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$10,000 worth of validation for writers

You’re going to laugh when I say it’s not the money. It’s the validation that’s important.

I’m serious. No matter how poor, most poets and prose writers have more money flowing in each month than they do validation.

Rejection, for most writers, is the gristly chicken leg of life. Day after day. Chew and swallow, chew and swallow, because true writers keep at it no matter what.

And then ... then ... one day a check arrives for $10,000 from the North Carolina Arts Council. Ah, sweet ambrosia! Somebody out there thinks I’m worthwhile. Somebody believes in me. The writing spirit takes wing and soars.

For 13 lucky North Carolina folks – two poets, eight prose writers and three screenwriters – a wagon full of cash and a truckload of validation. Hooray!

Poet Julie Funderburk, who teaches at Queens University of Charlotte and directs The Arts at Queens, will spend her money on “uninterrupted, open-ended time” for the “solitude, study and exploration” that “art requires but life often prohibits.” Her first full-length collection is due from LSU in 2016.

Charlotte native David Joy of Cashiers (“Where All Light Tends to Go”), has sold a second novel, “The Weight of This World,” due in 2017, as well as a third, “The Line that Held Us,” which the fellowship will allow him to complete.

Raleigh novelist Kim Church (“Byrd”) is at work on a new novel, “Mill Mothers’ Song,” set during the Gastonia textile strike of 1929. It’s the story of Lena Sparks and Rae Pruitt, young women born on the same day in the same mountain valley in Burke County and raised as sisters. Church says the strike will test their sisterly bond.

Wiley Cash of Wilmington (“A Land More Kind than Home” and “The Dark Road to Mercy”) is also working on a novel about that same strike. He says he’ll be spending time in his native Gastonia over the next year, researching and writing.

Abigail DeWitt of Burnsville is working on a collection of linked short stories, “The Sex Appeal of the French & Other Stories,” based on her mother’s experiences as a French teenager under Nazi occupation. She’ll travel to France to research specific places and events in the stories.

Other winners are Anna Lena Phillips of Wilmington (poetry); and prose writers Sheila Boneham of Wilmington (non-fiction); Andrew Perry of Greensboro (fiction); Alina Ramirez of Greensboro (fiction); and Lee Zacharias of Greensboro (fiction). And play/screen writers: Sally Vacca of Statesville (screen); Laura DeBar of Durham (screen); and Monika Gross of Asheville (play).

Congrats, one and all.

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