Saturday, August 16, 2008

intimate details part one: thesis, my novel, poetry, & a writer's life

back at the end of july i met with my advisor at hamline, deborah, to talk about thesis. i've been enrolled in hamline's mfa program since spring semester 2002. so it's been six plus years now, definitely time to graduate and move on. once i get my mfa i'll be able to teach writing at the college level, which is exciting. i won't be giving up my full time job, but i'd give up my group home job (well, go on call, not QUIT quit). teaching would be a great stepping stone for getting me to where i want to be.

granted, i have a really great job at the insurance company. i like my coworkers, my job itself is challenging & rewarding, & i have great benefits (401K, wonderful health insurance, close to home, & lots of other little perks...i even recently referred my sister & she started this past monday!) but even with all of that, it's not what i want to do for the rest of my life. IF i really wanted to i know that i could climb the corporate ladder, & probably have a very fulfilling life, but it would really be a half life.

yes yes yes, i've said all this before. or, if i haven't, i've thought it before. & it would be easy to go along that path & let writing become a hobby. blog now & again & leave it at that. i came to a crossroads back in july, actually due to a conversation with my boyfriend, E.

i was hanging out with E at his place in his studio & we were talking about art & the longevity of different artists after their death. we were talking about musicians, writers, painters, sculptures, etc. & then we were talking about him & his relationship to his painting, & then my relationship to me & my writing. & he said to me:
"so writing is a hobby for you?"
the boy has no idea how close he came to getting hit. seriously hit. i didn't hit him because a: i'm not, by nature, a violent person. & b: i don't hit those i love, even if i want to. my response was:
he then asked me what it [my writing] is to me. & i told him what i've felt all along, ever since i was a child & i learned the power in words & in building a world, a universe, a galaxy from the simple tool of letters & imagination.
"it's my passion, it's my love, it's what i want to do."

& then E told me to do it then. he said while i have a great job at the insurance company, it'll never give me what i want. & he's right. it's something i've told myself for a while. something i've known for a while. sometimes it's easy to discredit someone when they say things like that, especially if you can convince yourself they don't know what they're talking about. but E knows. he's a painter, a comic book artist, & he pretty much makes a living doing that. supplementing that with teaching, but he knows what he's talking about. & i can't argue.

so i made an appointment with deborah to figure this all out. get thesis done & get on with my life. i met with her in july. she basically told me she would support me in whatever i choose to do. yeah, ball back in my court. so then i met with her again on august 8th, about four weeks after our first meeting. i told myself that i would work as hard as i could on my novel in that time, see what i could get done. my goal was to do ten pages a day, i had 23 days to do it. & if i could do that, then i'd go ahead with both projects, if i couldn't, then i'd go forward with just the poetry for my MFA. in those 23 days i did not get 230 pages done, but i got 60 done. in the previous years i'd been working on the novel i'd only managed to get about 50 done. i had kept reworking those same damn 50 pages. in 23 days i'd doubled the amount of story i had to work with. not 230 pages, but i proved to myself that i could do it.

i'll be meeting with my second reader, larry, in september to go over what i have done. right now i'm trying to get my novel completed. i have more reasonable goals, a minimum of 3 pages a day, but hoping to do more like 5 to 10. i'm not saying the novel has to be good, the fucker just has to be DONE. one of my good friends steph is also reading my novel, as i finish it. everyday i bring pages to her, & if i don't bring her pages she has my full permision to harass me about it. & i feel so good. so fucking good!

right now my characters are taking on a life of their own. what i had planned seems to be going awry, so i'm not making plans anymore. i sit down at my computer & i write & go with it. the characters are not turning out to be the people i thought they were, & i love it! i don't even know anymore if the novel will end the way that i thought it would, but i'm ok with that. it's a great ride right now. i wake up before work, write while i drink my coffee & my ferrets run. i come home & let the ferrets run while i eat my dinner, then i sit down & write again. it is so fucking fabulous!

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