Yesterday, I dragged my sorry ass to the post office, which
was a 13-hour journey uphill through the snow, because lately, I’ve been not the sharpest tack in the box, physically. But I made it there, and I bought
a stamp and an envelope and I assembled my application, and I applied myself to
a Stegner Fellowship, which is where they give you a lot of money and slap you
on the ass and send you off to write masterpieces.

The Stegner is a hell of a long shot; people with prestigious awards can apply
for years and never get it, and other people can apply just the once and only
have ever published something in Highlights
magazine, and be given a very fat check and a pat on the head. It is a fancy
crapshoot, and of course, I have no expectation that I will come even close to
getting on the shortlist, but also I am fantasizing about how I’m going to
spend all the money on shoes. By which I mean, quit my job and dedicate the
next two years to creating the world’s best Choose Your Own Adventure novel

It’s a little bit frightening, this fellowship—I mean, if I win, they really
do expect you to become a working writer, to make your full-time job putting
down words and then becoming extravagantly successful so you don’t embarrass
them, or else they will cut you.

I don’t know if I can do that. I’ve got a good job, and health insurance, and
basic cable and a TiVo. I’ve got sushi and shoes to buy, and I like to take
cabs and drink champagne out of solid gold tumblers and have my entire blood
supply replaced weekly and my kidneys are made out of Swarovski crystals, which
require constant upkeep and I’m scared, all right? I’m scared to be told my only
job is writing, because then my head will explode and I will die of high
expectations, which is a very hard way to go, you know.

I spent most of yesterday being alternately thrilled and terrified by the
prospect, and trying to remind myself, in my more rational moments that it is
extremely unlikely and so maybe I can concentrate some of this energy on, say,
laundry. And today I got a letter in the mail telling me that my thesis, which was accepted as the final requirement in my MFA in writing, is now shelved in the university library, and…well,
I expected things to come to a beautiful full circle where the worry creases on
my forehead were smoothed away and my heart was filled with hope and freedom,
except mostly I’m just pretty happy I never have to think about it ever again.

I’m not so glad, though, because it reminds me that I never kept that promise to myself, which
was as soon as my thesis was accepted, I would start work on the revisions it
so richly deserves, and now that is another thing to worry about, because I am
a skittish thing and I really ought to take up macramé, if I need a vocation so

9 Replies to “expectating”

  1. Just going through the motions of applying for this fellowship? That in and of itself was huge. That means you are giving yourself the right to believe you have the right to be not a writer but A Writer. I think that’s fantastic.

    Look, we all know how well you write. Those of us who have spent our lives with words, be it for personal pleasure or vocation, have already assessed your abilities as pretty freakin’ great. So that’s settled.

    Now you are daring to look ahead, and taking the concrete steps necessary to pursue the thing you’ve mentioned here before, which is finding a way to write for a living.

    Whether or not you get this fellowship, that’s not really the point. You are seriously looking at ways to make your dreams a reality, and that is the very real first big step one has to take before any of those dreams can ever really come to fruition.

    I’m proud of you. Maybe you will re-work your thesis into a masterpiece. Or maybe you’ll write something else entirely new. Whatever you do, I am certain you are not going to spend the rest of your life proofreading other people’s work (I’ve been a proofreader, by the way; it’s a good job and I’m not belittling it) and that someday you’ll be hiring other people to proofread yours. Congratulations on that uphill snowy climb to buy a stamp ;) I think it was a rather symbolic journey. Good luck!

  2. Anon – Thank you, thank you, thank you. I’ve been saying to Anne for a million and one days or more that she is a great writer and she has such great potential. And I am so very proud of her. She is taking the steps to make her dreams come true. To me, I’ve always believed you must follow your dreams. It doesn’t matter what you do in life. It matters that you are happy at what you are doing and accomplishing.

    And, Anne, go for it. Reach for the stars! You deserve it and more.

  3. I’ve been reading your blog for some time and I’ve got to tell you, if you were to publish something, I would be the first in line to buy it. You have a beautiful gift at expressing yourself and pursuing a career as a writer seems like a natural for you.

    Good for you for pursuing your dream!

  4. Yay!!! This is great, and you didn’t even have to give up the health insurance yet! Look at it this way, you already have thousands of readers (at the very least, hundreds!) and you already have a large “body of work”. ;-)
    You already have one novel under your belt(the master’s degree.) And now you have mailed in this application! The momentum is there, Anne…Everything is going in the right direction!!!

  5. And hey, if all else fails this time around, we can all take a Xanax with Sea Hag, and go buy some ugly pants at Old Navy! (Then get back at it-right anon?) LOL

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