There are just two days left in the fundraiser for the Octavia E. Butler scholarship. Over on the Carl Brandon blog I provided folks with 5 excellent reasons to support the scholarship either by buying tickets to win an eReader or autographed book or buy donating directly (as Jeff Vandermeer just did). Here’s a taste:
3. from Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, 2009 Butler Scholar and Clarion West alum:
“I remember telling people about how receiving the Butler Scholarship made me feel like my dreams had been given wings. …[Without it], the chances of me attending Clarion West would have been close to zero.
To me, being given that scholarship was like receiving word that there were people who believed in me and in the stories that I had to tell. There were people who believed that what I had to say was something worth saying and something worth listening to. This knowledge inspires me even now that I am far away from all the beloved people who inspired me and who continue to inspire me. Each time I sit down to write, I think of the people who support the Butler scholarship and there aren’t enough words to say how thankful I am for you. You may not be aware of it, but in my darkest moments, the knowledge that you believed in me has kept me here.”
5. from Jeff Vandermeer, author and Clarion instructor:
“The Clarion workshop is important for reasons that go beyond the value of in-depth workshopping from six different experienced instructors and talks by other guests that provide talented beginners with the tools to improve their writing.
It is also important career-wise because many of the instructors can be of use in shortening the path to publication through sharing of contacts, resources, and leverage. Many instructors also aren’t just writers but editors, which is also of use. In addition, the connect to and comraderie with fellow students will, over time, mean more than being part of a community, since many Clarion students go on to have full-on writing careers.
Therefore, in short Clarion is partially about access, and lack of access for talented writers due to monetary concerns is something that diminishes the field and makes it even harder for talent to win out.”
We are in the final days of the Butler Scholarship fundraising prize drawing! We have raised a lot of money! We need to raise more! Why? Well…
In order to go to Clarion in San Diego, a student must come up with $4,957. In order to go to Clarion West in Seattle, a student must come up with $3,200.
Every year the scholarship pays for one student to go to each. Thus, many thousands of dollars are needed. Thus, this fundraiser.
There was no specific goal in mind when we started this project. I wanted to raise at least $1,000, which is a little over what I raised for the scholarship last year. Now my goal is to raise enough to cover tuition for one student. It would be awesome to be able to cover the Clarion West tuition. But how much more awesome if we could raise enough to cover the Clarion Diego tuition? It’s possible.
If you’ve already bought tickets, thanks! Would you mind spreading the word far and wide? If you haven’t already bought a ticket, please do! Or, if you just want to donate, you can do that as well.
It costs a lot to go to Clarion. In this way, you can help offset that financial burden and support a new writer.
Just in case you didn’t see this on the Carl Brandon blog:
We also have a first edition of the groundbreaking anthology Dark Matter on offer, which has been signed by a number of the book’s contributors, including:
editor Sheree R. Thomas
We have just 7 days left before the Butler Scholarship fundraiser ends. I won’t post about this every day, but I’m going to post about it three more times. This is the first.
Here’s a story I’ve told before, but it bears telling again. When I applied to go to Clarion West, I was at the tail end of a very difficult, life-changing year. In 2002 several things happened to me. The first is that I wrote more short stories in one year than I ever had before, thus making me feel like a real writer. The second is that I realized the whole working full-time for a blah job just to pay the bills thing was not cutting it in the keeping myself intact department. The third was that I got cancer, which put thing one and thing two in perspective right quick.
The cancer I had was caught very early, was eliminated by an operation, and thankfully required minimal aftercare to deal with completely. Still, that kind of thing will knock you on your ass in a minute. I decided that I needed to get out of New York and leave my job behind and focus on being a writer. And step one of that focus was to go to Clarion.
I applied to both Clarion and Clarion West. I did not have much money. Certainly not enough to cover tuition. Especially after paying to get out of my lease early, paying for a U-Haul, and leaving behind steady income. I started a “Send Tempest To Clarion” fund, and my generous friends donated. But I still did not have enough to pay tuition. I was willing to take out a loan, even at a high interest rate, because I knew this was important for me to do.
I got accepted to both Clarion and Clarion West. I opted for West because three of my heroes were teaching there that year. I spoke to Neile (one of the co-admins) on the phone and told her that I did need financial assistance if there was any, as I had little money. My thought was that if scholarships could cover just 1/3rd, I could get the rest somehow. Neile called me up shortly after I filed my financial aid application and told me that my entire tuition was covered. Not by the normal scholarships, though. A person had paid my full tuition. Someone who wished to remain anonymous.
I can’t remember if I cried right there on the phone or held it until after, but I did cry.
I do remember asking Neile to convey a huge thank you to that person when she called. I repeated this entreaty when I finally got to Clarion West all those weeks later. And I believe I’ve mentioned it on this blog a few times, too. But it bears repeating again:
Thank you, whoever you are/were. That was such an amazing gift.
Going to either of the Clarions is a giant commitment. Not only do you have the cost for tuition, but many also leave behind jobs, houses, apartments, family, financial obligations. And there’s no guarantee that going to the workshop will result in you getting published or going on to be a full-time writer. Of course, it’s not all about the writing. At the Clarions, students get to meet important people in the community and network, which is important in any career. And you make connections with the other students, who may go on to become great writers as well. Or, at least, really good friends and supporters.
Not every awesome spec fic writer went to Clarion or Clarion West. But it is an opportunity that many decide to avail themselves of and then benefit from.
When that anonymous person paid my tuition, I felt like she or he was saying to me: your voice matters. I believe that enough to give you thousands of dollars. Prove me right.
This is why, ever since its inception, I have been a supporter of the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship. Each year, this fund does for two students of color going to Clarion and Clarion West what that donor did for me, which is to say: your voice matters. It matters so much that we are going to give you thousands of dollars for this chance to improve your writing and meet people in this community who will further support you.
Except this time the money doesn’t come from just one person, it comes from hundreds, maybe thousands. It comes from those of you who have already bought tickets to win an eReader. It comes from those who don’t particularly want an eReader, but are willing to donate directly to the fund. I hope you’re one of those people.
I finally compiled the complete list of fiction, poetry and essays that we’re going to pre-load on the eReaders in the Butler Scholarship fundraiser. The list is far longer than I’d hoped when I first conceived of this project. And the stuff on there is by a ton of really fancy people. We even got contributions from many of the Butler Scholars — that is Clarion & Clarion West students who’ve already benefited from financial assistance from this scholarship. Click here to see the full list.
The first week has gone really well. Thank you to everyone who has spread the word and bought tickets. I’m going to keep the momentum up because we’ve got 10 days to go and a high goal to reach.
As some of you know, every year for the past several I’ve done the Clarion West Write-a-thon, a fundraising event for the 6 week writing workshop I attended a few years ago. Usually what I do is split the money I raise between Clarion West and the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship, which assists writers of color who are accepted into Clarion West and Clarion Diego. This year I wasn’t able to do the Write-a-thon because I had no time. But I was feeling very guilty as I raised around $1,900 the last time. I vowed to come up with a fundraising idea that would require a bit less intense commitment from myself but would still raise a nice chunk of change.
Thus, I am pleased to announce that the Carl Brandon Society is holding a prize drawing to support the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship Fund. For those who don’t know, the Carl Brandon Society is an organization dedicated to racial and ethnic diversity in speculative fiction. So it’s fitting that the prizes available consist of three awesome eReaders. Entrants can win one of two Barnes & Noble Nooks, One of two Kobo Readers, and an Alex eReader from Spring Design. And to sweeten the pot even more, all of the eReaders will come pre-loaded with short stories, poems, and books by writers of color.
Tickets cost $1 each and you can buy as many as you want for any of the eReaders you’re interested in. Click here to buy tickets. The drawing began last week and will run through November 22, 2010.
I want to give a shout out to Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Spring Design as they generously donated the devices for this drawing, and also to the authors who are donating stories, poems, books and essays to tempt you. We don’t have the full list of authors yet, but they include: N. K. Jemisin, Nisi Shawl, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Terence Taylor, Ted Chiang, Shweta Narayan, Chesya Burke, Moondancer Drake, Saladin Ahmed, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz and more.
One final note: eReaders make awesome holiday gifts. So, even if you’re not interested in one for yourself, I’m sure there’s a book-loving person on your list who would love one. Tickets are just one dollar! And the proceeds go to an awesome cause.