Sunday, June 11, 2023

Keeping my hand in ...

Whoo-wee I did not see that coming. You might think I should have 'cos I applied for it. Here is the announcement here. Thanks to the Michael King Writer's Centre, the NZ China Friendship Society, Shanghai Writers' Association and Shanghai People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, I am off to Shanghai in September for eight weeks to work on a new middle grade fiction project. The story is partly set in Shanghai, the setting a catalyst for some big turning points in the plot. I cannot wait to soak up the location, and walk the streets I will be writing about. It's an incredible opportunity and it is still a little surprising that it was given to me. I actually went on a bit of a hot applying jag a few months back. I was feeling pretty bleak about the state of things. I was wondering about slowly taking my hand out of the bucket of water, and just when you are contemplating taking a step back the logical response (of course!) is to apply for things (residencies, funding, etc...). I think the underlying mood was just reaching for some chances to fulfil a couple of long held ambitions. It all felt a bit wild and yet in the fevered moment of applying I realised Shanghai was a perfect part of my project. I guess maybe it felt like that to the selection panel too. I am feeling excited about the story and the groundwork I am laying right now. By the time I am in the plane my main character will be too, travelling to the place that will set her off in a startling new direction.

I applied thinking I would most likely not get it (the classic creative's self preservation approach). But it felt good to apply. It felt important. I was doing something ambitious and gutsy and at the same time practical and purposeful. Applications take effort, corralling information, defining and refining a project, making decisions about what to include and what to leave out. You polish the project and commit yourself to the idea. You imagine yourself taking up the opportunity and then you steel yourself to the likelihood that one of the other applicants will get the nod. But it is no good having goals and then never pursuing them. As much as this business is out of our control and a significant part of our journey subject to the decisions of others, if there are things out there you want to try for, you have to go for it. Because sometimes it might be you. This time it was me, and it is all very thrilling and I cannot wait. And now I'll be keeping my hand in the bucket of water a bit longer.