The Otherwise Fellowship Award and Clarion West

I’ve always written, but I haven’t always wanted to be a writer. That may seem like a weird statement to some, but standing where I am now, looking back on where I’ve been, there is a clear distinction between writing and being a writer. It’s harsh and hard to hear, but one of the truest things when it comes to this whole crazy writing life is that you have to do more than write to be a writer.

Call me pretentious or a gate keeper or whatever else you want, but talk with any other professional or examine their work habits. So much more goes into the work than just sitting at a keyboard and pounding out words (I say as I’m doing that exact thing). It takes thought, planning, research, and something akin to magic called discipline. This all mixed together, day after day, creates a writer and a rich writing life.

I say all this because I’ve been thinking a lot about where I am in my career and all the accomplishments I’ve achieved in the past couple of years. Some things I didn’t expect, but a lot of it, I sorta planned or aimed at. When I made the conscious choice and decision to be a writer, I looked at what opportunities that were out there for writers who wanted to do what I planned on doing and studied them to better prepare myself for the future I wanted.

Recently, I was put on the honors list for the Otherwise Fellowship Award, formerly known as the James Tiptree Jr Fellowship Award. This is one of those things that when I discovered it early on in my career (I say five years into my career) I wanted to apply for it. At the time I discovered it, I knew I wasn’t in the right place in my craft to apply for it. There was and still is so much I didn’t know, but more importantly I wasn’t thinking of my writing in the way that the award requires. I wasn’t challenging myself or the genre to produce stories that asked questions that probed deeper into aspects of life that are sometimes hard and scary.

Getting this honor, gives me so much faith and hope in my career that I know it is time to begin applying to Clarion West, another program that I found early on and wanted to apply to but knew that I didn’t have the chops to even begin to deeply consider it, but for five years, I’ve dreamed of going and learning from some of my heroes how to really put the grit to the metal and produce some shocking and dare I say original stories.

I’ve been working on my application packet for the past two months. On Thursday, I sent off my materials, and now I wait for their decision. Maybe I’ll get in or maybe this is just the first year in a long tradition of applying to Clarion West. Either way, I’m going to keep going, keep writing, and keep pushing myself to do things in my writing that scare and shock me.

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