As you can see from our progress chart at right, Clarion now has one week to raise $4,200. Most of you who are reading this have given all you can in these difficult times, and we would not ask more of you. But there is one final way that you can help Clarion: share this link as widely as you can. Let’s spend this last week reaching as many new people as we can, finding as many $5 and $10 donations as we can in remote corners of the Internet. As a fantasy writer, I believe in miracles, and I’ve not yet given up.
For those who are just now coming to the site, you may be asking yourself, “Why should my spare $10 go to Clarion today?” To answer that, for a moment I need to take off my hat as Clarion’s blog administrator and speak to you personally, from my heart.
Clarion has been around for over 40 years, and is founded with the idea that science fiction and fantasy are more than mere escape. The human race is defined, at least in part, by its ability to imagine things unseen and dream of things not yet done. Through fantasy and speculation, readers can be induced to think about profound societal problems and challenges that might repel the very same readers if introduced in a context that hits too close to home. Science fiction and fantasy have always been subtle and palatable forces for change and self-awareness, and these genres reach people who otherwise shy away from anything that resembles a sermon or a direct call to action. When I was in such a deep depression that I was turning off the news at any mention of Iraq or Afghanistan, I was still watching Battlestar Galactica and coming to understand the desperation that could cause an occupied community to commit reckless, violent acts against those who meant to help them.
Speculative fiction is powerful because it is palatable. And yet what support is found in daily life or mainstream academia for those who feel compelled to write this brand of fiction? In my personal experience, very little. There is a strong, supportive science fiction and fantasy community, but for a shy, uncertain, troubled girl growing up in Tennessee, there was no clear road from “where I am now” to “basking in the appreciation of my fellow speculative writers.” Clarion was that road, for me. I am not as stout-hearted as the Jim Butchers of the world who can persist for years in a vacuum. Without the support and encouragement (and kick in the pants) that Clarion offered me, I would still be an unpublished writer, with no hope for my future.
I believe there are hundreds if not thousands of other people out there with vast, untapped storytelling talent, people who may need just a bit of hand-holding, as I did. Not all of these people can afford to pay the cost of tuition at Clarion. We are asking for your donations not for ourselves, but for them. All of our financial aid has to come from you. Clarion has no “angel.” We have no magic source of funds. Every dollar we raise, we have had to ask for directly, and sometimes we have had to ask it of people just like you. There is no Clarion-loving billionaire waiting for the last minute to chip in the five grand he was planning to spend on a new watch. Every dollar that goes to help future students of Clarion comes from people like you, who are sacrificing a tank’s worth of gas or a night at the movies as a way of saying “Thank you, in advance, for the worlds you are going to offer me.”