Clarion Write-a-thon Conclusion

Clarion Write-a-thon has drawn to a close.  Winner of the yet to be fully produced Cheshire Cat string art is: Adam Nobel.  Thank you, Adam.  And thank you to everyone else who donated.

Lessons learned:

  1. When you have writers block, write something.  Personal essay, porn, an angry rant that will never see the light of day.  Write.
  2. No one will donate to a cause you haven’t told them about.
  3. Telling people once isn’t enough.
  4. Telling people on one platform isn’t enough.
  5. Don’t live stream until you have cleared your desk.
  6. Teenage boys would rather do chores than be your lovely assistant.
  7. Finish your prize before the last day of the write-a-thon.
  8. Don’t let yourself off the hook on daily writing goals.
  9. Sometimes you have to let yourself off the hook.
  10. No one becomes a better writer alone.  We need feedback, mentors, readers, friends and family.

Thank you again to everyone who contributed to the Clarion Write-a-thon, even if you didn’t donate through my page.  You have helped continue to grow the SF&F writing community.  We had a painful reminder recently why new and diverse voices are important.  For SF&F to remain relivant we need a constant influx of new voices.

If you want to watch my clunky live stream, here it is, saved in amber: https://twitter.com/nylabright/status/1290348253570113539?s=20

If you still want to donate, you can’t win the prize but, let’s be honest, the real prize is great SF&F stories: https://clarionwriteathon.org/members/profile.php?writerid=761322

Clarion: Getting My Groove Back

This will be the second to last post about Clarion for the year.  Write-a-thon, the annual Clarion Workshop fundraiser, will be wrapping up on August 1st.  On Saturday, I will be drawing for who will win the Cheshire cat string art I made as a prize. Given the current economic environment, I did better this year raising money than I have in previous years.  I suspect it was my endless weekly posts and tweeting about Clarion instead of the offer of my Cheshire cat string art.

The real prize for doing the Clarion Write-a-thon was getting back into daily writing.

I was completely derailed by 2020.  Which is odd, as a family we haven’t suffered (yet) the hardships others have.  Since I’ve worked from home for the past 4 years, there should have been no change for me.

Should have.

"All work and no play" wirting from the movie the Shining.The change to my ability to write was abrupt.  The more news I listened to, the more my lizard-brain pumped out worry juice, and the more I tried to lock down every variable. Which would have been more manageable except my husband and son weren’t reading the news, worrying, or planning.  I couldn’t take my hands off the steering wheel to take care of myself.  It was exhausting sitting on a teenager, checking he wasn’t sneaking off to play games instead of doing school work.  For some reason, I couldn’t get it through my husband’s head that I wasn’t going to pop out to the store if he forgot to put something on the grocery list.  Reminding them to wash their hands became a full-time job in and of itself.

I was stopped cold trying to look for tigers in the grass. My husband, who was enjoying Scary looking tigerthe fruits of my mental labor, started writing more actively.  My son, spurred on by me, has been working on his Scouting merit badges.  Despite missing Scout Camp this year, he might end up ahead in total merit badge achievements.  Everyone was flourishing while I was drowning.

Earlier in the pandemic I figured out if I scheduled write-ins to help other friends who needed social time to write, I wrote more.  But, there are only so many friends you can tap for that purpose. That only netted me 1 night a week and a bonus night of writing a month.  SFWA write-ins, a spin-off activity from the Nebula Conference, netted me another write-in a week. Clarion Write-a-thon came along at a perfect time.  My husband had finally figured out he had to do some of the mental lifting.  And, working on the Scout troop COVID plan gave him a taste of all the complexities I had been juggling.

Clarion Write-a-thon gave me something to write for, that wasn’t me–because god forbid I do anything for myself.  I was writing for scholarships.  I was writing to help a program I believed in.  I was writing for something that I wanted to be there after the pandemic.  I was writing to save civilization itself.  Ok, maybe not civilization, but I was writing to a purpose that didn’t involve convincing myself that I was worth it.

I set a very reasonable goal of 1000 words-a-day for the duration.  I know I’m easily capable of 2500 words-a-day.  (My therapist, BTW, thinks the word count measures are funny as if I were talking making widgets.)  But lately I’ve been barely managing 500 words in a week.  It was an easy goal for any year but 2020–a stretch goal for this year of years.

I made the goal of 42,000 words the day before yesterday.  I’m currently at 43,342 not counting what I will record today.  I have 5 days to run that count higher and prove that maybe I won’t suddenly stop writing when Write-a-thon is over.  Some days were very hard.  There was one day I wrote 138 words and called it quits.  Other days were easy, slipping back into the 2,000-word count range.

Screen shot of my word count

As Clarion Write-a-thon comes to an end, the winners are the people who will get to go to Clarion in the coming years and me, for using it to get by groove back.  Also, one of my sponsors will be a winner, too, of a lovely piece of string art.

If you haven’t sponsored me or another author, please do so.  I know it’s an awful year, but even small donations add up.  I, of course, would love it if you sponsored me and helped spur on my writing Clarion Team to greater heights.