Day 21 VCCA: Checking In

It’s been a fulfilling
three weeks. I’ve applied for three fellowships, submitted to four literary
magazines, and maintained my editing duties all the while. The fellowship
applications, of course, took the most out of me emotionally. I’m making a
sincere effort to approach this process with a little less anxiety than last
year. To that end, I’m only applying to things I really want and that I feel very qualified for. The market is
saturated and funding is down, so positions are more competitive with lower
availability. Everybody knows that. I’m an optimist but I’m also seasoning that
with a bit of reality—therefore I see no reason to fling myself at every opportunity just because it might pan out. I’m saving my energy and focus for the
positions I think will put me in the top 10% of the applicant pool. 

But back to my three weeks
here at VCCA: I came here to write, specifically, with the goal to complete two
new short stories. I started one at Madrono Ranch that I finished up and
revised here at VCCA. It’s called “The Quiet Kind.” I’ve since started the
first draft of another one, tentatively titled “Getting Perspective.” It needs
another half day before I’ll call the first draft “done”—and even still, it
will need work after that. But for now it’s where it needs to be. With only two
weeks left of my fellowship, today seemed to be a turning point. If I wanted
going to meet my goal, I’d need to start a story. Pronto. I’ve been stewing for
days, trying to court the muse head on and sideways and by surprise. Finally,
this afternoon, after a few hours of a good work out and a few hours of good
reading, then a brief session of free-writing—I stumbled into a new short
story. Within three hours, I had 2,000 words. (That’s about two days worth of
writing done in one afternoon—extraordinarily unusual for me.) Tonight, after a
few Fellows present a poetry reading, I’ll be back at it. For now, here’s the first
paragraph of the very beginnings of this first draft. I can’t wait to get back
at it! 

minute Bradley’s at the dinner table shoveling homemade cherry pie into his
mouth and the next he’s tearing down the driveway in his Ford Ranger, the
clean, Arkansas air slapping him across the face with that unmistakable feeling
of home. It’s been ten months and twenty-three days, but who’s counting? Not
Bradley. Not anymore. Not since he kicked off his combat boots, hugged his mom,
and split a twelve pack with his old man and not since now—miles clicking along
the county road as the Ranger pushes seventy—Bradley, trying to make it to his
friend Jared’s house in under ten like before…”

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.