Trying New Things

I’ve stretched myself out of my comfort zone twice thus far in 2019. Surprisingly, I feel pretty good about this even though it appears neither leap will pan out in ways we might consider successful.

First, I applied to The Creative Nonfiction Writers Fellowship – a ten-part intensive workshop series for ten experienced nonfiction writers. I wasn’t accepted, but I was waitlisted. I’ll discover next week if I get a spot. And, yes, I would be thrilled if that happened, but I am proud of myself for trying – for putting myself out there. Being waitlisted means I am sort of a writer. I guess.

Second, I applied for grant funding through the Soup N’at project.

Soup N’at uses the Sunday Soup model of community fundraising. Artists of any art form may submit a project proposal. A jury reviews those proposals and chooses a few projects to be presented during the Soup N’at dinner. Guests come to enjoy tasty soup from local chefs, the artists present their proposals, and then guests cast ballots for their favorite. The artist with the most votes takes home the night’s proceeds.

My proposal is to flip the narrative of my Q&A format by inviting guest contributors to create a Q&A for me. I’ll be handing the reins over to a group of folx representative of this blog community and taking my place as the interviewee. The purpose isn’t to radically expose me, it is about upping the level of signal boosting from my blog by putting myself in the seat of the interviewee. And examining all the privilege and creativity and labor that goes into something as seemingly benign as asking questions. The questioners will be compensated for their time and energy. I’ll also use the funds to make sure barriers like child care, transportation to access a computer, etc are not interfering with anyone’s opportunity to participate if they desire.

Then we’ll follow up each Q&A with a blog post discussion about asking questions, creating questions, controlling narratives, and examining how we tell our own stories.

So another risk for me – exposing myself as an artist and potentially exposing myself to questions about my craft. I’m loving this idea enough that if I’m not funded by Soup n’at, I may pursue other funding sources.

Soup N’at requires me to give a brief presentation and ask people to vote for me. More radical risk taking for this socially anxious person.

I’m eager to push the boundaries of blogging, both to explore my own life and to create action in the communities I care about. There’s a lot left to say.

In the coming weeks, I plan to conduct Q&A’s with an actor affiliated with PICT Irish and Classic Theater who it turns out grew up in my home neighborhood. I’m also crafting Q&A’s for candidates – Pam Iovino, Bruce Kraus, Deb Gross, and Bobby Wilson so far. New productions will be moving into City Theatre, Pittsburgh Public Theater, PICT, and Off the Wall Productions at Carnegie Stage so more artist Q&A.

I’m continuing my column with the Pittsburgh Current and preparing for a new gig at another local publication (to be named at a later date.)

It is exciting to have so many interesting opportunities ahead of me at the age of 48. When I look back, I sense that the forward momentum of my cumulative experiences and education continues to propel me in new directions. I don’t feel at all like I’m winding down or that my voice is less relevant as I march onward to the unsteady ground of actual midlife.

I would love to do another residency as a blogger artist. There’s so much to learn. I’m always finding new clients who need social media support and each time, I have the opportunity to explore a new industry or field. That’s rewarding as well as helping to finance #AMPLIFY.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m still a person who struggles. I was supposed to spend this weekend at the Keystone Progress Summit, but the realities of being a person with disabilities, including anxiety meant I spent most of today trying to get a medication refilled and untangling layers of complication because of production shortages. So that’s $70 lost as well as opportunities. Plus, the toll of pushing through to get my health needs met will hit me in a day or two.

There’s a lot left to say, but I should probably get myself into bed so I’m in fighting form for whatever comes my way tomorrow.


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