Warning: There's nothing humble about this brag.
I am so damned proud to share that I've been named the 2021 Writers' League of Texas Bess Whitehead Scott Fellow in Creative Writing.
If you'd crawled inside my head at any point in the past two years, you'd have seen me pondering the possibility of pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing. I come from a family of educators. The ache to learn is in my DNA. And, in 2018, as I finished my first creative writing class at Austin Community College, I announced to my sainted mother—my cheerleader—that I’d be writing fiction for the rest of my life. “It’s about time,” she said. “Only took you fifty years.”
A week later, a fat manila envelope arrived in the mail. Inside was a wide-lined composition book filled with block-lettered stories written by my first-grade self—stories about a mysterious Super Spy, his superstitious girlfriend Marilyn, and a mischievous blue jay. Oh, the things our sainted mothers keep.
I announced to my sainted mother—my cheerleader—that I’d be writing fiction for the rest of my life. “It’s about time,” she said. “Only took you fifty years.”
It may have taken fifty years to circle back to fiction, but the intervening decades were always informed by the transformative power of words. As a young actor in New York City, scripts taught me how character is revealed through dialogue and action. I began to appreciate pacing, and I learned the difference between story and plot. As a songwriter in Austin, I discovered the power of metaphor, economy, and rhythm in writing.
If it were not remarkably irresponsible to take on educational debt at age 60, I would absolutely pursue an M.F.A.—not for those three capitalized letters, but to find a home where my writing could mature. An M.F.A. doesn't just build craft, it builds habits, and it builds community. I need all three.
So imagine for one minute how thrilled I was last fall when the Writers' League of Texas announced open applications for their first Fellowships. With twelve months of curated classes and mentorship for a small cohort of dedicated emerging writers, the Fellowship seemed thoroughly analogous to an M.F.A. program--but without the debt. And without having to teach Freshman Comp classes.
The Writers' League has officially announced its 2021 cohort of Fellows, and I'm so proud to be among them. In all honesty, the one thing I want most for the year is to honor this honor. I can't wait for classes. I can't wait to meet with my fellow Fellows. I can't wait to build new habits.
And I can't wait to have a solid draft of this novel I've started by year's end.