Friday, March 11, 2011

What We Are

Spring in Nacogdoches makes rejection go down easy.

I finally received my official rejection from the Iowa Writer's Workshop yesterday. I assumed I wouldn't get in because seriously - it's Iowa. I applied anyway because you just never know and seriously - it's Iowa! According to the form letter that I found in my mailbox, they had 1,115 fiction applications for 25 spots this year. I'm not really disappointed. Truthfully, I don't want to move to Iowa City and I'm crossing my fingers for a smaller, more intimate program. I've heard some promising things from other schools, but nothing concrete just yet. When I know for sure, so will you!

The other day I was thinking about the words we use to describe ourselves and how we are identified. I write. I publish. Occasionally, I am accepted to and waitlisted at competitive MFA programs. And yet I have a hard time calling myself a Writer with a capital W. To me, a Writer is someone who sits in a room, empty except for a large desk, a cup of coffee and a computer upon which she taps out her brilliance one keystroke at a time. A Writer is not, for example, a person who works a full time job that has nothing to do with writing, who struggles to find time to sit at her computer, which is in a messy and marginally organized room, and works on her craft for fifteen minutes here, thirty minutes there, while a dog pushes his nose into her lap and the laundry buzzes to let her know the clothes are dry.

It's the same thing with running. I run three or four times a week since I started three years ago. I train for races and have finished two marathons. But I still feel weird calling myself a Runner with a capital R. To me, a Runner is someone who moves effortlessly through their workouts, who is long and lean and fast, who runs because it's natural and easy and enjoyable. Running is not easy for me. I love it, but I've worked hard to make it this far. Even now, I still have a lot of bad runs along with the good ones.

I run, but I'm not a Runner. I write, but I'm not a Writer. Or am I? According to Annie Dillard, "How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives." If this is true, then I guess I'm a lot of things. A Dog Walker, a Research Development Specialist, a Vegetarian, an Inhabitant of a Incorrigibly Messy Home, a Blogger, a Bookworm, a Daughter, a Sister, a Girlfriend, a Yogi-in-Training, a Dreamer, an Optimist.

A Runner. A Writer.

I like the sound of that.

What are you?

30 comments:

  1. Thinker, Therapist, Explorer, Blogger, Writer, Friend, Crafter, Creator, Dancer.
    Something perfect will work out for you, I'm betting on it :)
    Cheers!

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  2. wow--that's a competitive program! i'm sorry to hear you didn't get in!

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  3. I love Annie Dillard!

    I definitely struggle with the title of "Runner" since there are other who run more frequently, faster, and further than I do. I think though that we tend to compare up rather than down when it comes to these things. I am more a runner than the millions who don't run ever. I've run more races than most Americans and will go on to run a marathon, something that most people never do. If you, who has run two marathons and many more racers, isn't a runner, who is? And when do you become one?

    Same with writing...when does one become a writer? When you're accepted to an MFA program? When you graduate? Sometime before entering the program, as a prerequisite for acceptance?

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  4. Thank you Meri! I appreciate your optimism. :)

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  5. They other programs I applied to are excellent, but not quite as competitive. Admission is so subjective that you can't take rejection too personally - at least where MFA programs are concerned!

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  6. I guess it's clear that I AM a runner and a writer. And sometimes I do feel that way. I guess I just want to feel that way all the time, and I guess when my confidence is down, or I'm in a bad mood, or I'm upset with myself, I end up taking myself out of seeing my own accomplishments. I need to be more proud of who I am and what I've done. There is more than one way to be something!

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  7. Oh, I love this post. (And it's making me feel a bit better about getting a rejection today for a tenure track job that I wanted.)

    I am: a scholar, a feminist, a blogger, a runner, a wife, a friend, a teacher, a writer, a nerd, a daughter, a sister, an animal lover.

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  8. How could I forget Feminist? Add that to my list!

    I'm sorry about your rejection, LHdM. The right job is out there some where!

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  9. artist. waitress. sister. daughter. girlfriend. intelligent. dancer. reader of books and blogs..... :D

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  10. Oh, I'm so sorry to hear about Iowa! I know it was a long shot, but still. You put yourself out there, and they said no. That's tough.

    But on the bright side, I love this post. LOVE! I was thinking about the same idea, particularly along the lines of what we name our blogs. Neither of my blogs has anything about science, biology, or fruit flies in the title, and yet I spend the majority of my waking hours thinking about those things.

    What am I? I am a bike rider, a laugher, a thinker, a wearer of pink clothes, a voracious reader, a writer, a runner, a cook and sometimes baker, an eater of cookie dough, and an embracer of spontaneous fun. And somewhere in there, I hope I am a good person :-)

    Happy weekend, Chrissy! You turned lemons into lemonade with this post.

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  11. I'm a writer, at least according to where I get my money every month, and I spend a lot of the time pounding away at my laptop in the living room while my son Sage and our dog run circles around me and do other distracting things. I've found there is definitely no set definition or way of life. :-)

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  12. I know what you mean. I don't call myself anything with a capital letter. It just seems like I'm not enough of that thing to consider myself that.

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  13. i know what you mean! i struggle with thinking of myself as a counselor, even though that's what i do for a living. same feelings on yours related to being a writer & a runner. i love them both, but am i good enough to think of myself that way?

    i do know i am a girlfriend, a daughter, an aunt. vegetarian, blood donor, a reader, a dog lover, a volunteer. & occasionally... the black sheep. & that all makes me smile. :D

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  14. I never call myself a Poet, but I do call myself Awesome. :) I hope things turn more concrete soon for a certain program!!

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  15. I used to think I couldn't call myself a runner because I take walking breaks here and there. Now I believe that you can call yourself anything as long as you enjoy it.

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  16. I call myself a Mama with a capital M. It's definitely how I spend my days and I absolutely love the sound of it.

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  17. i love this post! i guess i'm a: Student, Researcher, Friend, Fiance, Sister, Cook, Blogger, Maid, Organizer (haha, that made me laugh!). i love thinking about all of my different "hats"!

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  18. You are a runner!
    I'm a lot of the same things you are, actually. (Unfortunately including inhabitant of a messy home)

    Wife, Vegetarian, Dog Mom, Runner, Aunt, Alumnus, Hippie, Wine Drinker

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  19. Oh, yeah. Feminist is a good one!

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  20. Hmmm...I have thought about this too lately. I struggle with saying 'I'm an artist', because even though I paint (and draw etc), I haven't actually exhibited or sold anything yet. So I guess I'm an artist in waiting...or an artist wannabe! I'm also an administrator (well, I have to pay my bills), a liberal feminist, a friend, a girlfriend/partner, a sister, a reader of books, an optimist but a worrier (not incompatible I might add!), (infrequent) blogger, a foodie (in the sense that I love to cook and eat), wine drinker, tea drinker.

    Good luck with the applications! You ARE a writer. Wish I could read one of your stories...

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  21. If you run, you are a runner. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far. It doesn’t matter if today is your first day or if you’ve been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run. -John Bingham, running writer and speaker

    I think you can capitalize the "R" in "runner" from this quote. I don't think John would mind. But then again, I'm not a Writer. :)

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  22. Thanks Rose-Anne! I'd been thinking of the self-definition thing for a while, so the day of a rejection seemed a good way to lead into it. Especially since I joked with some writing friends that a rejection from Iowa is a rite of passage. I'm finally a real Writer! ;)

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  23. That is an excellent point, and a great example. There is no "traditional" writer - we make words when, where and how we can. All that matters is that we write!

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  24. Blood donor! That's a great one.
    I think after reading all these great comments, I'm willing to think of myself as a Writer and a Runner. If you are what you love, then I'm definitely those things.

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  25. I like the way you think! I enjoy running most of the time, but I definitely feel a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment at the end of a long run. I feel alive, and that's worth something!

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  26. And you're so good at it! Your babies are the sweetest. :)

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  27. Wine drinker. I left that one off my list! :)

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  28. If I am a Writer, then you are an Artist. I find it easier to tell people that they are what they are then to tell myself.

    I have a few things that can be read under the "Write" tab at the top of my blog. I will be adding a new publication later today, as soon as it's live on the web.

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  29. If John Bingham says it, then it must be true! I've decided that I'm a Runner for sure. Running is just a part of my life now - I can't go more than a few days without my fix. And that's a good feeling. :)

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