Endowed Fellowships: Doug Crandell

Novelist and memoirist Doug Crandell, recipient of the 2005 Goldfarb Family Fellowship endowed by former Board member Ronald Goldfarb, arrived at the VCCA expecting to find a more formal and academic atmo­sphere than what actually awaited him at Mt. San Angelo. He was pleasantly surprised to find the relaxed and casual environment, and particularly enjoyed the camaraderie of being surrounded by other writers, composers and visual artists.

Doug felt so at home in fact, he describes it as “at times, surreal,” since he spent so much time working on cattle, dairy and pig farms as a boy growing up in Indiana.

Now a full-time grants writer for a human service organization, Doug ap­preciated the wide open stretch of time that lay before him at the VCCA. He quickly settled into a productive routine that, in the end, netted him an average of 4,000 words a day of what he describes as “pure writing,” and then another large chunk of editing time.

The sum of all these days and words, two weeks in total, added up to The All-American Industrial Hotel, a memoir published in March 2007 by Chicago Review Press. His first novel, The Flawless Skin of Ugly People–begun while on the same residency in the time left over after finishing his memoir–is due out this fall from Virgin Books.

“Being at the VCCA was a complete pardon from my everyday life and made me a better writer,” says Doug, who lives in Marietta, Georgia, with his wife and young daughter. “I learned more about focus and about being com­pletely present when I am writing and editing.”

Doug has published widely in literary magazines and anthologies; his debut memoir Pig Boy’s Wicked Bird, published in 2004, was a Quality Book Club selection. This fall he is on a national book tour promoting The Flawless Skin of Ugly People.

“It was quite an honor, given the tradition of Mr. Goldfarb’s fantastic writing, to think of my own work and realize that the Goldfarb family believes it is worthy enough for their support,” says Doug. “The endowed residency at the VCCA provided me with the opportunity to become much better at what I am doing. As the weeks went by I was working so much better because I made the effort. It will be lifelong gift now that I have learned that skill set.”