Monday, October 18, 2010

Do You Think I Can Arrange Someone Singing My Writerly Praises Every Day? It's Such a Boost to Efficiency.

If you are interested at all in how my MFA program is progressing, let me give you an update. Unbelievably, I am nearly through the first semester of the program, with one more packet of writing to send to my current menor. The way it works is that once a month, I send off 20 pages or so to my assigned mentor, along with a book-report-type writeup of something I've chosen to read. (The writeup is supposed to analyze the craft tools that I'm trying to extract from my chosen reading.)

Our mentor then reads our submissions and writes up detailed responses, depending on what where we are with the piece and what type of feedback we tell her we want. If, for example, something is far along, she might look at it more for language than structure. If it's a first draft of a story, she might give ideas on how the ending does or doesn't work, or how the characters' motivations aren't really laid out.

It's been a strange setup, because one can (I'm not saying I do this, mind you) procrastinate all month until the days before the due date. In a regularly meet-once-or-twice-a-week class, one needs to crank out a certain number of pages a week, so there's not a lot of room for procrastination. Here, however, I find myself noodling around on three of four things I may or may not submit; then, hours before deadline, I realize I need to focus on one thing. So I crank until I have the one thing to turn in. It's mostly been new stories, which is great, because that's sort of the whole purpose of the effort here. But on the flip side, it also means that you begin lots of things and don't really get around to completing anything. Particularly if you're me and find the hard part to be powering through revisions, long after you've lost your love of the people and the story.

As much as I feel like I've been turning in first drafts that I've barely cleaned up for typos, I've been gratified by my mentor's responses to them. She gets what I'm doing with them, points out components that give me pause, and makes suggestions that simplify things that I've made too convoluted by overthinking. Excellent, and it makes me think that I'm pursuing a good path for myself and developing my own voice.

But I don't want to get too smug about my Absolute Genius when she tells me my things are more developed than I led her to believe by my "first draft" hand waving. (Oh my god!!! I'm a natural!! I'm like Mozart! First draft and done!!!)

Friday, October 1, 2010

I Am Given Leave To Officially Blog Athletic Accomplishments

You may have heard that la vida Laura is beachside these days. Awesome! And the beach contains a very lovely combo bike/pedestrian path that goes for miles and miles. If you're living somewhere that's mild all year round (and where no one ever bloody walks), this is an amazingly good thing.

I'm loving it. I've spent nearly every afternoon out there, actually jogging. In fact, I'm out there so much, it's doing really unpleasant things to my knees (no worries, I'm dialing back the intensity a little bit). Can't wait to get my bike.

Last weekend, we both got new shoes, which have made all the difference for my knees. And B showed me up this morning by heading to the path while I was still in my jammies and watching Castaway. We have shoes. We have a plan to step things up. I'm even considering (just considering, mind you) trying the swimming thing again. Flunking beginning swimming is not a propitious start to swimming as an enjoyable hobby. But then, I used to hate jogging too.