Insecure Writer’s Support Group: My biggest Odyssey yet

May 1, 2013

Hey everybody! Fresh off the craziness of the A-Z challenge, Alex Cavanaugh hits us with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. IWSG is an opportunity for blogging writers to share our frustrations and fears, and also to encourage fellow writers with stories about how we rose above them and triumphed.

I guess the story I have to tell this month is one of triumphing over my insecurities and finding a new batch of fears and nerves waiting for me. Back in February, I sent in applications for four different writing workshops, all across the USA. I’d slaved over the writing samples since late November of last year, I crossed my fingers and looked for falling stars to wish on. Clarion UCSD and Clarion West sent their regrets. Kij Johnson sent me a nice note saying that she was sorry she couldn’t take me for her two-week noveling workshop, as she had more great applicants this year than ever before.

For a month and a half, as I racked up my NaNoEdMo hours and dived into Camp Nanowrimo, there was nothing, and then: an email from the Odyssey workshop!

Was it another rejection? Was it great news? Was it an induction into the twilight world of the waiting list? (I’ve actually been on the Odyssey waiting list before, and got waited out.)

That first email was none of the above; it was an appeal for me to encourage one of my character references to start referencing! But I took it as a good sign, and in a few days more the character reference was sorted out, and I got the good-news email! I’ll be driving off to New Hampshire this summer.

So, I’m really excited about this, but also just a little insecure about if I’ll be able to hack it at Odyssey. An online friend of mine, Eileen from Speak Coffee to Me, went to Odyssey a few years back, and has told me that it was a great experience, but also very stressful, six weeks of nearly non-stop work on your writing, and that she had a huge ‘creative crash’ after the workshop was done. A lot of other testimonials I’ve found online back that up. The student conduct guidelines I had sign and mail in warn that the expected workload averages to 12 hours a day, seven days a week, and that those with health problems might do better not to commit to the Odyssey. The program director’s critiques are legendary for being devastating and constructive at the same time. Drop-outs due to excessive stress and pressure are not unknown. I’ll need to keep up some kinduv crazy pace of writing new stuff and revisions while I’m there.

Maybe I should be more worried about the fact that I’m not too worried. 😉 It won’t all be fun, but this is a great opportunity that I’ve been pushing hard to earn, and I’m convinced that if I give it 100%, I’ll make it through okay and be a much better writer once I’m finished with the workshop and recovered from the crash.

Another thing that I’m only a little insecure about is the trip there. I think I like the idea of driving all the way from Hamilton to Manchester, New Hampshire, though I’ve never done nearly as long a road trip by myself before. The price of driving in one day (counting the New York interstate tolls,) compares fairly well with airline ticket prices, and I’ll be able to pack more in the car than I’d be able to take on a plane. After all, I don’t think I’ve been away from home for six weeks since I was at university.

Insecurity and Support

September 7, 2011

Starting my rounds for the Campaign, I happened upon something interesting just in time to join in – Alex Cavanaugh is now running The Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

I wouldn’t say that I’m a terribly insecure writer, but I’m not that secure in my success either, and there’s a lot of stuff that’s been going on in my creative life the last little while to make me more uncertain of things that I’d trusted in before. More than that, though, I’ve been a big believer, for months, in the value of writers supporting other writers, and it’s really hard to get powerful support if you’re not in a space where it’s safe to let your insecurities out.

So, I guess that’s what I should be doing here. I feel like going to Kansas this summer, for all that I learned, was a big one-two punch to my self-confidence and showed everybody there that I don’t really know how to put a short story together. And then there was the Storywonk class, in which I dissected one of my favorite novella manuscripts and realized that it had too little conflict running through its veins, and a somewhat misshapen skeleton.

But I do know that none of this is a reason to stop trying, to stop engaging with my stories. I’ve resolved to go back to the short story side for September, to keep working on editing all the shorts in my portfolio that I don’t feel completely hopeless on, and to kick ass critiquing stories for other people, on, in the Kansas online alumni circle and for the Toronto convention writers triangle.

And I will always remember, if not the exact words, the sense of the message at the bottom of the congratulatory certificate that my local Hamilton ML’s, Gale and Rhonda, gave me at the National Novel Writing Month TGIO party last winter:

“We who are about to write, salute you.
We who have written, envy you.
We who will write, will support you in all your writing endeavours.”

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