~ Tavis Smiley
Big Momma Turkey made several appearances yesterday, accompanied by her growing-to-teenhood chicks—three strong, and down from the original eight. Survival of the fittest. I don’t know where she’s been hiding all of them, but now that they can fly, they’re making the rounds and thumbing their beaks at the dogs. I just hope she stays on this side of the road during hunting season. Our neighbors own guns and like to point them at feathers.
Barbara Vey guestblogged the other day at The Writing Playground, and even though I know the story of how she got her gig at Publisher’s Weekly, I never get tired of hearing it, because she is just so inspirational and lovely.
This blogger questions why writers don’t get an education more like artists do: On several occasions, I�ve stumbled into an argument over whether or how writing is art. My art school friends, often on the other side of the argument, are focused on the creation of objects, more than on the creation itself. As a result, they argue that writing, although it is an artistic process “somehow”, it is not art because it does not create objects.
Well, the blogger disagrees with that—as do I—but as for getting a focused education on how to write…that just feels odd to me. Maybe because the few writing classes I ever took asked us to do what we would have done anyway outside of school—which was, read and write. With the added torture/torture/torture of critquing each other. Which, I admit, is not always bad (depending on the circumstances). Clarion was great for that. High school…not so much. Talk about a nightmare.
You can learn to be a better writer. That’s what you do every time you put pen to paper or read a book. But I’m not convinced it’s something you pick up in a classroom. True, a teacher can show you inconsistencies, act as proof-reader and reveal your weaknesses, but art is not the same as math or science, or legal theory. There’s an instinct to it, a knack, and the only thing that makes you better is practice, unwavering perseverance, and the permission you give yourself to delve deep, to be raw.
But, having said that, the best (formal) education I ever received in writing came from my college professor, Peter Fritzell, who taught non-fiction essay composition and American Literature. He opened my eyes to the importance of self-consciousness in the written word, of being aware, thoughtful, making everything count. And I can’t tell you how he did it – only that it was, and still is, his gift. As, too, was the importance of humility, the danger of thinking I am a great writer. Because even if you are great, you can still be better. Always, better.
It’s rare, though, to find good teachers like that. More often you get the opposite, and when that happens, beware.
(By the way, I haven’t forgotten those questions I promised to answer, some time back…will get to them soon)
Little Owl Mentoring Program
The Little Owl Mentoring Program connects young adult writers (13-22) with experienced adult writers who mentor young people in some aspect of writing for a set period of time.
WOMEN PLAYWRIGHTS’ INITIATIVE (WPI)
NO ENTRY FEE
Call for scripts August 1 – October 1, 2007. Open to women playwrights in nine states of the Southeast: AL, FL, GA, KY, MS, NC, SC, TN, VA. The winning submission(s) will tentatively be presented as a part of the 2008 Orlando International Fringe Festival. The Festival format is geared toward an established audience that expects a high caliber of writing and performance. Award/Stipend: The winning entry(ies) will tentatively receive a staged production at the 17th Annual Orlando International Fringe Festival, in a small professional theater setting. The winning playwright(s) is expected to be in Orlando for the production, be willing to consider script development work with the director, and will receive a stipend to assist in travel and other expenses. Julia Gagne, 407-273-9723, email@example.com
INDIANA REVIEW FICTION PRIZE
ENTRY FEE: $15 Includes a one-year subscription All entries considered for publication. All entries considered anonymously. Send only one story per entry, 35 double-spaced pages maximum, 12 pt. font.
TROUBADOUR POETRY PRIZE
Coffee-House Poetry, PO Box 16210, LONDON, W4 1ZP
E-mail – CoffPoetry@aol.com
ENTRY FEE – �5/�7 per poem if less than 4 poems submitted, or �4/�5 per poem if 4 or more poems submitted, payable by cheque or money order (Sterling or Euro only). Deadline September 30, 2007. Accepted by snail mail or e-mail. Poems must each be typed on one side of A4 white paper showing title & poem only; do not show author�s name or any other identifying marks on submitted poems; include a separate page showing Name, Address, Phone, E-Mail (opt), Titles and either number of Poems @ �5/�7 OR No. of Poems @ �4/�5. 1st prize �1,000, 2nd �500, 3rd �250 plus 20 commendations @ �20 each. A coffee-house poetry reading for all prizewinning and commended poets with Helen Dunmore and David Constantine on December 3, 2007.
TEACHERS & WRITERS COLLABORATIVE FELLOWSHIPS
Awarded for 2007�2008 to two early-career writers. The T&W Fellowship period is October 1, 2007, to May 31, 2008. During that time, Fellows will receive a $10,000 stipend, office space and resources (i.e., computer, supplies) at T&W, pairing with an experienced mentor from the world of publishing, literary arts, theater, or other field related to the Fellow�s work, the opportunity to participate in all aspects of T&W�s work, including planning events for T&W�s 2020 Visions reading series and reading their own work at T&W. Each Fellow will develop an individual plan for the fellowship period, specifying goals related to the Fellow�s own writing as well as the areas of T&W�s work that are of greatest interest. Those areas include:
Teaching imaginative writing in schools or community sites; Publishing Teachers & Writers, a quarterly magazine about the teaching of writing; Developing Web-based resources for educators, writers, and students; Creating publications for T&W�s current catalog of books on the teaching of writing.
Fellows will be expected to spend a minimum of 15 hours per week at T&W during regular business hours (8 AM-6 PM, Monday-Friday), in addition to participating in evening events such as 2020 Visions readings. Applicants for T&W Fellowships must:
Be age 30 or younger at the beginning of the fellowship period; Live in New York City or be able to plan an extended stay in the area (T&W cannot assist with finding housing for individuals who do not currently live in New York.); Demonstrate a commitment to community involvement; Show exceptional artistic promise and a
commitment to a writing career; Demonstrate financial need.
Deadline August 17, 2007.
TENNESSEE TOURING ARTS PROGRAM
Brings Tennessee artists to communities across the state by providing financial assistance to the sponsors or
presenters. $350 to $4,000.
PALM BEACH COUNTY RESIDENCIES
The Artist-in-Residency grant offered by the Palm Beach County Cultural Council provides funding for community-based artist-in-residency programs that emphasize long-term, in-depth interaction between professional artists and an identified group of participants. The program�s mission is to forge partnerships between artists and host non-profit cultural organizations to benefit residents of Palm Beach County. Up to $30,000 for a three- to nine-month residency program in Palm Beach County. Submission deadline is August 6, 2007.