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Christopher Nickolas Carlson
|What I Write||
A few years ago, while working in Beijing, I got a rejection via email from a journal that is now defunct. The words were kind and supportive, but the crux of the feedback was that the story “just wasn’t quite there yet.” Earlier that day I had submitted the story for consideration as part of my packet for Clarion West, and a pit grew in my stomach. I got some hot pot down the street and thought about how I had just wasted the money. If the story wasn’t good enough for publication, then surely it wouldn’t help me get into Clarion West. I ate my weight in tripe and lotus root and mushrooms that night, my lips numbing occasionally from the Sichuan peppers.
A couple of months later, I missed a couple of calls on my cell phone. The cell I used in China was a knock-off Nokia, one of the stick phone varieties that are virtually indestructible, a good choice for my clumsy fingers. The connection was terrible, but eventually I was able to answer the call and speak to the inimitable Huw, who told me I’d been selected to attend the workshop that summer. Sitting in the oppressive warmth and smoggy air, I whooped for joy and gladly accepted. Nothing has been the same since.
My goals for the Clarion West Write-a-thon this year will be somewhat modest, my day job keeping me fairly busy, but I want to support the workshop and all of the lucky, wonderful people who are experiencing their own six weeks of inspiration, frustration, engagement, and insomnia. I will be completing two short stories during this time and submitting them both for publication to open markets. I will also continue to follow my love for genre poetry and complete a packet of five poems, set to be submitted to market in the final week of the workshop. I hope everyone in the Clarion West Community has an excellent summer, and I look forward to watching as this community comes together to support the workshop that supported us in our dreams.
This year’s goals are modest but achievable. I will be completing two full-length short stories and packet of five genre poems. The packet of poems and the duo of stories will all be submitted to market by the sixth week of the workshop.
I believe every dollar counts when raising money for the arts. There is no donation too small and no consideration too minor. We are all engaged in a mutual enterprise of creating excellent genre fiction, and I am thrilled that so many Clarion West alumni and friends return each year to support this excellent endeavor. I don’t have a specific dollar goal in mind, but if I could double the amount I raised last year, that would feel great.