Friday, November 29, 2013

The thick, dead line

Late again with the blog, but I haven't been slacking, either. The story was drafted, successfully, I think. I shared it with half a dozen people and got an equal amount of varied ideas and opinions. Not that I needed a reminder that ultimately, the only person that had to be happy with it is me. Still, I know an eclectic bunch of readers, and writers, those who do it for hobby, those who do it professionally, and academically.

It was the third draft that I ended up passing around. The feedback was reminiscent of earlier stories. No one said it was bad, but I got about as many good comments, too. Pauses, confused faces, and frowns. It helped a lot. It was the process of actually writing it that was fairly frustrating. Normally, I think about a story, I sketch out pertinent details, I think, and I mull, and I percolate, and I introspect. Then, when I'm fit to bursting, I sit down and I write. It's rough, and not fit to show to anyone, but front to back it is a completed draft.

Not this time. I mentioned before that I had simply failed to finish it. I got to a certain point, and just stopped. I was frozen by indecision about what I should say next. With the pressure of grad school apps, I pushed. I got a little more done, but it still wasn't done. I pushed again. Eventually, I got to the end of the draft, and I spent some days trying to clean it up, smooth the the edges, and sand the rough spots. That's what I showed to my readers.

The problem, which the feedback helped me realize, is that I had rushed the latter bits I had written. I was accused of being a minimalist back in college, and I've always been accused of toeing the line between not saying enough, and only saying the satisfactory amount. I get apoplectic at the prospect of over-telling. At times (read: often) this creates a need for "unpacking." Tightly wound concepts are mentioned in clipped terms and are never mentioned again, creating the reader a lot of distress in regards to juggling understanding of the ideas and consuming others, sort of like having to unwrap food while chewing on it.

I ended up adding about 600 words in an effort to better explain things. I have a few weeks until the first application is due, so I've fallen short of my "done by turkey day" goal, and I likely will not make my "done by December" goal either. Maybe I'm a procrastinator? What I am more sure about is being happy all of this is winding down, that I'm slowly checking things off, with an end in sight. I miss writing with vague, and personal deadlines. No account names or PIN numbers or passcodes or big, red, bold, underlined letters.

And even though it would be a good question to wonder what I'm signing up for, if I like being beholden to myself, I am still excited about the prospect of starting the next chapter of my development. I'm also starting to understand why good things can be better than interesting things.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Nine hundred Ninety-Nine

They say that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. 

Three days ago, I scrounged through my email for a correspondence concerning an electronic, unofficial copy of my college transcript, a necessary piece of my upcoming submission packets to various universities. I didn't find the email, though I did find the file. I also found other conversations with people concerning my last attempt at this grad-school endeavor.

I want to say I was much younger, though it's only been a few years. I had searched diligently for a creative writing MFA program that did not require the GRE. I sent off for letters of recommendation, I pushed and shoved my various ducks into a row. I unearthed old contacts and summoned my resolve. I made a final decision based on friends I had staying in the area. 

As it turned out, there was a dispute with my alma mater. Transcripts weren't sent, the window closed. My friends even moved out of the area. At the time, I was crushed, amazed at how many obstacles could be erected in front of me, seemingly out of thin air. I was angry, and I was hurt, and for a while, I was defeated. 

This is Part Two. This time I did not avoid taking the Graduate Records Examination. I researched it, and I stalked it. I arranged myself mentally for the reality that I would take it, and that I would achieve satisfactory marks. My mind tempered so, the situation became a kind of solid fact. Like one day I woke up and remembered that I could fly.

On Monday, I stood up from a desk ordered within a sterile cubicle, and looked around to see that I was alone in a room filled with rows of the same gray square I was sprouting from. I was alone, but the same wasn't true three hours and forty six minutes previous. For some reason, I wanted to pretend that I and those other people weren't strangers, that I still knew something about how the world was. But the test proved otherwise, that it was different, that I was different, that graduate school would be different than that of the levels of education that occurred before. I guess it only makes sense that if anything would be a changing experience, it would be a test.

Since then, I've been in contact with various schools, and I have ahead of me some writing to do, to prove my worth as a student to the point that they not only accept me, but grant me financial aid. One school's website is quoted as saying that upwards to 50 people might be competing for 6 open spots. I think the me of those years ago might have wondered if I was good enough. The me of today is pondering other possibilities. For instance what new friends I might meet in a place where I know no one.

In addition to those scholarly things I am to write, I was also told about Amazon's new creative studio. Following in the lucrative footsteps of Hulu and Netflix, the market giant will be creating their own shows for amazon-only customers to subscribe to. Very intelligently, they are casting nets for creative ideas among the public, offering substantive rewards for interesting treatments and scripts. I had a few ideas, and a friend actually reminded me of others I've had in the past that I had even forgotten about. I'll be throwing my ring in the cirlce, if for no other reason than that I have rings to throw.

A better reason might be that I know myself better today than I did a week ago, what I'm capable of, and what I'm prepared to do to live my truth. It's going to be an interesting November.