t expect to be admitted. I think the story I’m submitting is the best work I’ve done. It’s different and longer–an evolution. But I won’t know if it’s good enough for a couple of weeks. And I have to prepare myself for the possibility of rejection. Of course I hope it’s good enough. But it’s articles like this that help in that preparation.

But I’m not going to stare at my phone for those weeks. I’m going to keep writing, to keep working. To figure out where I can submit that story if Clarion doesn’t want me.

Rejection may be a failure. But it doesn’t have to be the end. Hopefully, it’ll be just a lesson. I’ll move on and move forward. After a stiff drink or two.

Of course, I do hope that instead I get to share some good news with you in a couple of weeks. If so, you’ll be among the first to know. Fingers crossed, contingency plans in my back pocket.

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