All posts tagged: writers block

Strategizing for Second Year

Image: Shemsu.Hor The countdown has begun. After a summer of traveling in Europe, teaching ESL classes, seeing the utterly inspirational musical Hamilton, and generally avoiding writing despite my desire to get ahead, I’ve started my fall classes and I finally have the motivation to do what I came to grad school for: write. I’m in my second and final year of my MA in creative writing at UC Davis, which means between now and May I need to write a thesis. I’ve decided to make my thesis a collection of short stories. Compartmentalizing my thesis into smaller, doable tasks— writing one story at a time— will do wonders for my mental health. Or at least that’s what I’m hoping. When I was an undergraduate, I wrote a senior thesis for my English degree. It was an academic paper that ended up being 90 pages long and not very good, even though I worked on it for a whole year straight. My entire senior year I felt this looming sense of dread hovering over me, like …

In Search of Lost Mojo (An introduction)

Image: Adeline Oka You applied to MFA programs last winter peddling your best traits: a voracious curiosity and an insatiable lust for soul-stirring prose. A year later, after a 17-day cross-country road trip originating in South Florida, after getting settled during one of those famed blissful Pacific Northwestern summers—the apex of which was witnessing a cosmically rare solar eclipse from smack dab in the path of totality—after briefly evacuating to New York City when those dreamy days combusted into a toxic haze fueled by catastrophic wildfires, you find yourself in rural Oregon the night before fall quarter starts, shivering in your Miami clothes, frozen before a white screen. Fraud, you scream in your head. It’s not that you knowingly deceived the ad-coms; what you’re realizing is, like the photo from eight years ago you still keep on your Tinder profile, that portrait of your writer self is outdated. That version was based on who you thought you were at 24, when you first seriously considered getting an MFA upon realizing, during your first graduate program, that you didn’t just want to read …

The Dissertation

Image: Ignacio B. Peña I’ve got two posts left (including this one) before my regular(ish) contribution to The MFA Years comes to a close. Before I write my wrap-up next month at the end of my course, I wanted to take some time to talk about the last few months as it relates to my experience approaching my summer dissertation, and everything that that entails. First, a brief overview. Over the course of this summer, the fiction students are required to write a creative dissertation project that spans a word count of 15,000 – 20,000 words. This can be achieved in any way the student sees fit, be it one complete novella, a collection of short stories or flash fiction, or the continuation of a novel-in-progress. I decided I wanted to write a self-contained novella. Undoubtedly the foremost reason for having taken this year to pursue a Masters was so that I can develop my craft as a writer of fiction; and in this respect, I feel that my time in Edinburgh has been invaluable. …

No Writing, All Questions

Image: Matt Roberts I haven’t written anything in a month. There hasn’t been a story or a poem, an outline or sketch, hell, I haven’t even written down any ideas on scrap pieces of paper. I’ve started and stopped this multiple times this past month trying to figure out what I’d like my last post to be about. I think you can tell from the writing it is not the best. I’ve got nothing. I imagine part of it is needing a break after finishing my last semester in college and then spending a week and a half dealing with graduation and all its many activities. Most people I know shut their brains off for a little after the end of a semester. But a month feels too long, like I’m getting complacent with my writing when, three months before entering an MFA program, I should be doing the exact opposite. This time of not writing has allowed me to think. In the midst of trying to find housing and a clinic near me who …