Outsider = Writer or Writer = Outsider?

I think being an outsider is a common feeling for writers, whether being an outsider makes us turn to writing or being a writer makes us feel like an outsider because we’re too busy observing and writing to interact the way some people do.  Which came first, being an outsider or being a writer?  I don’t know.

I don’t think it’s necessarily the same thing as being an introvert.    I’ve read that an introvert is a person who feels drained by being with other people.  They need time alone to recharge.  I don’t think I fall into that category.  I enjoy alone time but I generally find my writer’s group energizing.

Now, communicating, particularly with people who don’t communicate the same way or have the same frames of reference, can be tiring.  Small groups are easier in that respect, so maybe I’m wrong and I am a bit of an introvert.

I tried to take a Briggs Myers Personality test but I think I overthought it.  No big surprise there.  In the list of careers that were good fits for me, it suggested Librarian.  A-yup.  On the list of careers that don’t fit me, it said Writer.  Well, not an option.  It’s who I am.

I’ve often thought that if I managed to get a career writing off the ground, so that I didn’t have to work at a regular nine-to-five job, I’d need to either get a part-time job or start volunteering somewhere, just to maintain some social interaction.  I think it would be entirely too easy to get caught up living inside my head full time but I’ve experienced that in the past and found it not to really feel good.  I also crave the social interaction.

It all boils down to the fact that a good writer’s group can help keep you mentally healthy as well as improving your writing.  Go find one.

Disappointment? Maybe

Well, I finally recieved the e-mail from the New York Foundation for the Arts.  I did not qualify for a Fellowship this year.  Oddly, I’m not that disappointed.  I’m not sure if that’s because I knew it was a long shot (but worth it at $7,000.00!) or because things have been going pretty well with Yahoo! Voices.  (Though not nearly to the tune of $7,000.00.)  Maybe I’ll be more disappointed tomorrow, or maybe I’ll just get on with writing some more.

I had a busy weekend, submitting various pieces of writing to Yahoo! Voices.  My latest one just posted.  It’s actually an essay that has taken me over a year to write, about the night a tiny tornado waltzed through our yard and sideswiped us.  I was home alone with the baby.  Funny how you run on instinct when something like that happens. I called it 27 Minutes, though maybe I should have called it The Tiny Tornado That Waltzed Through My Yard.

I started that essay about five times but never quite finished it.  It’s not very long so all I can say is that my brain resisted it.  I suppose that’s natural when you are writing about a traumatic experience.  I still get very nervous when it storms in the evening.  I’m not sure if that will ever go away.  Writing is supposed to be therapeutic, and I suppose it can be, but I don’t think this has helped me that much.  I think time has done the most good.  Still, I’m oddly proud that I finally got it out and done.  My writer’s group suggested marketing it to many different venues but I felt like I just needed to be done with it.  So, there it is.  Maybe some people will find it interesting.

6/12 – Okay, a little more disappointed today.  Things to do though.  Best to just keep moving along.

Here’s a pic from the next morning.

27 Minutes Pic

Carriage house roof lying on garage and my car.

NYFA Fellowship Workshop

The past few days I’ve been gathering my writing together, re-reading the information on how to apply for the fellowship and working on a biography to include.  I had pretty well decided that I would use an excerpt from my novel about a young woman in a post WWIII, post pandemic world for my writing sample.  It’s just a matter of editing to tighten it up and deciding which 20 pages to include.  I wasn’t sure what this workshop would have to offer me.  What I ended up taking away from it was a clear idea of how the selection process works.  It made me see that I really have to give them something that is going to stand out, that’s unique, in order to make it through the consecutive rounds.  I hope I can do that. 

My main questions had to do with what to put in a bio since I don’t have a lot of experience or a list of publications that I’ve been in, or an MFA degree.  I found out that the bio should be a snapshot of where I am right now as a writer.   I was somewhat surprised that I was told to include the fact that I facilitate a writer’s group at the library where I wor , but that it was okay to just say that I had published writing online rather than listing out what and where.  Sort of like using a large brush to paint with a broad stroke. 

The workshop really made it a lot easier to focus what I am working on right now and prepare for the application.  It also energized me to get to work.  I think I stand a good chance, perhaps as good as anyone else.

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.