Writer's Center Undiscovered Voices Fellowship recipients Rose Fitzpatrick and Marija Stajic will be blogging for First Person Plural through the year. We're glad to post the first entry, by Rose Fitzpatrick.
When I became a published author for the first time last year I felt a sense of giddy relief: I did it! But my joy evaporated when the assistant editor gently asked me to write an autobiographical blurb.
Why? Hadn’t I already expressed everything essential about myself in my personal essay? I loathe writing blurbs. Even the sound of the word “blurb” bothers me: the sluggish gulping of water through a blocked drain. The blurb is the opposite of my preferred form, the personal essay.
A personal essay is a confidence shared with the reader, an imaginary conversation that arises from the inclusion of the author’s subjective experiences, including flaws, self-doubt, and failures. This forges a sense of connection. As a reader of essays, I trust an author who is as flawed and confused as I. As a writer of essays, my flaws and confusion become valuable assets for gaining (and sharing) insight.
The blurb, however, irritates me because it is glossy and promotional in nature. It’s not that I’m modest: I simply don’t yet have many of the kind of accomplishments one includes in blurbs. I’ve made a pig’s ear of my life, but I never worry about this until I read the blurbs of others. Then I become envious and worry that I am running out of time for my own dreams. That’s a worry that destroys creativity faster than anything I know, and I hold it up as proof that the horrible blurb does not shed light on anything, though it can cast a shadow.
Yet here I am, and it appears I have accomplished something new, and must now write a blurb about it. Forgive me.
The Writer’s Center honored me this year with one of the Undiscovered Voices fellowships. It is a generous opportunity for me, but only one example of the kind of outreach that is part of the mission of The Writer’s Center. Like the personal essays I love, the Writer’s Center is about forging connections and building a creative community because that helps us all get closer to our individual goals.
I applied for this fellowship two years ago and was turned down. But since that time I’ve made lasting friendships with instructors and classmates, whose ongoing support and encouragement have enabled me to improve as a writer. Certainly I have accomplished something in which I take pride; but every writer who participates in the community that is The Writer’s Center is part of a much bigger accomplishment.
And so I humbly ask that you join me as I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world: not so much because I’m proud (though I am) or want to brag (because I do) but because the most important thing to celebrate is the way we writers connect with readers – and with each other.
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