A Little Bit of Wonder is where I journal about the somewhat roundabout way that I have been working to establish a career and a strong sense of self--I spend a lot of time thinking and writing about "direction" and "identity." I have a Master's Degree in Literature, but I'm no longer working as an English Professor; I'm starting the next step in my life as I work to establish a career as a writer in the non-profit sector.

At my companion blog, Little Wonder's Recommended Reading, you will find reviews for both books and other blogs that I enjoy. The two blogs are inter-linked, so you can access my reviews and reading challenges from the sidebar on the left.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


I think I can officially be considered a “workaholic” of sorts.

Job #1: Grantwriter

While I’ve been a fairly polished, organized and artful writer for a long time, grantwriting is a whole new skill and art form to learn. Basically, you’re asking someone to give you a huge wad of cash (the first grant that I’ve been assigned to work on is an ask for $50,000). This means that you need the style and aplomb to convince the grantmaker that the people served by your organization have a particularly compelling need; moreover, that your organization is capable of meeting that need once given the necessary funds. In order to be convincing, you need to write a proposal that is a winning combination of frightening statistics (for example, 40% of residents of the Bronx live in poverty), compelling personal stories, and your organization’s record of success managing funds and meeting the community’s needs. There is a narrative, and then there are forms. Lots and lots of forms. For the past month, I’ve been busy learning how to put all these things together… and I still have a lot to learn.

If I’m honest, though, I actually like it. A friend of mine called to catch up the other day, and when I told him that I was learning the fine art of grant writing, he apologized profusely. “No, no,” I assured him. “I know this makes me an even bigger geek – but I like doing the research. I’m learning a lot about poverty, parenting, the foster care system, autism, etc. And I love writing the narrative. Of course, budgeting has never been my strong suit…”

Job #2: Communications and Public Relations Associate

This job title could mean a lot of things – one of my pet peeves while I was job hunting was the ride range of companies that slapped the title “associate” on any and every listing. From what I can tell, it’s the easiest way to say “you’re not a manager, but you’re still going to be asked to manage a lot.” I’ve seen it applied to secretarial positions, sales clerk positions, copy writing positions, glorified babysitting positions…

Fortunately, what this translates to in terms of my own job is a list of tasks and responsibilities that I genuinely enjoy. I get to play Lois Lane: I write for our organization’s website, email newsletter, and hard copy publications. I also get to manage our Facebook page, monitor the web for instances that we appear in the news, and eventually develop some other strategies for spreading awareness about what we do. I’m learning more about the concept of branding (how you make a name for your company or organization, then present a compelling story) and networking. It’s actually quite fascinating… I’ve even been reading little bits and pieces on branding and social networking some evenings after work. (See? Workaholic.)

“Jobs” #3 and #4: Personal Blogger (on A Little Bit of Wonder) and Book Blogger/Reviewer (on Little Wonder’s Recommended Reading)

Okay, so these aren’t paid positions. I shouldn’t call them jobs – especially if they’re hobbies, meant for my own enjoyment. I shouldn’t feel obligated to blog, right? Except I have a do do do mentality. I’m always working on a project, always designing something, making something, reading something, writing something.

In my world, even the (hundreds and hundreds) of books that I want to read become items on a checklist, and I have to be careful not to get too bogged down with my read more read more mentality, or I stop enjoying myself. I think this is partially a product of my stretch in graduate school, but it’s also just who I am. I have always been eager to read more read more – the term “voracious reader” is particularly apt. It’s like an insatiable hunger. And I have always churned out pages and pages and pages of writing. Back at my parents’ house, I have whole shelves full of journals, from back before I started typing my entries and blogging. There have always been projects that have kept me up until 3 AM – websites or artwork of some kind. I just can’t keep still, can’t shut my brain down. I'm kind of an intense person.

The blogging, then, is great for several reasons; overall, writing focuses my energies productively. My book blog forces me to really think about what I read, keeps my literary analytical skills sharp despite the fact that I’m no longer taking or teaching literature classes, helps me keep track of all my thoughts, and keeps me connected to a literary community. Journaling on A Little Bit of Wonder helps me to think through my life and therefore live more deliberately, and also serves as a sounding board and first draft for things I would like to include in the memoir/novel that I would like to put together one day. All very important things, all things that help me meet my personal goals of being a dedicated reader, disciplined writer and – someday – a published author.

So what’s the problem?

The problem is, I go to work and I write. On my lunch hour, I read and/or write. I drive home, kiss my husband hello, grab some dinner, and sit down at my laptop to write. On the weekends, I throw in a load of laundry, go pick up some more diet Coke from the grocery store, read 1-2 novels, and write. There isn’t time for a lot of variety in my life these days, now that I work 40 hours a week and still try to blog in my spare time (at least six entries a week, between the two blogs).

I’m a little bit concerned that as long as my blogging and writing are a priority, I won’t be able to develop much of a life that exists outside of all my “jobs.” Thank God for my husband, who is a much more individual than I am. He gets me out of the house most weekends – this weekend, we managed to go out to Greenwich Point again on Saturday and take a seven mile walk in our neighborhood on Sunday. But I worry that I’m neglecting him for most of the week. And I don’t know when I would have time to socialize, even if I did feel like making friends in Nyack (which I’m still not quite ready to do… not quite yet). I think at some point, something is going to have to give – especially when we want to have kids (in three or four years, perhaps). But even before then, will I really be able to maintain such a rigorous writing life?

Yet all of these things have become really important to the way that I now define myself as a person and maintain my goals. I don’t really know if I can keep up the pace, but I’m going to be disappointed if I can’t… and I feel that by giving up some of my blogging, I would be greatly diminishing the likelihood that I will actually ever produce a novel or a memoir – I can’t simply rely on my grantwriting to keep my creative narrative skills sharp. So, I’ve got to find a way of balancing all the writing with more exercise, socializing, etc… and once in a while, I’ve got to find a way to take care of other random but important responsibilities. I’ve got to find time, for example, to take down my Christmas tree one of these days.


XY said...

Hmm.. I would assume you could get some inspiration from real life experiences, besides reading? My father was a painter, he spent most of his life traveling and connecting with people from different sub-cultures in China. Needless to say, he didn't spend much time with his family at all, but he was a great artist! I guess my point is, it's ok to spend most of your time on your passion, in your case, writing, but you do need to leave the house and socialize so you can observe people and hear their stories first-hand:-)

Caity said...

Wow I would love to read so much though I guess it's not the same when it's being forced on you.

I agree with XY.

Do what you love and get out and experience things.

Found you on 20sb and I'm officially follower 21! Yay for me!

Little Wonder Lauren said...

I wouldn't say that the reading and the writing are forced on me... reading and blogging are definitely things that I want to be doing, which is why I come home and do them even when I'm tired. But sometimes I can develop a mentality that I should continue to do them, even when I'm not really in the mood. That's probably when I should remind myself that even though I love my hobbies, they are still just hobbies... :-)

Thanks for following! Hope you enjoy reading...

Little Wonder Lauren said...

@XY: you are totally right. You have to have experiences to write about. But I've got a lot of experiences stock-piled, so I'm okay if I take a reprieve from the world a bit. I've got a lot that I'm processing. Plus, I'm having new experiences at my new job... But I definitely have to get out into the world again more.

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