Sunday, August 2, 2015

That Sweet, Sweet Grant Cheddar, Writing News, Art Win

I don’t have much this week—it was a long and brutal work week, and all I did was go to work, come home, collapse sweltering onto the couch, and do the whole thing over again the next day. All work and no play has made this a dull typist, so this will be a short-ish post.

Someone from my writing group recently sent me a link to a grant application for fiction writers. It’s a $10,000.00 unrestricted grant, just for being a good storyteller. I haven’t looked into it with any seriousness yet, but I’m thinking about applying—not because I have any chance of winning, but because it would be an exercise in pulling myself together and formally presenting myself as a writer, which I’ve never really done. I’m finally at the point that I think of myself as a writer and can even call myself a writer out loud, but I have never, for example, put together a writer’s resume, compiled my publications credits in one document, or done any formal analysis of my own work, all of which is required for the application. I feel somehow if I go through the process of applying, by the end of it I will have a tidy package of Writer Me, all ship-shape and shiny, that I can present as proof of my legitimacy. If nothing else, it will be fun to fantasize about the possibility, however remote, of an extra ten grand to throw around.

In writing news, I’ve been moping around (insert obligatory gripe about the endless Seattle heat wave here) for the last month or so, feeling sun-shot and lazy, waiting for inspiration to strike. I think I finally hit on something yesterday; an idea for a short piece that is rapidly blossoming into a full-length story about a wealthy recluse. That’s never been done before, so right out of the gate, I have originality on my side! I haven’t gotten very far with it, but it felt good to work on something again. It looks like I may have a new publisher for “The Acme Employee Handbook”, but no information at the moment on when it may be coming out. The novel is a still awaiting final feedback, editing, and proofing, but it’s my goal to get it out the door and into the hands of an agent before the end of the year.

I mentioned a few posts back that I joined the Art Committee at work, and I made my first big official decision last week! I was tasked with finding a place to hang two rather unique framed art quilts. One is quite large and quite red. One is made of license plates. I was really nervous that I hadn’t picked the “right” spot and that no one would like the work, or worse yet, it would be met with indifference. But as it turns out, the quilts are a huge hit! I was amazed and deeply gratified to see how excited people were about them, and that they actually took the time to stop and engage with the work. It’s fascinating to me how much just those two pieces alone shifted the energy of the spaces they were placed in and generated so much delight. If I decide to make a career transition in late life, I’m going to become an interior decorator and just spend all day making people happy with drapes and pretty hanging things.

--Kristen McHenry


Frank Moraes said...

You made me laugh about the rich recluse. But the good thing about picking a tired idea is that no one can complain that you think you are so clever. I have this problem of writing about junkies, and I always think people will respond, "You think that's clever? That's been done to death!" But what am I gonna do? The only other life I know about is being a poor recluse. But I'll be damned if I find any inspiration in that. You are a better writer than I!

I think the grant thing is a good idea for the reason you mention. Also: getting a grant is usually a process anyway. You might not get this one but maybe you would soon -- or eventually, anyway. But it is curious that someone who's published two books (at least) is only just now considering herself a writer. But I know what you mean. There's a kind of constantly moving finish line: once I publish something, I'll consider myself a real writer; once I publish something in a decent publication, I'll consider myself a real writer; once I get paid for writing, I'll consider myself a real writer; once I can support myself, I'll consider myself a real writer! Writers are such messes. I wonder if Stephen King even thinks he is a real writer.

The art sounds cool. I'm trying to trick myself into leaving my room and going to the fair tomorrow. I love all the practical art there. And so much more. I will no longer go to the fair with anyone because they always drag me away from stuff. People have such short attention spans. Or maybe it's just the people I know.

Kristen McHenry said...

Hi, Frank--yes, I agree about the ever-moving finish line. I don't know why writers are such neurotic, low-confidence people, but there you have it.

I am hoping that my rich recluse story has an original enough angle that people won't shrug it off as a cliche right off the bat. If I could be a rich recluse myself, I sure would be!