Vegetables, yarn, and yarns: all of my passions all in one place.

Monday, May 21, 2012

On Your Mark, Get Set...Write

Coming out of the MFA program, my primary concern is in finding an agent and getting published. (Though, I still haven't sent anything out to any lit mags. I may become the Emily Dickinson of the American novel-in-stories.)

I never considered the other concern I now find myself having. The thing is, I just finished a book, and while I celebrate that fact, the next inevitable fact presents itself: that means it's time to start another one. Not only do I have zero ideas in the way of novel-worthy concepts, I also find the prospect of starting anew on another three-year minimum venture not just daunting but utterly unimaginable.

At graduation, the former and future heads of the program gave good speeches as to the important task: keep writing. Then, they gave us beautiful bound (I assume faux-leather) notebooks with the program logo on the cover. I generally agree with this statement and, frankly, also can't imagine a life in which I am devoid of writing. At the time, I thought, "yes yes, of course I will write and write often." This is easier to say than do, especially with a full time job and the prospect of whoring sending my current novel out for potential publication and representation, not to mention the June wedding plans and knitting fixation. And of course, it's spring, so I have to take time aside to re-remember the chords for another summer of acoustic family bonfire jams, now that I don't get to practice as consistently as I'd like. (I almost have "American Pie" back in the playlist, which is no small feat, as it has a wide variety of chords, as well as variations of those chords. There is no simple repeat to remember. It's anarchy.)

Add on to all of that the fact that staring at a blank page with no idea of what to put on it and it all equals me sitting at my desk with a word doc open, watching back episodes of House. Sometimes I'm also knitting. Meanwhile, that leather-bound tome sits empty and weeping in my desk drawer. I keep telling myself to snap out of it, and then I tell myself that when I'm ready to write, an idea will come and I shouldn't go all panicky about it.

It amounts to this: I'm in the post-MFA place. It seems like each MFAer goes through it. You know that the degree doesn't equal establishment into the profession, but you have these grandiose ideas of all that you'll accomplish by the end of your three year emersion into the creative writing world. Really, the degree is a starting point, not an end point, and I need to get back up on the horse and show that I'm one of those people who keep going. I'm one of those people who work hard. I'm one of those people who keep writing.

For now, I'm not quite in the mindset to jump back into a book-length project. Sometimes a book feels like too much. I took book breathers during my MFA. Two springs I spent focused on poetry instead of my fiction. It allowed me to cleanse my writing palette so to speak. I think maybe that's what I need now, so my current writing plan is this:

I'm going back to the roots of my writing bug. I'm going to take that leather-bound notebook and, just like when I was in high school, I'm going to take it with me and I'm going to write in it. Short thoughts, fun quotes, poems. If I'm lucky, I'll start writing down ideas for potential novels. I've never had to work to be a writer, but I'm going to work hard to stay one.

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