Hi Fam,

Lisa Bolekaja here, and tomorrow I head off for my Clarion experience. Originally I was going to try and blog here, but it seems like I may be too busy to do anything! So I will be keeping a journal and will probably post up how I'm fairing week by week. When the workshop has finished, I will then go into more detail about my experience to encourage others to apply and go for it!

I'm really excited, a little nervous, and really open to the challenge of writing six stories in six weeks. If all goes well, I can basically say I wrote a books worth of stories. My fellow Clarionites are coming from all over the world, and they are equally thrilled to have this opportunity to write what we love in the company of other SF, Fantasy, & Horror lovers.

I will be going to Comic Con in San Diego. One of the many perks in being a Clarionite is that Comic Con has provided free passes for Saturday at the Con. So if anyone here is planning to go to San Diego for the Con, look me up! I will be attending the annual Black Panel, and will check out smaller seminars. Also, please check out my friend Korby Marks' "Stormbringers" booth. He's been there every year that he's created his comic series. He's a great guy and very helpful in introducing me to the idea of making my own comic series independently. I met him years ago at The Black Panel. Hope to see some of you in my hometown in July!

Right now I'm packing up my things, and reading last minute notes and instructions for Clarion. One of the key things they do is set up a private blog for new classmates, so I've met all my fellows in virtual reality, and we've spent the last two months blogging to each other, looking at our pictures (so we know what we look like!) and sharing our ideas, concerns and interests. So going into the program, you already feel comfortable and can hit the ground running. Several of us are already planning to the join the UCSD gym and do yoga together to keep our physical selves in top shape for our mental selves. Very important.

An extra plus for me is going into the program as an Octavia E. Butler scholar. As some of you know, it was Octavia Butler herself who introduced me to Clarion back when I was a newbie writer trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my writing. I met her in person at book signings, and each time she mentioned Clarion and I was too scared. I realize now that I wasn't ready. I was writing screenplays and doing other things instead of being fully commited to my short stories. And honestly, I needed to live life so I'd have something to say. Some writers are late bloomers, and I embrace that.

When she died, I was crushed. I didn't apply to Clarion liked she encouraged me. But I knew 2012 was my year, and when I missed the deadline for Clarion 2011 back in 2010, I affirmed my place in the class of 2012. I always said things like "When I go to Clarion next summer..." I never said "If I Go.' I started saving money. No more eating out so much, not as much traveling, no more buying books, just checking them out from the library. No movie going. I would need that money for Clarion.

And the real blessing from that?


The month I had finally saved enough money to cover the tution AND have enough to eat and live when it was over, I was notified that I was awarded an Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship to help off set my expenses. I cried the moment I got the word. People often say, "I'll believe it when I see it." I swear to you, I did the opposite. I envisioned it, and it came to pass with affirmative prayer, writing my butt off, and of course Octavia having my back. Getting the scholarship made me feel like she was letting me know that I followed through for myself. Now it's all on me to do the work. And have fun while doing it.

I want to wish everyone a productive summer. I'm going to soak everything up and bring what I can to you in a few months. Please visit the Carl Brandon Society webpage. They are the organization that awarded me my scholarship to help cover my tuition costs. They are dedicated to encouraging writers of color to write what we do to get our voices out into the speculative fiction world. If you could make a donation of any kind (and a donation to BSFS too while you're at it!) to their Octavia E. Butler Memorial fund I'd be grateful. Scholarship amounts vary every year, and it's all coming from donations. The same goes for the Clarion Foundation that  has different funders helping out all writers attending the workshop.  We have to pay it forward because next year, I know it's going to be one of you in Clarion 2013. Affirm it!

I'll write to all of you on the flipside. Making ya proud of course!

Lisa Bolekaja

Clarion 2012

Octavia E. Butler Scholar

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