Author: Bailey Boyd

Stop writing, then write

Image: alone in a bar by x1klima I’m not sure how the rest of you write. A good friend works with twenty-something drafts that he keeps renumbering; I work mainly in my head. I need to feel an essay before my fingers know how to make it take shape, and I have to see it in script before I know how to find the message hidden in the keyboard. I’ve learned though, that working out my head and my hands only with essays makes them calloused in certain places, tight in others, and less open to different movements. In the creative field, this rigidity is dangerous, restrictive—boring. So this summer, I learned to get creative with something else. I left the essays to frolic about in my mind while I committed my hands to working with colors, textures, quantities and shapes. Without an art space and a supreme lack in supplies, I turned to cooking for a creative outlet, and I experimented with that medium as I would with anything in an art studio. This …

Wrapping Up.

Image: GMDS by meg This year, I learned that I am a writer. It is the most important of the lessons I’ve learned. See, I didn’t write for the past two weeks. I ducked out of Missouri the day after my last paper was due and I have been driving around my beloved Florida since then, visiting family and friends (not all and not enough) and hoping that the AC in Rudy, my dear hatchback, wouldn’t succumb to the relentlessness of the Fort Myers sun. I. didn’t. write. I felt that I had no words left—that I had been wrung out. My wonderings have woven themselves into various essays over the past year, my similes have been exhausted, and my perspective was beginning to falter. I wanted to let my mind breathe these two weeks and recharge by the ocean. Well. Words came back, but they come back in droves, with no direction. In my head, I heard them shriek when I knew that they should whisper; others mumbled when they should have projected clearly. …

Leaving the Smears

Image: Workshop Window by Graeme Tozer At my program here in Mizzou, we have two large offices where we all have been assigned desks and nice chairs on wheels. We have card-swipe access to the building after hours and we have large keys for these offices downstairs. The place is normally a montage of clipped fingernails around travel coffee mugs, blazers thrown off and flats slipped on between classes, conferences with students, the occasional collapse of a stack of books and trip over a power cord. In the break room you will always find someone in front of the fridge, vying for space for another $8 Wal-mart zippered lunchbag among the wall of $8 Wal-mart zippered lunchbags. But on the weekends, the offices are empty, quiet, still. Somehow, I lucked into having a desk in front of a window that looks out behind the university’s flagship building and the flowers that spill over large ceramic urns. It is from here that I wrote this post. I’m not sure where I’m headed and perhaps that is …

Other options in that pesky numbers game

Image: Numbers by Marc Kjerland It’s the time of year when most MA/MFA applicants are hearing back from programs. This is the time for decisions, for comparisons, and for running the numbers. For many of us, the numbers play quite a large role in deciding where we will be spending the next two or three years. Most programs ask you to teach in order to offer you funding. Other schools ask you to fulfill some other position and still others offer nothing at all, and ask that you pay hourly course fees. This is where the numbers game comes into play. My MA program at the University of Missouri is a funded program. From first year English graduate students the department asks for ten hours per week to be spent tutoring undergraduate students in the school’s Writing Center. We either meet with students in person, or we respond to online submissions. We read through essays and we give feedback, we ask the students what they would like to work on with us and for an …

Imposter

Image: Whisper – Cuchotement by Frédérique Voisin-Demery Imposterrrrr. The whisper escapes from my medicine cabinet as I reach for my toothbrush. Imposterrrrr. It snakes around the mugs in my cupboard as I grab my favorite. Imposterrrrr. It is what I hear from my closet at night. It wafts in through the wall vents riding on the heat. It resounds through the hallways after I leave a class having not spoken. On walks home, the whispers fight against my jacket like the cold. They try to hold my hand through my gloves. I can hear them over my headphones, through the noise of the wind. At my apartment, the words manage to sneak in past the front door as I drop my bag on the linoleum entrance. They vanish into dark corners and into the nooks with doors, ready to spill out at me when I need a fresh towel. I crack a beer and a book and I know the words are behind me, pulsing and throbbing. I fall asleep on the couch, lights on, …

And now I cook

Image: Morag Cooking Winter break is a time to cook, sleep and collect more stories. I stroll through the local (not university) library, picking out books with funky fonts and interesting back covers. My dining table is covered with cookbooks and essay collections; my ottoman is clear of sticky notes and binders but instead has beer coasters and even more books splayed open. It’s December and it is cold. The roads are quiet; the air feels blue behind the smoke that spills from the power plant. Yesterday, I opened my kitchen blinds and did a little dance when I saw the cracked and brown foliage covered with fine shreddings of snow. I ran to open my front windows and saw that the whole of my street, perfectly still in the winter lull, was blanketed too. My apartment tends to smell like some sort of vegetable and spice, now that I have the time to roast sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts. My counters and sink are full of bowls and pots from soaking beans or simmered …

Sometimes the words don’t come

For much of November, I sat on my second-hand green sofa and stared out my living room window with my bowl of oatmeal perched in my lap. I sat this way for many hours on many mornings. Days three, four, five that a fellow graduate student was refusing to eat in protest. The day I heard that he signed a DNR. The day the University of Missouri system president resigned. The morning after I saw the online threats to members of our campus. The days of graduate student walk-outs. Most mornings, I would have a book in my lap, too. Brother, I’m Dying by Edwidge Danticat for my non-fiction workshop. New Age Capitalism and The Jesuit Relations for my lit seminars. But many times, I couldn’t focus on the text and would just drift off, the oatmeal half-eaten and growing cold; the pages of my book fluttering shut, unread. For hours, I watched the tree outside my window—the only one on the block that stands full of leaves. During the whole month of November, it …