Clarion West 2011: Getting the Phone Call

I got the call in the middle of March, the day after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. I was on the phone with my father, a retired Nuclear Plant Trainer, and he was explaining to me the likely scenario at Fukushima. I lived in a little town near Hiroshima for a year as an undergraduate, and still have friends scattered around the country. My partner has aunts and uncles and cousins in Tokyo. I’ve been dreaming of going back for years. So when my phone started beeping, letting me know there was a call on the other line from a number I wasn’t familiar with, I let it go to voice mail. I reasoned it was probably a call from work or a wrong number. I joked to myself, “Ha. Maybe that was Clarion West.”

It was.

I had a voice mail waiting for me from Neile Graham, who has a lovely, friendly voice. I called back, calming myself, listing all the possible reasons I might have been called that were NOT about acceptance.

My application was incomplete.
I hadn’t sent in the application fee.
I was an alternate.
They were calling to ask me to please never apply to Clarion West again.

But Neile told me I had been invited to attend. After squealing and jumping around and running into the kitchen and telling my partner, “It’s Clarion West!” I finally calmed down enough to tell Neile, “Yes! I will be there.”

I love that Clarion West calls the new class to let them know they’ve been accepted. It’s that first jolt of connection, of waking up your mind to “hey! this is really happening!” But even after speaking with Neile, I couldn’t accept that I’d actually be attending the workshop. I began to think it might be reality when I received a confirmation email later that night, but then I had to wait all through March to find out who my classmates were. I began to think that the release of the class list had been delayed because they had decided they didn’t want me to attend after all, and were trying to figure out a way to tell me.

Now that it’s April, and we’ve got an email list set up where we’re talking about Clarion West preparations, it is beginning to feel real at last.

I’ve sent in my deposit to secure my place at the workshop. I’m waiting for Monday to roll around so I can buy my ticket to the Locus Awards. And there’s a packet of information coming in the mail soon.

But I don’t think I’ll believe it until I arrive in Seattle and enter the mysterious sorority house, and sit down to workshop the kind of stories I love with people who love them too. 

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