All posts tagged: motivation

What I Want to Remember from AWP

At AWP last week, I felt fortunate for the opportunity, yet overwhelmed about “making the most of it” and also, walking around D.C., I felt like an imposter. People wore business suits and bluetooths and walked with purpose, while I felt dazed and hungry and underdressed, and if that isn’t a metaphor for adulthood (at least early adulthood), I don’t know what is. AWP (Association of Writers & Writing Programs) is the largest literary conference in North America. This year, over 12,000 people took part: ranging from graduate students to publishers to poets to memoirists to teachers to editors. Each day offered dozens of panels on a variety of topics. Here are some of the ones I attended: “What Journalists Can Teach Literary Writers,” “Writing from the Wound,” “Success, Failure, and The Green-Eyed Monster: Thriving in a Competitive Environment,” “The Craft of Empathy,” and “Writing Neighborhoods: (Re)Creating the Places We Live.” I think too often we feel inspired and motivated at these types of conferences, but when we return to our lives, we remember laundry, grocery …

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 …

November is a bitch.

Crisp, cold, light, first snow dandruff the mountains, autumn’s last leaves swirl and the swoosh swoosh swoosh of traipsing leaf piles brings back childhood. White swans migrate into the duck pond. Will they survive the coming winter? Do ducks ever feel cold? They dive deep and paddle. Where do the turtles go in this cold? Mystery. All leaves down by nightfall. Albuquerque’s beauty occasionally strikes a stunning uppercut. This month has been a bitch. Hitler elected. Leonard died. Fidel. Mose Allison. Capecoense—a whole futebol team gone in a blink. The Grim Reaper has been clearing house all year. Bowie. Prince. Muhammad Ali. For me, November in northern climes has always been the cruelest month. I can’t finish anything. I feel everything is worthless. Doubt is rife. Anxiety high. Binge-drinking like there’s no tomorrow, every time I log on to anything all I see is shit shit shit. I’m afraid and don’t know what to do. The bad men are winning, do they always? I’ve been in the US for 14 months on this MFA. Beliefs …

Renewing The Vows

As the light at the end-of-the-term-tunnel approaches, skippering half-thoughts firefly through my accordion-like mind. Not a round-up, not yet, as I am not finished, but so close. One big nagging developmental editing project to start and finish, two solid re-writes in fiction and non, a semi-ton truck load of papers and portfolios to mark, the daily slew of emails to wade through making sure the next term is more fruitful and streamlined—scheduling and course picking is a fine art, corners should not be cut. Meet the professors, read the syllabi, ask cohorts what they did and thought, spin the bottle click the plunge. But summer, ah summer and getting off campus is pounding on the door and the idea of returning seems distant. Why not just go back to where I came from and never return? Why not become a postman or a steady-salaried insurance salesman in a country where I am fully-legal and don’t have to worry about guns and healthcare and bitter slum-lords and offending new-friends with comments and feedback and how to …