This isn’t going anywhere…
What are you doing? More vapid, melodramatic, reality show bullshit?
Can you only write first person present tense?
This story is dumb. Really what the hell is it about?
Isn’t this the same story you have written 900 times…
Does the main character always have to reject sex and alcohol because she reads a lot of self help books and/or has a friend who acts as her shrink?
You are a one tricky pony my friend and that trick is up.
So, then I take a breath, and stop and look around, talk to my daughter–yes, she is with me today as I write at Starbucks, and let me tell you, she is a prolific story teller. She sits with her My Littlest Pet Shop figures and makes up elaborate stories about pets getting famous or two pets getting married. The greatest thing about her, though, is this total ability to being telling one story, get a little bored or off track of it and just switch it to another story. She is just having a good time. When I just stopped to take a break, I said to her, “I'm just not getting this story.” She looked at me with her enormous chocolate eyes and patted me on the shoulder, “So just stop, Mom. Do something else.” I know. I know she is right. Five year olds usually have this whole life thing down much better than grown ups.
“Just stop. Do something else.”
I finally did. But the story…no, not the story, I’m not sure I give a shit about this particular story, the idea that I can’t GET IT, that’s nagging me. I keep thinking I can get this…I just have to go back and try harder…
Really? I don’t know. I worry now that I will do what I did last semester, spend all this time, the whole semester actually rewriting one story to the point where I HATED IT. That story from last semester–I haven’t looked at it since June and have no plans to ever look at it again.
How do I know if that’s what’s happening here? I don’t hate this story, but since I started to revise it with my mentor’s feedback…I just feel like…See, I can’t even articulate what’s wrong. I’m at the wall. Looking at it as I write this. It’s a brick wall. You can’t post anything on it because nothing will stick. You can’t knock it down, and it’s tall. I can’t see the top, so I can’t go around it.
The wall doesn’t talk because– hello– it’s a wall. I want it to talk. I want it to tell me WTF has happened to me since I started school. Why does everything I have written or that I write feel sucky…? I feel disconnected from my writing. I feel like I’ve lost whatever I thought I had. Whatever connection to teenage years and the teenage mind. I feel old. I feel tired. I look back at my writing, and the only thing I really like and feel connected to is Maddie. I am so excited by the new book by the idea of going back and working on the ones that haven’t been published yet. That excites me. I feel connected to that. This short story stuff…I suck at it. More importantly, I am feeling connected to it.
I think I went to school to become the writer I thought I should be because the one I was wasn’t able to get a book contract. Maybe I thought back then, I am not literary enough. I don’t write deep beautiful books about swimming with dolphins or fantastical worlds. And I can’t seem to get the teen chic lit thing down either. My work is not enough…not enough of anything out there now. So I figured maybe I could change. I am a good student, and maybe someone can teach me how to be a real writer.
Aren’t I already a real writer?
That was kind of a major thing to write. I have never written that Truth down. Isn’t that reason–let me go to school so I can learn how to write in a way that gets me a contract–isn’t that kind of a completely unrealistic expectation– a kind of fantasy? It’s magical thinking. It’s like saying there is a certain formula that leads to publication by a major publisher and that formula can be taught in an MFA program.
I can say this with full confidence: You get an MFA because you take your writing seriously and want to push yourself to grow.
I don’t know. Now I need to sit with this realization that I have been writing since January in the hopes that I will become changed into a literary writer who might have a shot at a book deal. And I have to confront this realization too…that hope, that wish just isn’t coming true. And, I have to look at the reality of the writer I am and the writer I want to be.
*After reading Joanne's comment I realize that I left something out of this blog. I might have hoped for a possible shot at a book contract (what MFA student doesn't) but I did go into the program with the desire to grow as a writer and to add that professional credit as a writer and teacher.