Month: December 2016

On Reflection

Image: Moyan Brenn  I’m not much for doing reflections. There’s something about looking back into my past that I don’t like. I imagine much of it has to do with the fact that for many years I was stuck in the same place, around the same people, not moving on, not growing, not changing. No one likes to be reminded that they’re stuck in quicksand while trying to figure out how to remove their feet from the quicksand they’re currently sinking in. 

Just Keep Writing…

  Image: Andrew Hefter Have you ever heard the phrase, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?” Well, according to that definition, maybe I’m more than a bit insane. After all, I’ve been writing fiction since I was at least twelve (one of my first short stories was about a leopard named Jeopardy who didn’t care for danger in the least), and now I’m twice that age, and I haven’t published a book or had an enormous amount of success. Yet, here I am, in a graduate program for creative writing, staring at a blank page and willing the words to form in my brain so that I can harvest them. Part of me wants to know, will this pay off? Will I someday finish a book and publish it and, if I do, will people even read it? But for the moment, I just have to push away those concerns and focus on sounding out this one word on the page and deciding whether it sounds better …

5 Things I’ve Learned From Workshop

  Workshops push you to write because there is a real, concrete, tangible deadline. I hate to admit this, but the deadline forces me to write instead of watching Netflix or browsing shoes online, and that push helps. Workshop can feel like information overload. Especially if you’re like me, and you go home and immediately devour all of the written feedback at once. I find it helpful to read all of the written notes and line-by-line comments once, quickly, and then put them away and make a list of things that I find helpful: ideas to use in revision. I think this is helpful because by putting everything away, you are recording only what you remember, and because you inevitably remember certain things and not others, these are the things that matter to you. Go for the metaphors. Even if they fall flat some of the time, when they work, they really work.* I hate revising. First drafts are fun because they are freedom and potential, a balloon expanding. Workshop deflates the balloon to a …

Contractual Community: Minority Students’ Place in the Creative Writing Program

Image: Conal Gallagher A lot has happened since the events of last semester as detailed here. I thought about what it might look like for me to give an update on promises given, what has improved, what hasn’t. And yet, I feel like it’d be unnecessary, in a sense, to give another somewhat in-depth barometric of things overall. A problem had been pointed out, namely the program’s inadequate approach, specifically under the helm of the current director, Jeff Lockwood, to address issues uniquely relevant to minority students. A call had been made and had been heard. Anymore expended emotional and intellectual energies, other than acting for the sake of my own survival if necessary, would be undue labor on my part, at least in my view. Then, there’s simply the matter of our program’s change in directors starting next year, from Jeff Lockwood to Brad Watson. So rather than go in that direction, I thought I would discuss a topic endemic to the creative writing program generally: problems with the notion of “community.” (Although, if …

Last Christmas I Gave You My Heart

(The “you” in my title refers to MFA program applications…) (Brief moment of silence for George Michael, with whom I share a birthday and therefore a Christmas half-birthday…I had “Careless Whisper” on repeat all day at work and am now planning to researching the history of the saxophone in pop music for a new work. But I digress) Hi Everyone! Sorry for the delay in posting; I’m very excited for this year to be over, is all I can say…I doubt next year will be any less hectic, but hopefully it will be more focused. Took a while to recover from the midterms/Halloween/moving houses debacle, but we managed to get the new place all set up, just in time to host my program’s Holiday Party! The event served as much-needed motivation to get everything cleaned up and to go grocery shopping…made a vegan chili that turned out well and didn’t kill anyone with its spiciness so yay. The party culminated in a White Elephant book exchange, in which we all contributed a copy of books we …

A Writer’s New Year’s Resolution

Image: jev55 It’s approaching the end of December and the beginning of the New Year. It’s a time to rejuvenate your bank accounts, eat leftovers with slight remorse, watch the new season of The Bachelor and, of course, make New Years Resolutions. For writers, this could mean a lot of things. For instance, finishing that one book the size of Moby Dick you can never find time to read, sending out your work like a sower hoping something will flourish in the field of publishers, or wanting to have more writing under your belt. A New Years Resolution requires a change. That is to say—a person needs to make a discerning/meticulous effort in order to see their desired outcome come true. If that weren’t the case, then by golly I’d have my Zac Efron abs while sitting around for the next Star Wars movie to come out. It calls for action, which is always easier said than done. When thinking about my own writing for next year, I still want to generate work that I’m proud of …