Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Adventures in Rejection: Residencies and Conferences

Sometimes I forget that I live in a sort of rarefied world. 

It's not every field that requires so much of its participants. We, as writers, spend so much of our time--free time, mind you, because for most of us, this is a passion and not a sustainable career--searching for publication opportunities, sending out submissions, and entering contests in order to have our work recognized. And a lucky few of us are also able to dream of going to one residency/conference or other.

You've heard of some of the big ones, no doubt: Yaddo, Bread Loaf, Squaw Valley. There are many other options available. If you, like me, are a graduate of a low-residency MFA program, you have probably experienced pangs of withdrawal since you earned your degree. Nothing rocks your world like having eight or so days of concentrated, focused workshops or seminars and, even better, time to sit your ass down and write. And you want to recapture some of that magic, so you decide to take a break from submitting individual pieces and try to get yourself a space at a selective conference, perhaps even one of those listed above.

And then someone rejects you. 

But this rejection stings worse than hearing someone doesn't want to publish your poem/story/essay, doesn't it? Of course it does. Because all you desire in this world is to have some writer time. 

I've been there, friends. It hurts, knowing that you'll be stuck in the office or the house worrying about the drudgery of paperwork, dishes, what have you--the sort of everyday tasks that pull you away from your words. Or maybe you're upset because you know there are too many distractions around you, and that's why you have such trouble putting pen to paper. For me, it's a combination of those things. 

If you're able, take a week off from work, get yourself a hotel room, and host your own private residency. I'm not in this position, unfortunately, but there are days--especially in the summer--when I feel freer to ignore things I consider menial or outside the scope of what I truly want to do: write.

This is how I make it work for myself. Oh, and the wonderful extended weekend I was able to spend at the Weymouth Center in North Carolina in June. More on that later, though, in a non-rejection-themed post!


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