Interview: Marie Vibbert, from Write-a-thon to Clarion 2013
Still on the fence about the 2013 Write-a-thon? Read this interview with Marie Vibbert, one of our top ten Write-a-thon writers in 2012, who after her Write-a-thon experience applied to the Workshop and is in our 2013 class: Clarion “seemed a wonderful, magical thing. I’d have given anything to go, but … it always seemed out of reach for me. In recent years, I’d given up on the dream of going, and in part, on the dream of being a writer. The Write-a-thon woke me up.”
Do you have dreams that need awakening? Sign up for the Write-a-thon and start writing!
How did you become aware of the Write-a-thon? Were you aware of Clarion, and planning to apply?
Since I was sixteen, I’ve belonged to a writing workshop here in Cleveland. Several members of the workshop had been to Clarion, and participated in the Write-a-thon. They encouraged me to join in. When they talked about Clarion – it seemed a wonderful, magical thing. I’d have given anything to go, but I had to work my way through college, first, and there was never enough money or free time – like my dad always said, working seasonally himself as a construction worker: you get either money or time, never both. So it always seemed out of reach for me. In recent years, I’d given up on the dream of going, and in part, on the dream of being a writer. The Write-a-thon woke me up, presented me with a way to be a part of this.
Was the Write-a-thon experience enjoyable? Did it help your writing?
It was tremendously enjoyable. I set myself a high goal – 50 stories. I defined a story as at least 1,000 words long and with a complete plot. The goal was high enough that I had to push myself the entire way through the Write-a-thon, and concentrating on creating complete story drafts kept me from getting bogged down. I made decisions fast and didn’t worry about the quality of my ideas. I was forced, in short, to be true to myself and write what I really wanted to write. It was a bit of a breakthrough for me. I hadn’t realized how much I censored myself in my writing, expecting critical first readers. I did have a few bouts of writer’s block, two three-day stretches of NOTHING, but in the last week and on the very last day I finished off three of the most awful stories ever written to meet my goal.
Also I was very moved by the generosity of my friends. I didn’t want to be a nagging fundraiser – I asked particular people I knew were interested in Clarion or Science Fiction or my writing, and I made a few posts on my blog and Facebook wall. And the donations just poured in. I started out hoping I’d make just ten dollars or so, and ended up in a competitive race to beat fellow Cleveland workshop-member Ferret.
How much did it influence your decision to apply to Clarion?
I’d say it led directly to my applying to Clarion. Because I told my writer’s workshop friends that I was glad to have had the chance to be a part of Clarion through the Write-a-thon, since I obviously never would go there in real life – and they started pressuring me to try for it, to ask for the time off. Geoff Landis was particularly relentless, asking me every time I saw him, “So have you applied to Clarion yet?” At first I was a bit angry. Didn’t they know this was impossible? But then I went ahead and asked for the time off, and after my boss got over his shock, he said it wasn’t entirely impossible, if every person on the chain of command agreed and I fixed every computer problem in the entire building before then. So I applied.
How excited are you about going to Clarion this summer?
I’m still not quite certain this is real. It feels like I’m getting a reprieve from adulthood – a chance to be a college student again! I’ll wear nothing but sundresses the entire time! No one will ask me to set up the email on their iPhone for six weeks! That alone is heavenly. That I get to spend this time intensely working on my writing craft with people I admire? That I feel like I’m finally making positive steps toward becoming what I wanted to be when I grow up? Yeah. Pretty darn excited. I’m not being a very good employee this week.
The impact of donations made to writers like Marie is clear.
I was very moved by the generosity of my friends. I didn’t want to be a nagging fundraiser – I asked particular people I knew were interested in Clarion or Science Fiction or my writing, and I made a few posts on my blog and Facebook wall. And the donations just poured in. I started out hoping I’d make just ten dollars or so, and ended up in a competitive race to beat fellow Cleveland workshop-member Ferret.
Thanks to Write-a-thon Director Jim Shea for conducting this interview and from a class of 2010’er, good luck Marie!