Panelists Weigh In: Applying for an OAC Grant, Part 2

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Show Notes

As past panelists for the Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Awards, Traci Brimhall, Melissa Faliveno, and Tanya Rey share what it was like to read and judge applications. They discuss what made an application stand out, how writers can craft the narrative and philosophy statements to good effect, the importance of submitting polished work, the inherent subjectivity of the process, persistence in the face of rejection, and more.

About the Panelists:

Traci Brimhall’s fifth poetry collection, Love Prodigal, will be published by Copper Canyon Press in 2024. She is also the author of Come the Slumberless to the Land of Nod (Copper Canyon Press, 2020); Saudade (Copper Canyon Press, 2017); Our Lady of the Ruins (W.W. Norton, 2012), selected by Carolyn Forché for the 2011 Barnard Women Poets Prize; and Rookery (Southern Illinois University Press, 2010). Her children’s book, Sophia & The Boy Who Fell, was published by SeedStar Books in March 2017.

Melissa Faliveno is the author of the debut essay collection Tomboyland, named a Best Book of 2020 by NPR, New York Public Library, Oprah Magazine, and Electric Literature and recipient of a 2021 Award for Outstanding Literary Achievement from the Wisconsin Library Association. Her writing has appeared in Esquire, Paris Review, Bitch, Literary Hub, Ms Magazine, Brooklyn Rail, Prairie Schooner, and in the anthology Sex and The Single Woman (Harper Perennial, 2022).

Tanya Rey is a queer Cuban-American writer whose work has appeared in Guernica, Granta, The Sun, Roads & Kingdoms, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, The Georgia Review, and Catapult, among othersShe holds an MFA from New York University and has received fellowships from The Georgia Review, Rona Jaffe Foundation, San Francisco Writers Grotto, MacDowell, Hedgebrook, UCross, Blue Mountain Center, I-Park, and others. Rey has worked as managing editor for One Story and fiction editor for Epiphany and has taught creative writing at New York University and Writing Pad in San Francisco.



Traci Brimhall (00:00):
I often say when I'm talking to my students about submitting their work, you know, maybe they don't go with me cause they need a six-foot blonde and I'm a five-two brunette and there's nothing I can do about that.

Laura Maylene Walter (00:12):
Welcome to part two of our special Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Awards application series. I'm Laura Maylene Walter, the Ohio Center for the Book Fellow and author of the novel BODY OF STARS. If you haven't already listened to part one, be sure to check that out to receive some application tips from Chaz O'Neil of OAC. But now we're excited to turn to three past panelists and judges of these grants. Traci Brimhall is a poet and the author of COME THE SLUMBERLESS TO THE LAND OF NOD, SAUDADE, OUR LADY OF THE RUINS, and ROOKERY. Her fifth Poetry Collection, LOVE, PRODIGAL is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press in 2024. In nonfiction, Melissa Faliveno is the author of the debut essay collection, TOMBOYLAND named aa Best book of 2020 by NPR, New York Public Library, Oprah Magazine, and Electric Literature and recipient of a 2021 Award for Outstanding Literary Achievement from the Wisconsin Library Association. And in fiction, Tanya Rey's writing has appeared in Granta, Guernica, the Sun, the Georgia Review and elsewhere and has received fellowships from the Rona Jaffe Foundation, the Georgia Review, San Francisco Writers Grotto, McDowell, Hedgebrook, UCross and many others.

Laura Maylene Walter (01:26):
So first thanks to all three of you for being here. We appreciate it. And a quick caveat for our listeners, these are past judges so they will not be judging the current round of applications. I just want to make that clear. And any judge or panelist on a grant like this can't really say anything definitive about what a writer can do precisely to win a grant. It's always an inherently subjective process, but I think what they can do is offer their perspective on their experience judging the OAC grants and provide some tips and kind of shed some light on this process that often feels mysterious for writers. So with that said, welcome to all three of you. Traci, maybe we'll start with you. Let us know your general experiences with OAC, how many applications you got, what was it like for you judging a grant like this?

Traci Brimhall (02:13):
Well, I have to say I'm reviewing for another state this year as well. The experience is somewhat similar, but I've reviewed for other states where it's wildly different. So just to say too, every arts organization has to come up with their own rules, their own assessment rubrics, and it's all going to look totally different. So even if somebody has lived in another state or even gotten to review in another state, the experience on the backend entirely varies by estates arts organizations and it's really hard to find things that universally apply. It was over a year ago that I read all of it. So I don't remember with great specificity, tons of information, including how many I read. I just remember it was an exhausting amount. There's absolutely no way to appropriately compensate that everyone who decides to serve as a judge is absolutely gifting their time in order to do this kind of work.

Traci Brimhall (03:03):
But that's also what's really cool. I love the kind of work where I get to be a part of giving somebody else really good news. I've been lucky enough that other people have done this type of assessment for other types of fellowships, grants and other things where I got to be on the receiving end and I'm very happy to pay it forward and spend that kind of time and energy. But just to say it does all get read, it all gets poured over, it's all exhausting. But it's all exciting work, even if it's a lot of labor because it is great to be on the other end where you know you're contributing to making good news happen for someone or a group of people.

Laura Maylene Walter (03:41):
Right. Thank you. Yeah, those are all really good points. The fact that it's an exhausting amount of application seems to be true for anything in the writing world that you apply for. And I love that you pointed out that it's, it's almost an act of service to be a judge in a situation like this, even if you're being compensated with something, the amount of work. And I think that's a good thing for writers to keep in mind that in general the people who are judging your work are people who care about literature and care about writers and want to do the best by everyone. And they're in fact care about it so much that they're giving up their precious energy and time. And I think that's really valid. Melissa, let's turn to you.

Melissa Faliveno (04:18):
Yeah, I was looking back this morning just as a refresher and it was like December 21 I think that I was having these conversations last. And I also can't remember how many I read, but it was a lot.

Laura Maylene Walter (04:32):

Melissa Faliveno (04:33):
And I, for better or worse read everything that comes my way as a teacher, as a panelist, as a friend, as an editor very, very closely and carefully. And it ends up taking, you know, like an inordinate amount of my time. But I'm really happy to do that work and it, it was such an honor to be asked to be on this panel. I was sort of newly to Ohio at the time and you know, just teaching and working in Ohio and having moved, it felt like I was able to be part of the community in some way. And similarly just to be able to select people's work and be a part of that good news feels really good. And I had never really been on the judging end of this kind of grant before. So it was a great experience and taught me a lot about subjectivity and just the process involved.

Laura Maylene Walter (05:29):
Yeah, and I think we'll definitely get into that in a few minutes about that subjectivity and what it can teach you in your own work being a part of something like this. But Tanya, let's turn to you.

Tanya Rey (05:39):
Yeah, it's been over a year. I think I did November of 2021 was when I judged, so also been a while for me. But I looked back and I, I think there were maybe like 60 manuscripts that I read, I read for fiction and I think there were like, there was like a page limit of 30 pages per manuscript, so it was pretty time intensive. I also read things very carefully, particularly with this grant I knew that we were going to be having conversations that applicants could listen to. So I really wanted to honor that and be as thorough as possible with my feedback and with the conversations that I was in with other panelists. It was fun and it was really rewarding. I too felt like even if you're getting compensated for something like this, it's never like, it's cents on the hour

Laura Maylene Walter (06:26):
<laugh> Yeah, yeah. You don't want to do that breakdown <laugh> Yeah.

Tanya Rey (06:31):
Yeah. So it's really not about the money, you know, it's really about, like Traci said, just like giving back and and having been fortunate enough to be on the receiving end of different fellowships or even just you know, getting published in a literary magazine, it's a similar process if you're just kind of like throwing your work out there into a black hole and you're like what happens to it afterwards? And so it's really nice to be on the other side of it and to be a part of that good news that some writers are getting, even if it's not good news, just to be a part of the feedback that the writers are getting that's valuable in it of itself.

Laura Maylene Walter (07:06):
Yes. And I think the year you all judged was the first year OAC put everything online, put the judging online before writers would have to drive to Columbus and watch in person. So that improved access I think and also allowed, you know, anyone to be able to tune in. Well let's talk a bit about how you each worked with your own panelists. So the three of you weren't on a panel together, you each represent a different genre. So like Traci worked with other poets. Can you talk about what that process was like? How did you interact with your fellow panelists? How did you make decisions together? Was it more separate? Shed some light on that for our writers listening today.

Traci Brimhall (07:46):
I mean we didn't know each other. It's not like we had practice having these conversations. There was a routine where it sort of rotates who talks first so that you aren't always on the spot for being the one to kick off a conversation. And so that's pretty helpful that one person doesn't feel more responsible. And I sort of felt like it was sort of like the original American idol where there was definitely like a Paula who was higher scores <laugh> and there was Simon who was the critical person.

Traci Brimhall (08:13):
And I also thought it was a good balance of like we came from different regions in the US, we came from different aesthetics and there would still be people that we were all like give this person a grant. You know like awesome. And other times where we would have like different scores we could adjust based on our conversation but you know that we were sharing our scores and talking through how things worked. But in general one of us was higher, one of us was lower one time I did have to, I think it was only once, maybe twice I recognized work. And so I would excuse myself from that conversation so as not to end up being biased in any way or shaping the conversation because I could recognize that I knew somebody. I respected the heck out of these people. They like had great things to say, great insights. It was like really fun to get to have a lot of other judging is very solo. And so it was really, I liked the online thing. We could see each other, we could talk and I liked getting to assess in this way cause a lot of times I'm working solo whether it's as an editor or a contest judge or whatever. So I kind of liked the process of getting to confer with other people on their thoughts on poetry.

Melissa Faliveno (09:17):
Yeah, I had a very similar experience. I really loved and appreciated the collaborative process as someone who also, you know, as an editor and obviously as a writer <laugh> as you know, siloed all the time. Being able to make those decisions as a committee was really fun. And I found it really interesting. You know, I also didn't know any of the other panelists. I was sort of familiar with one of their work I think. But we tended to have pretty similar, you know, kind of balanced out and there were only a few applications that I can recall that differed kind of wildly and we made our sort of cases for them and I found that sometimes I would go into a situation feeling kind of strongly about something but I tried to go in really open-minded. And so in a couple instances I felt like, you know, I really heard what my panelists were saying and it kind of changed my mind a little bit or it made me feel more certain about my own evaluation or conviction. But I was struck that, you know, there wasn't a huge variety of opinion. You know we all kind of landed in very similar places but that open-mindedness was fun and that collaborative process was great.

Tanya Rey (10:32):
Yeah, I felt similarly excited about collaborating and being able to speak with my colleagues about you know, this work that we'd all read because as you're reading the manuscripts it's like weeks of just you and the pages and you know, you're just kind of like wondering you know, if people are going to be reading it the same way or not. And in my case I also really appreciated that the panelists, they're not all Ohio writers or panelists, which I think is actually valuable. Like I have really no connection to Ohio but I think it's good to have some people from outside, you know, so it's not like such an insular process. So that was interesting. That was something that kind of surprised me cause at first I thought well this should be Ohio writers judging Ohio writers. But then I realized that there was value to having people from outside being on those conversations.

Tanya Rey (11:20):
And I think that overall mostly the panelists we kind of saw eye to eye. There was some healthy debate, I just vaguely remember like there were like a few pieces where I might've liked them and my panelists might not have or vice versa. And I think there was even one that we did award a grant and like I didn't necessarily connect with it but I think we all understood that the writer was doing something interesting. And so even though it is a subjective process, I think that you know, as panelists we all could recognize certain things. You know, if some work had like a spark of something in it, even if it wasn't necessarily like our cup of tea, it was good to see agreement on that at least.

Laura Maylene Walter (12:01):
Yeah, I think that's really important just like editing a literary journal where you don't want everything just to reflect one person's or panel's specific taste, right? Because that is so subjective and yeah, I think it's great that OAC does use a lot of panelists from outside of Ohio just to cut down on how many of the panelists might know the writers submitting, you know, it makes it feel a bit more fair and impartial. Well, I know everyone would love to hear your thoughts on what made an application stand out to you. And I know you'll have to talk really generally both because it's been a while so you don't remember in detail and just not to specifically call out any one piece, but what was it about the applications that you ended up giving grants to you? What did you see in those that stood out to you

Traci Brimhall (12:46):
When the artist statement really clearly matched the poems well and especially cause poems can range so much especially, right? You can put together such a diverse batch to represent a range of your voice or also it could be more specific, but that ability to curate a set of poems that are all quite strong but also that really matched what the artist statement is was a big piece. The artist statements also, we actually talked quite a bit about them. It wasn't just work, it was how the artist statement spoke to that and what the goals of the artist statement were. And also just making it unique. There was actually a few themes that kept appearing a lot and when there's something that's appearing a lot like a similar type of work or similar type of project, you do end up comparing them because they both said they're like eco-poetic work or you know, and so you end up comparing things that are similar. So the more distinct the project is, that helps it stand out and that also helps avoid the comparing the other projects that are quite similar to yours. I've read some really stunning artist statements. I learned a lot about the artist statement while reading. And again, one way poetry is unique because you can select different poems. Figuring out what's the right package that demonstrates range and strength but also really ties nicely to your artist statement was pretty key.

Laura Maylene Walter (14:04):
Anyone on the prose side want to jump in with what made an application stand out?

Melissa Faliveno (14:08):
For me, I was reading essays or memoir, creative nonfiction. And I was definitely struck by anything that was doing something formally interesting, formally inventive, cool. A combination of styles and forms. You know, people who were kind of ambitiously wedding lyric essay with reportage or like vignette style work. Anything that had some kind of formal inventiveness to it. I think I was taken by that is kind of my thing though. So I, I know other people maybe were like more interested in straightforward narratives, but those were definitely the pieces and the packets of work that were kind of most exciting to me. And the artist statement note is interesting and thank you for that reminder Traci because that was a huge deal and I remember reading artist statements that were super exciting and then got to the work and felt like the work didn't maybe quite fulfill what the artist's statement was promising or trying to do. And then vice versa, sort of, I would read a kind of an artist statement that didn't really sound that interesting or compelling to me for whatever reason it just didn't have that kind of like lightning strike or compelling kind of like hook or whatever you want to call it. But then the work was like stunning. So yeah, there was a lot of really gorgeous work that I was kind of surprised by.

Laura Maylene Walter (15:37):
In that case if you didn't love the artist statement or find it very exciting but you loved the work, did that make the artist statement a moot point? Like were you just more focused on the work or was it more of a combination?

Melissa Faliveno (15:50):
I think for me I was definitely more focused on the work at that point. Like if the work took me then I let it take me. But I do think that in some of the conversations then maybe one of the questions we considered was how the artist statement related to the work and how it reflected the work. So we had to kind of investigate that even maybe in a specialty if they were a little more incongruous.

Tanya Rey (16:11):
Yeah, I thought that was part of the rubric too.

Melissa Faliveno (16:14):
I think so.

Laura Maylene Walter (16:15):
Yes. OAC uses a rubric to judge and assess the work. Yeah. Yeah, that's interesting.

Melissa Faliveno (16:20):
Yeah, yeah.

Tanya Rey (16:20):
Yeah, I don't really remember artist statements sticking out so much. I mean I obviously read them all but I, I would always read the work first and then read the artist statement and so the work kind of took over, you know, it was like the primary thing that I was looking at. And then the artist statements were like just like supporting and a lot of them were just kind of bios, which you know, was fine. And then some of them talked more in depth about longer projects, like for example if they were submitting a novel excerpt. So that was really useful to have for those submissions and there were a lot of novels. And to the question about what stood out, it was interesting, there were a lot of reoccurring themes in the submissions that I read. I attributed it to the pandemic, a lot of pandemic stories.

Laura Maylene Walter (17:06):
Oh, really? Okay.

Tanya Rey (17:06):
And yeah and you know, stories that I feel like couldn't be written in another time that was kind of interesting. So I think for me, given that I obviously responded to the writing itself first and foremost, but then it was also about just the types of stories that I was reading. Like something that was really well conceived, you know, something that was like doing something very different either formally or thematically, you know, like I think the ones that still stick out to me are like more speculative and that's not really even what I write or what I tend to read in my own life. But those stories really stuck out because they were doing something totally different. And maybe it was just because I did see a lot of similarities that the ones that weren't doing that really stuck out to me. But yeah, just a story that I don't think I could read anywhere else was the thing that I was looking for.

Laura Maylene Walter (17:58):
This is really helpful, the discussion about the artist statements because I know writers are always a little worried about that. How much does the statement matter? How much is this going to count? And it can vary based on what you're applying for. I know the NEA for example, there's, I think you only write down one sentence for that application and it's almost entirely the work. So it sounds like what you're saying is while the work always comes first, the context of an artist's statement could possibly help. And it definitely sounds like in this case it's worth putting some time into and being thoughtful about the package of the application and how the statement relates to the work. Anything else on that note you'd like to offer writers for advice for their artist statements? Do's or don'ts?

Tanya Rey (18:41):
I mean I might be the outlier on this, but I think shorter is better than longer. We're reading so many pages already and you know, we have limited time and I think your ability to say what you need to say succinctly in that really shows your skill too. So that would be one thing I'd add.

Laura Maylene Walter (18:57):
Well let's talk about the subjectivity of the process and whether this was the first time you judge something like this or whether you do it a lot, what you learned from the process in terms of being a writer, being an artist, turning your work over to a panel of people who don't know you and they're making selections, you know, what can you say about the subjective nature of it? Has it changed how you look at your own work or your own process? What do you think the writers applying this year should be aware of when it comes to that subjective nature of the judging process?

Traci Brimhall (19:31):
I think all reading is subjective. So I think every time I turn over a poem to my writer's group at home or I send it out to editors, I still think it's a subjective process. I often say when I'm talking to my students about submitting their work, you know, maybe they don't go with me cause they need a six foot blonde and I'm a five two brunette and there's nothing I can do about that, except go to the next audition, right? Like there's nothing personal about that. That's not saying. I also wouldn't have been a great ingénieux for that play, but I wasn't what they were looking for or what was standing out at that time. And I think there's always an element of subjectivity though. I will also say as a judge what was kind of great was the sort of sense that sometimes we were debating and had a sort of a different sense of an application, but a lot of times it was quite helpful to have people be like, oh yeah, we all can't wait to find out who this is because we can't wait to see this work in the world.

Traci Brimhall (20:27):
And maybe that's all three subjective assessments turned out the same. But it's always going to be subjective and there's a way in which it's not personal. There's beautiful journals, literary journals out there I'll never be in because I'm not a six foot blonde and that's all they do. You know? And I don't, that doesn't hurt my feelings. We just clearly don't have the right chemistry together. I'm not doing what they're into and that's fine. But I think also with the panelists changing every year also means unlike that journal that only wants the six foot blonde that I am not, that there is a chance that a certain panel will be the right judging panel for a person's work. If it's not this year,

Laura Maylene Walter (21:04):
I'm just busy now imagining a journal where that is not metaphorical where you have to submit a picture of your height and your hair color to get in <laugh>.

Traci Brimhall (21:12):
It's like the Tinder of literary...

Laura Maylene Walter (21:15):
Right? <laugh>.

Traci Brimhall (21:17):
They'll hold up your fish <laugh>.

Laura Maylene Walter (21:20):
A lot of writers go into these grants, they're nervous, they're really, really hopeful. They watch the deliberations with their kind of heart in their throat, you know. What would you say to them?

Melissa Faliveno (21:30):
I don't know that I have that much to add to what Traci said, but the one thing that always sticks out to me in any sort of selection process like this is like, you know, the number of times that a piece almost made it and it was like right there on the cusp of being selected, you know, one point differential or something like that. And for whatever reason or usually whatever collection of reasons, we went with another piece instead of that piece. You never know when you were sort of on the cusp. And actually I guess one of the great things about this process and it's transparency is you have a chance to hear that perhaps you were, you know, maybe if that's at all helpful to keep in mind too, like Traci said, it's not personal and often you have like somebody rooting for you on this panel even if you're not selected. And that if you have the opportunity to get feedback and it's positive, like take that, believe it, submit again. You know, cause you might have, you will have a different group of panelists. It might be right that year, the combination of the work you do on it and that sort of collection of subjective decision making. So for what it's worth.

Laura Maylene Walter (22:41):
In the year you all judged for the 2022 awards, that was, I believe the first year they did that system with the numbers rankings. And then all the writers who applied received the full list of all the rankings. And so on one hand you could see a few were at the cusp, I forget what the numbers were, but if the cutoff, it was like 12 points to get a grant and you got 11.98, you would see how close you were. And you would also see what really is the difference between 11.98 and 12.03 when it comes to art. So it I think is an encouraging in a way that these things, they just necessarily have to have a cutoff at some point because they can't fund everybody. And I think that can be helpful. And I did years ago when it was in person, I went with a friend who had also applied to Columbus and we watched, and this was when it wasn't online, the numbers weren't quite like that. And we watched her application physically, her pieces of paper be put in the grant pile and taken out again and put in and out and it ended up out. And she never would've known that if she was there in the room. And of course that's very frustrating of course, but it's also, she got to see that she was in the discussion, someone was fighting for her in that room, right. So I think that's just something to keep in mind too.

Tanya Rey (23:54):
Oh my god, I, I don't know how I would handle that now. <laugh> That's so nerve-racking.

Melissa Faliveno (23:58):
I was just thinking that would be just like devastating and yeah <laugh>.

Tanya Rey (24:04):
Yeah. Yeah, I mean I think it's great though to have that as a resource as a writer, you know, so often you really don't know that that's going on. I kind of always advise people if they ever have the opportunity to be a part of a process like this. Even just like reading for a lit mag, which is a relatively easy thing to do. You just learn so much about that and you learn that like Traci and Melissa were saying like it's usually not personal, you know, you could take it seriously but don't take it personally because you never know like what that reader's going through if they're tired or if they've just read three stories that look very similar to yours for whatever reason. It really is so much attributed to chance and oftentimes a numbers game. So it is worth applying again the next year if you don't get in just because you're going to have another set of fresh eyes with a whole new panel and you're going to have that time to take that feedback and work on it. It's really just about staying in it

Laura Maylene Walter (24:59):
Absolutely. Well we already talked about some things that made applications stand out to you. So I suppose we should talk about the other side about applications that in your opinion, because again it's subjective that you didn't feel were ready, that you weren't voting as highly. Can you talk in broad terms about either mistakes you think writers were making or anything that indicated to you the writer wasn't quite as competitive for a grant? I suppose we'll put it that way.

Tanya Rey (25:28):
I can't say like definitively one thing or another, but I think sometimes it's obvious when I'm the first person other than the writer who wrote it, reading that story, I think it's really valuable before you send your work off to get some feedback from somebody, a writer's group, you know, just a trusted reader and just have some input on it that you can work with. Cause sometimes that is kind of does come off on the page.

Melissa Faliveno (25:53):
Yeah, similarly just a kind of level of polish, like if the work hasn't been clearly edited with a lot of time and attention to detail. You know, I think those were pretty rare that I don't think I saw a lot of that, but because the work was so strong and because it was so polished when I did see sort of an example of something less polished, it was more striking. So just that kind of care and attention and editing is really important.

Laura Maylene Walter (26:21):
Anything on the poetry side, Traci, more of the same? Or since poetry is different since you'll have multiple poems from one author, was there anything in the combination of poems, whether someone's trying to show too much range or not enough range? Do you have any thoughts on that?

Traci Brimhall (26:36):
I think it's similar to the advice people get sometimes about putting together a poetry book of like this one was published someplace fancy or might have won some fancy award, but sometimes you're like, these poems don't match, right? Or like they've received validation for certain work other places and so then they put those together rather than, this is a cohesive set that I can have a cohesive artist statement about. And so it can feel disjointed. There's the wanting to put your best foot forward, but I think in poetry it's kind of true just of poets in general. It works a lot like visual arts with a show, right? Where like the pieces need to have a theme or to match under this artist statement and they kind of fit in a certain way. So I think that the artist statement might matter more in poetry perhaps, or at least we definitely talked a lot about it. Again, it's on the rubric, but we did focus a fair bit on it and I think it also, especially if work is more experimental, helps contextualize some of the work that we're reading. So I think the need to put your best foot forward, but also like an artist show a visual art show, like you need the pieces to be cohesive, you need things to fit together and to fit with that statement in a way that really makes each other shine. Like two things next to each other that elevate each other.

Laura Maylene Walter (27:47):
Great. Great. Well this is all so helpful and I don't want to take up too much of your time. So I think we'll start to wrap up. But I have two final questions. First of all, right now Ohio writers are gearing up for the next application round. Applications are due September 1st. Writers, if you're listening to this, apply, there's nothing to lose, right? Do you have any final tips or advice or perspective that you would like to offer these writers who are putting together applications this year? Or just encouragement or reassurance?

Melissa Faliveno (28:17):
I would say if you're on the fence about applying, do it. Like don't stop yourself. Don't let your inner sort of editor tell you not to.

Laura Maylene Walter (28:26):
Right. It's free to submit and you don't have to be published yet. That's not a requirement. No one will even know if you're published yet. So yeah, that's great.

Tanya Rey (28:36):
Yeah, I would agree with that. I would say the only thing worse than being rejected is not even being part of the game. So I would always say apply.

Traci Brimhall (28:44):
I also, this might be silly, print it and sleep on it and read it again. Even as a judge, when I'm deciding I have my decision made and then I have to at least sleep on it once, if not twice, like reread the highest things cause things will settle out. Or you'll see things that you were missing before or you were rushed or you were hungry. Just like the judge's bodies can be like, oh, I'm hungry, I'm distracted. And give you maybe not a full or fair reading. You too can give yourself a poor reading if you're hungry, distracted, tired, whatever. So I really believe in a good night's sleep before all things. So if you are procrastinating, make a fake deadline in your phone to alert you that it's like 48 hours sooner than it is. So you get a draft done that you can reread, you can go through that final polish.

Traci Brimhall (29:27):
Also, as a teacher, it's always my thing of like, why didn't you proofread this before you send it in?

Laura Maylene Walter (29:33):

Traci Brimhall (29:34):
Of just giving yourself that extra 24 to 48 hours that sleeping on it, that cushion in case the computer crashes, save it somewhere like Google Drive so you don't lose it or you always back up to a cloud so you don't lose any important things. And yet give yourself that sleep cycle and look again and make sure everything is the way you want it to be so you can feel really solid about the application you're turning in.

Laura Maylene Walter (29:54):
Yeah, that's really great advice. And so you're not rushing ten minutes before the deadline trying to remember your password to log into the system to figure out where to submit it. Not just to calm yourself down, but to give your work the best chance to check it over again. I think that's great. All right, well we really appreciate your time. I appreciate your time both on this podcast, but also all the time and work you did judging the OAC grant. So thank you. So before we go, can you each tell our listeners a bit about your writing, maybe point them toward a book or a piece that you've published and let them know where they can find you online. Traci, we'll just start with you again.

Traci Brimhall (30:32):
You don't have to look up anything I've ever written. I don't...

Laura Maylene Walter (30:37):
Okay. I'll be linking to your books anyway. I love it. A poet who refuses to self promote. Respect. But...

Traci Brimhall (30:50):
Don't think anyone's going to read it anyway, so I'm happy to just not talk about it.

Laura Maylene Walter (30:54):
That's a challenge. Reverse psychology. I like it.

Traci Brimhall (30:57):
No <laugh>.

Laura Maylene Walter (30:57):
We'll see what we could do.

Traci Brimhall (30:58):
Please don't read it. How's that? <laugh>

Laura Maylene Walter (31:01):
You're banned from reading it. Well, let's see if that spooked anyone else? Melissa? <laugh>

Melissa Faliveno (31:07):
Oh no, I feel like that was like the perfect representation of like the writer life. Like everything I do is to be perceived, but I don't want to be perceived.

Laura Maylene Walter (31:17):
Exactly. Yeah.

Melissa Faliveno (31:19):
<laugh> Yeah, I would love it if you read my work and I would also be horrified. So... <laugh>.

Laura Maylene Walter (31:31):
Why are we like this as writers? Do you know what I mean? Why are we like this? It's just...<laugh>.

Traci Brimhall (31:35):
I think it's just being a person. There's that DW Winnicott quote of like, it's a joy to be hidden, a disaster not to be found. There's a desire to be seen deeply, but also please, why are you looking at me straight? Like...<laugh>.

Laura Maylene Walter (31:51):
Like if you have a book come out or a publication come out like you're supposed to post or you feel like you're supposed to and you do it, which is this way of trying to get attention, but it's also so agonizing and it's, I just want to be alone in a room with a computer. You know? I just, I don't want any of this.

Melissa Faliveno (32:06):
I just had this like very horrible and wonderful experience of like half of one of my undergraduate classes having read my book and then admitting it at the end of the semester and I write deeply personal essays.

Laura Maylene Walter (32:19):

Melissa Faliveno (32:19):
And I was like, oh, I'm so glad you told me this now and not at the beginning of the semester. Cause that would've been awkward <laugh>.

Laura Maylene Walter (32:27):
I'm sure that was a strange moment for you, but how lovely that they read your work, you know?

Melissa Faliveno (32:31):
Yeah. It was very, It was very sweet. Yeah.

Laura Maylene Walter (32:32):
Yeah. It's better to think about that from a distance when they're not in front of you in the room.

Melissa Faliveno (32:37):
Exactly, exactly. You know too much. <Laugh>

Tanya Rey (32:38):
Yeah. Especially with non-fiction and poetry. Like it's, it's a very vulnerable thing. I mean, it's a vulnerable thing regardless, but I would love to just be like a Elena Ferrante and just like never show my face.

Laura Maylene Walter (32:51):
Exactly. Mm-hmm.

Tanya Rey (32:53):
And have nobody know my identity. But I do have a website. If you do want to read something, it's and all of my stuff is, that's available online, is linked there.

Laura Maylene Walter (33:03):
Well, you're all very modest, but also very wonderful and I'll be linking to all of your things. I almost feel like it's, we've all been around the writer who self promotes too much in person or online. And so it's almost refreshing. And listeners, I hope you'll go and read their work, even if they won't tell you to. I will tell you to. So. Thank you all so much for being here and for judging these awards in the past and for giving writers in the future some advice. So thank you so much.

Laura Maylene Walter (33:34):
Page Count is presented by the Ohio Center for the Book at Cleveland Public Library. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, rate, and leave a review for Page Count wherever you get your podcast. Learn more online or find a transcript of this episode at Follow us on Twitter @cplocfb or find us on Facebook. If you'd like to get in touch, email and put "podcast" in the subject line. Finally, follow me on Twitter and Instagram @LauraMaylene. Thanks for listening and we'll be back in two weeks for another chapter of Page Count.

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