Writer’s group and application preparation

I spent a good part of today preparing for the writer’s group I facilitate this Thursday night.  I had decided to focus on online resources but my latest Writer’s Digest arrived recently so I had a look through that and was pleasantly surprised to find lots of useful info on websites.  One that really caught my attention was http://www.authonomy.com.  It looks like a great resource for self promotion, sort of like an online writer’s group that agents and editors can eavesdrop on to find new talent.  You can post material there then read other’s work and give feedback.  I’ve bookmarked and intend to give it some more attention.

I also spent a bit of time gathering together my materials for the workshop Friday that will help me prepare my application to NYFA for a fellowship.  I created a folder and put in my artistic statement and artist’s resume from the last grant I applied for.  I’m wondering if it would be better to do the resume format or a biographical format?  I don’t have a lot that is truly about writing for the resume.  I think I’ll write the biography and see which looks better.  I could be more persuasive in a biography than the resume.

I also gathered what I’ve written in the past five years into the folder so I could review it and try to pick out only the best.  I still have to grab some items I posted online then I can start the selection process.  It seems a little daunting right now.  Is anything I’ve written good enough to even really have a chance at a fellowship?  I hope so.

Need I say more?

My Roses

Uncertain Destinations

“Write about a journey with an uncertain destination.”  ~ The Pocket Muse 2 by Monica Wood

Ah, isn’t that love?  Hell… isn’t that life?  I walked into my office this morning and was shocked to find an incredible bouquet of six HUGE red roses with white baby’s breath, green ferns and dusty turquoise eucalyptus in a square vase.   It was a complete and total shock.  My brain went through several thoughts in quick succession.  Are these for me? What are they doing on my desk?  Who could they be from?  J___?  Dare I hope?  I had figured the guy I had fallen for just wasn’t the type for giving flowers and I like him too much to let that matter.  I pulled out the card and read the sweet words therein.  I knew I was a lucky woman but he keeps showing me how lucky I am.  From the beginning, I had determined not to worry about where this relationship would go and just enjoy the journey.  Every minute with him makes me happier than the one before.

“Like grains of sand through an hourglass…”

Where does the time go?  My hourglass must have a hole in the bottom.  I can’t believe it’s been at least a month since I heard about this great opportunity for writers in New York State and I haven’t done a thing to get ready!  New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) awards Artists’ Fellowships every year in the amount of… drumroll please… $7,000.00.  *gasp*  You read that right… $7,000.00!

I calculated it out and that amount of money would let me take off one day a week, every week, for a year to write.  I can’t even imagine having that amount of time!  (Okay, maybe I can since I had extra time while I was substitute teaching, and again when I was only working half time because I couldn’t find a full time job for nine months after being downsized.  Anyway, it’s a heck of an opportunity for someone lacking time to write.  (Not sure if that would work with my job, but it sure sounds wonderful.)

This year NYFA is including fiction writers in the artists eligible.  (As I understand it, they don’t do that every year.)  Next week I’ll be going to a workshop to help me prepare to submit the grant, so I have to focus on putting together a portfolio of my work.  What to include?  I have one middle grade mystery novel finished, but I’ve recently decided the beginning needs re-working.  I have the first three chapters of a novel I really like, but my writer’s group last year said it seemed like I couldn’t decide what type of novel it was.  I have the start of a couple other novels, but not something I love as much.  I guess I’ll put it all together, re-read and then make a decision.

I’m not sure what else they will require for the grant application yet.  I’ve only applied for one other writer’s grant and they were only awarding a handful in that competition, though the pool of candidates is much bigger for this one.  At least I have an artist’s resume already made up because of that grant application.  I’ll do my best and hope.  That amout of money would afford me real time to write and submit my work.  Of course, now I just have to find the time to sort my work and put together an awesome application.    Wish me luck!

Oh, and if you’re interested, the web site for NYFA and the fellowships is http://www.nyfa.org.

To MFA or not to MFA?

I recently had my tarot read while visiting Salem, MA.  (How could I not?)  The reader told me he saw me going back to school in the next year.  Yikes!  Don’t I have enough debt?  But, I must admit, I’ve been considering taking a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing recently.   I’ve heard one side of the argument say that all you really need to improve your writing… is to write.  The other side of the argument is that having people really critique and direct you helps you grow, accelerates the process.  Since I’ll be turning 35 next month, accelerating the growth process sounds good to me. 

So, I took another look online at MFA programs and, lo and behold, Cornell University, which is reasonably nearby, has an MFA program in creative writing that actually doesn’t cost anything if you get in.  This is, of course, because you do things like edit the literary mag which means a very big outlay of time.  Sounds intriguing.  However, the way they describe the program makes it sound like the only reason you would enter the program is to become a college professor.  Well, that’s not what I want at all.  I like my job.  The only reason I would leave it would be to write full time. 

So, for the time being, I think I’ll try applying for a grant that would enable me to take a little time off to write more and focus on other methods of improving my craft.  I know it needs improving.  I just want an editor to work with me one on one.  LOL

Rainy day inspiration…

Rainy day inspiration...

Rainy day inspiration…

I love a good story…

People have commented to me in the past that they couldn’t imagine how authors came up with ideas for stories.  This dumbfounds me.

Stories are in the shade covering the barn door, that barn which was state of the art when it was built in the twenties but whose doors are rarely opened anymore.  Stories are in the sign beside the highway for a creek that I’ve seen hundreds of times as I passed on my way to work but one day it just sang to me.  Stories are in the community watch sign that I didn’t see on the side of a utility van, where I expected it.   They’re in the song lyrics and news headlines, in television shows and books that make me think… what if?  I’ve had essays come out of advice I found myself giving to three different people in as many days.

The problem, for me, isn’t getting ideas.  The problem is finding the time to turn them into stories.  The ideas are everywhere.

Hello world!

As a writer, I’ve been thinking about starting a blog for some time but, somehow, I’ve never taken the leap until now.  First, I wanted to figure out a pen name.  I had chosen one that never sat quite right for me.  Today, it finally hit me.  Melora is my best friend’s middle name.  I’ve always loved it and thought I wanted to name a child that, or at least a character.  Then I thought, what am I waiting for?  It would make a perfect pen name.  But what about the last name?  I started thinking through my family history and found three surnames that looked like possibilities.  Johnson just seemed right.  So here I am, writing world, Melora Johnson!  It’s time to start a blog.

Newer entries »