Martin's picks for GiveBig

GiveBig is here! You've already read Paul's overview on the day, with the list of books-and-literacy themed giving. But we thought personalized picks might help too.

So, here's where I think you can do the most good. My theme? Funding the education of writers you will be reading in the future. Also: watch for Paul's picks, coming at noon.

Clarion West Writers Workshop

There is no more impressive writer bootcamp, inside or outside of "genre" writing, than Clarion West. It is a trial by fire, six weeks long, completely intensive. Eighteen students live in dorms, no matter their age, work together, live together, dream together, fight together. It's a process that turns writers with desire into writers with skill and capability. Writers like current SWFA President Cat Rambo, current Clarion West board member Nisi Shawl, and Nebula winner Rachel Swirsky.

The instructors are the biggest names in the field — Octavia Butler, George R.R. Martin, Ursula K. Le Guin, Harlan Ellison, Neil Gaiman, Roger Zelazny. They come to Clarion West to teach not for the huge paycheck, but because they know they'll be able to make a difference in the life and work of these artists. There's always a boom of great Science Fiction and Fantasy writers doing readings around Seattle during June, thanks to Clarion West.

And when the workshop is not in place, day-long workshops happen throughout the year, for serious students to learn to apply craft.

Clarion West is a scrappy organization, but it's expensive doing what they do, and they always need extra consideration. They're my top pick for where you should send your money this year. Your investment will literally turn into the next wave of speculative fiction stories. You could be helping to fund the education of the next Octavia Butler.


Did you know Gloria Steinem wrote her most recent book in Washington State? Did you know Whidbey Island has one of the most revered writer's retreats in the United States, and that it focuses on women writers solely? The who's who of their alumni list would impress even the most jaded reader, but it's the names you don't know yet who most need the chance of a retreat that can help them transform their writing, with time to focus, and support from staff and alumni. What a treat. Hedgebrook is one-of-a-kind, and a great place to put your donation.

The Greater Seattle Bureau of Fearless Ideas

They're fearless alright. Without front windows thanks to the Phinney gas explosion, with a leaky roof, and with a decidedly big and bold plan for the future. This organization helps kids after school, and they do it in such a big-hearted way. The kids find a second home. We've been lacking our storefront space travel supply store since the explosion — perhaps if we give them more money now, they'll be up and running again sooner, teaching the young writers of tomorrow.