World of Writing

Here is what is happening:
Inch by inch, I’m fighting for momentum.

The history:
When I graduated in June, I came back on fire and didn’t let up with my creative writing until fall. I wrote more and read more. I sent out more submissions in two months than I had in the past year.

In September, I had a break from work and took a week off from the creative writing to coincide. Simultaneously, a boatload of freelance work appeared before me, all a result of the reputation I’ve been trying to build as an arts writer. National magazine work, regional editing work, literary editing, A&E coverage for the Xpress…you name it, I took it. In terms of my career, it was work I simply could no turn down. Add $2,000 in medical bills (knees) and the upcoming reality of graduate loans, and the decision couldn’t have been easier.

During that time, my creative worked stopped in service of completing 4 major grant and fellowship applications. My rationale? I had to apply for those grants if I wanted the time to do the creative writing. Ahh yes, the double-edged sword. I don’t regret it—it needed to happen—but it was a lot to sacrifice.

Before I knew it, it was November. In the past two weeks I’ve applied for two more grants or jobs, written another article, read submissions, and took on another writing assignment that had a one-week turnaround time.

The future:
Now it’s winter. There is half a foot of snow on Fork Mountain and a pile of papers just as deep across my desk. I have five artists to deal with in December and four deadlines in the next five weeks. I’m on seasonal layoff, and the promise I have made to myself is that my time gets split 50/50. Half for the freelancing, half for the creative work. Add training in the martial arts in, and it’s more like 40/40/20.

The verdict:
Where does a writer begin again, in this practice that will always be about spinning new webs and tossing filament after filament out into the world?

Last week I received a rejection letter. Today I received three more. They were all for my creative work—writings from my MFA thesis. In between I secured publication of an interview with FavoriteNonfictionWriter, which will be published early 2009—that’s exciting. I’m trying desperately not to look at my calendar, as I’m due to learn about 2 grants in the next ten days.

I try to conjure the wisdom and love of my advisors. Jack sent an email today that warmed my heart. Pete and I harass each other about once a month, which feels right. Claire is with me, always on my shoulder, and she’s usually got a twinkle in her eyes. We’ve made a date for dinner in Chicago come February. And Judy, well, Judy would tell me to buckle down, girl, and keep at it. Then she’d laugh a wild horse laugh, and pat me on the shoulders as though I know what to do.

And perhaps I do.

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