Last night, as many of you who keep tabs on the goings on in my life outside the professional realm know, was the open house for the 2010 applications to Hunter’s Creative Writing MFA program. After the disappointing results of last year’s application, I am ready and primed and pumped and revved about this year’s round. It was not nearly as severe of information-overload as last year, which is nice. Many of the things I wrote about here were confirmed by faculty and student alike. I need to allow for the natural tendencies and rawness and voice in my writing to “jump off the page” as they were fond of saying last night. The Black Laser provides plenty of evidence that this is not a problem for me. On a(n almost) daily basis I write for you, my loyal legion of followers and well-wishers, in a voice that I think rather adeptly echoes the way I speak. Probably fewer “fucks”, but whatever. The trick—not that it’s a trick, more of an approach, really—with my fiction will be not to work it so hard that I end up neutering the natural cadence and flow of the words. I need to edit for clarity and mistakes, but not worry that something might come off as too TOO, you know what I mean? See that sentence? I probably need to edit it for clarity, but fuck it. My writing needs to be functional and raw and exciting; polish can come later.
Last year I imposed hiatus on myself and then worked exclusively on one piece for months—thinking, writing, rewriting, and revising an idea I’d had while sitting at brunch with Juli some months before. It ended up being a very limiting process for me and didn’t allow me to play around with the piece as I ought to have. And I think the piece suffered for it, as I described in my previous post on the topic.
This year I intend to approach this creative submission process differently. I also have a number of things going for me this year over last year. First, I’m freelance, meaning I have more flexibility in deciding my schedule if I need to. Of course, if works comes up, I’ll take it, because The Black Laser can’t live off lightning and fear. Even he needs to eat. Second, I have the experience of the process last year to inform the decisions I make this year. Third, I don’t have to worry about getting my transcripts and letters of recommendation again. If I have to apply a third time, I will, but let’s think about that if that happens, yes? Fourth, and most importantly, I have the perfect venue for trying out ideas for my final piece—The Year of 5000 Photos and 50 Short Stories.
Oh, right, remember that? A quick check in the right hand column will show that I’ve made admirable progress on my photos, but my poor stories have languished. Poor stories. And, with fewer than 60 days left in 2009 (where has it gone?!), if I’m to live up to my end of the bargain, I need to get going.
From here on out, I will be writing every night, at least 500 words. If I can do more than that, I will, but 500 will be my minimum. I often get stuck thinking, “Man, I have nothing to write about. Where are the ideas?” and I get all hung up and stupid and don’t do anything. For the rest of the year, if I have nothing new to write about, I will rewrite old ideas or someone else’s ideas or ideas I thought were dumb, just to keep my fingers moving. If I am not working, then I will try and do two rounds of 500 words, one first thing in the morning, followed by a walk, and then another 500 hundred. Quality is less important than producing regularly. If I am able to crank out 47 more short stories this year, then somewhere within that body I will have something worth editing or turning into something more for the purpose of the application due February 1, 2010.
Come the new year I am going to turn my attention toward getting the personal statement finished and whipping the creative submission into shape. I haven’t forgotten my idea of reading the first 20-25 pages of books either, mind you, but I might have to push that back until after 1/1/10. January will be a busy month for me trying to get all this stuff done, but I can do it. I can DO IT. I mean, the one student last night has two children, 3 and 6 months, a full time job, a husband, and still manages to get her MFA work done. Impressive. I’m not even committing to CLOSE to that kind of schedule. I can do it!
Don’t forget that I have to fit The Frontiersman’s Wife in here too. At the very least, baseball will be over soon and that time sink won’t be around to distract me anymore.
We have embarked on an exciting end-of-2009, Black Laserites! Keep reading!