My first step was to dust off a couple of my old stories and submit them with an application to the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing Workshop, which I attended in 2002.
Clarion is a six-week course, with a new instructor every week. To get in, prospective students send in two stories and an application fee. The workshop’s coordinators read the stories, looking for students with potential, but also will rule out anybody whose stories are so good they probably wouldn’t get as much out of Clarion. Accepted students pay their tuition, put their affairs in order, and escape the real world for a month and a half.
At the time, there was Clarion, and then there was Clarion West, which is in my home town of Seattle. My wife, who graduated Clarion West in 1984, said I should choose Clarion, because if I stayed in town I’d be too tempted to deal with mundane life, including helping parent our daughter, who was three at the time. So, I applied, I was accepted, and I went to the University of Michigan for six weeks.
Our instructors were Patricia Wrede, Terry Bisson, Leslie What, Geoff Ryman, the editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Tim Powers, and Karen Joy Fowler. That adds up to seven, and I said one instructor per week. Patrick was an extra added attraction for week five, and Tim and Karen shared the last two weeks. The first teacher or two cover the basics, and each succeeding one adds to the writer’s set of skills.
The day before I went to Clarion, I sent a story to Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine. I got a response accepting it from Gardner Dozois while I was there. That was for a fairly short story called “First Principles”.