Monday, June 11, 2012

Writing sucks today

I'm having one of those days when everything I write sucks. Even writing my own name sucks (I mean, is that the best way to write my name or is there a better way? Last name first? No middle initial? Two lines instead of one?)

The details can drive one mad. And I'm good at driving myself mad.

I'm stuck on my second novel rewrite. I have my shitty first draft completed and am now rewriting and trying to make the whole book a little less shitty.

This is harder than I can say.

The first two chapters sing, and it's taken me months to get them to that point. I'm feeling discouraged: Do I really want to spend months rewriting one lousy chapter?

It's summer in Alaska. I want to be out in the mountains. I want to run. I want to lounge around eating pretzels dunked in Paul Newman's Ranch dressing.

I don't want to write.

At least, not today.

Friday, June 8, 2012

A grant, and a rejection

I was lucky and honored to be one of approximately 25 Alaska artist who received a Rasmuson Individual Artist award.

Photo credit: Rasmuson Foundation (I'm the startled-looking blonde near the back, hee, hee)

Yes, the money is much appreciated and will be a huge help with my upcoming project. But more than that, it's the honor of having been chosen, the acknowledgment, the pat on the back for a job well done.

Anyone who is a writer knows that such things don't arrive often.

For the most part, it's rejection, followed by more rejection, and then, when you're almost completely kicked down, even more rejection.

So I decided to write this post in thanks, not only for the grant, but for all of those people who unknowingly gave me a slight boost when my writing wasn't going well: The Fred Meyer cashier who gave me her chocolate chip recipe (thanks, honey); the guy at the gas station who told a joke while I was filling my Escort with unleaded; the Walmart employee who chased me down after I left my keys by the toilet paper.

I have many supportive friends, and they've helped more than I can say. But sometimes it's the unexpected gesture that keeps me going. Or, as Blanche DuBois said, "I have always depended on the kindness of strangers."

Oh, Blanche, it wasn't all your fault. Truly!

Which leads me to the not so "kind" news.

I received a rejection letter for the Margery Davis Boyden Wilderness Writing Residency. It was a very kind rejection, and they sent me $5 (!!).

Turns out I had sent too much with the application fee and they mailed me back the remainder. Yep, I was rejected but still got five bucks out of the deal.

Love you Abe!
 I was a bit crushed. Even though I was recently awarded a month-long residency at Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts for October, I wanted more. I wanted not just one residency, but two. Or maybe three. Or heck, an entire year of bouncing from residency to residency and writing like mad and never washing my hair and living like a hippie writer.

So I won't be living in a small cabin in the middle of nowhere in Oregon next year, with no electricity or running water, no neighbors, and limited contact with the outside world, sigh, sigh.

But I will be at KHN in October, and there will be electricity and running water and other people around, and I'm hoping to write like crazy, eat a lot of pretzels, meet a few new friends and run through the Nebraska cornfields.

Where I'll be in October, writing my heart out.

I suppose it's about balance or, as the old motto goes: You win some, you lose some.

Why, then, do the rejections linger so much longer than the awards and acceptances?

Writing: I'm presently working on an essay about running for a lit magazine contest
Reading: Anything and everything by Anne Tyler: I'm trying to improve my dialogue techniques and no one writes dialogue as well as Tyler.