Haralambi Markov is a Bulgarian fiction writer, blogger and reviewer with a background in Marketing and SEO, who currently operates as a freelance writer. Generally off-kilter, but most pleasant, you can find Markov sitting somewhere with fingers on some sort of keyboard. You can find him rambling at his blog The Alternative Typewriter and on his Twitter at @HaralambiMarkov.
This year, I made a promise to myself that I’ll stop denying myself my dreams. I promised I’d do something crazy. Try my hand at a real adventure. Allow myself to shoot for the big bright stars even if I didn’t have all the coordinates figured out; even if I didn’t know how I’d launch myself in space first.
It was a silent promise made on New Year’s Eve, when so many others like it are being born and then soon forgotten. Yet, where other promises faded, this one took root and didn’t let go. I found myself hungry for doing something for myself. Something that would make me happy rather than play to someone else’s satisfaction and I have nothing but time and ability as I’ve said goodbye to higher education (for now) and the freelancer gig isn’t going that bad.
Enter Clarion, the ability to enroll and the possibility to be accepted.
I didn’t put any serious thought into applying until two weeks ago and I’m going to walk you through my thought process, which at one point led to seriously binge watching TV shows to get my brain to shut up:
“Why not? Wasn’t I published in a couple of great places last year? But how am I going to get there? I don’t have any money. It would be such a waste to put so much effort and then not go at all. I shouldn’t. I really shouldn’t. But I know so many people who went there and urge me to go! I should. Yeah, as if anyone is going to accept me. I didn’t write at all last year. I have nothing to show. I have learned no new skills. I can’t even sell my backlog of finished pieces. Nope. Not going to do. I’ll spend this year writing and I’ll apply next year, ya know. God, but I want to. But I will fail. I’ve failed in just about everything I’ve tried. This will be a glorious failure for everyone I know to learn.
“But, but, but… It’s the VanderMeers, Catherynne Valente, Nora Jemisin and Gregory Frost and Geoff Ryman. Holy fuck… I’d get to meet them. I’d get to discuss my writing for once. Learn so many things. But it might not happen. I’m bilingual. I’m fake. They’ll know. These people WILL know. It probably will never happen. So what? Lots of things never happen. I’ll just do it until I get in or I die in the process.”
That’s actually the most difficult part of the application process for me. Allowing myself to say yes and overcome the mentality that limits me with what’s reasonable and what’s viable and what’s most likely to happen. My life has been about doing what’s right, what’s expected and what’s reasonable. Going to a writer’s resort for six weeks halfway across the world is so far removed from my reality it took so much pushing and mustering courage to actually make the first step.
I’ve just gathered all the critiques for both stories I’m submitting and I really can’t thank my friends who have taken their time and put so much effort to show me how I can be better. It’s empowering to hear people I admire like Angela Slatter, David Edison, Jonathan Wood, Jaym Gates, Natania Barron, Jacques Barcia and Theresa Bazelli say so many positive things about my writing and think I can do it, I can get in.
It’s proof I’m not fake, even though I’ve been discriminated against in the past just because I did not grow up in an English speaking country and therefore my writing is subpar. The road to Clarion is hard on my mind as I find myself wrestling with demons I thought I’d won against, but I’m doing the work. I’m editing my stories, gathering information and hoping for the best.