One day last month, a writing friend contacted me by email to inform me that there was an affordable writing conference taking place in a couple weeks’ time in the next town over. For only something like $20, I could spend most of my Saturday learning and workshopping in a group that would consist of either fiction writers, screenwriters, poets, or playwrights. Sign me up! Within a week I was confirmed and slotted into the fiction writers group and within a few weeks there I sat, nervous and excited and across the table from aforementioned friend.
The workshop was sponsored by the North Carolina Arts Council as a part of a series (across the state) meant to facilitate art community and cooperation beyond the working artists (by making it open to the public). I thoroughly enjoyed myself and was impressed by the talent in the room. I met some people. (They call that networking.) And I wrote until my hand cramped. That’s right: I was given blocks of time (after teaching and inspiration) to write to a prompt. I used an actual journal and pen (!) and found that all this prompting and journaling really got the juices flowing. Loved it!
When I got home, I found myself inspired to keep writing short format and took some notes. I also decided that I would post some of my short format writing on the website (see MY SHORTS tab) and use some of it to apply for residencies and fellowships. At heart, I am still more of a novelist, but I do sometimes create in shorter pieces. At any rate, I’m all-around inspired, even for the current novels. (Plural, yes.)
So this is how I am taking steps forward amid a life cluttered with to-dos and responsibilities (including being a full-time homeschool educator and homemaker). I am also attending a two-hour write-in on Wednesday nights (which is occasionally just me. That’s okay, because we generally try not to talk and distract each other anyways). It feels good to write a scene every week, but I know that it can’t compare to how much work I can knock out at a residency. (And I keep meeting with my writing group, once a month.) There is a proliferation of write-ins in my urban area which I could be taking advantage of, but I have discovered that choosing my own place and time has made the whole process much more palatable and therefore feasible. Plus, I get to choose my company.
Perhaps my journey will give you a couple ideas. Attend a conference. Go to a write-in (or start one). Join a writing group. Apply for residencies and fellowships. For the first time in years, my countdown-to-fulltime-writing-career has shortened. In three years (which until recently was seven) I will be only months away from being home alone and grappling for footing in a competitive field. I want to be that much closer to success when I get there.