Wednesday, April 10, 2013


So much happy.

I'm not sure if I'm sleeping better because I'm walking more, or if I'm walking more because I'm getting more sleep.

Who cares. Life is good.

And this week is a kind of I'll eat you up, I love you so book feast that's making my eyes a little dry but my soul so... so... so... filled up?

I'm having a moment in grad school where I feel myself becoming more aware of what it is I want to do. What it is I'm supposed to do. And it's not that I feel like I have all the skills yet or that I have answers or the knowledge of how to get there, but I see a direction that's for me. I've had months when I didn't think that was ever going to be the case. I think about where I was the day I thought yeah, MFA, I'm going to sit down and figure out how to apply for that, I was so far from a direction. I feel possibility, today.

Two school-related epiphanies, right now. Not that I'm sure anyone is that interested in my academic realizations, but I would like to be able to look back on this and see how and when I came to know some of these things.

1) I love critical work. I want to shout it from the rooftops. Book reviews. Essays. Criticism. I want to make my house out of those and live in it, Internet. It didn't surprise me that it felt comfortable to write all those essays. For Pete's sake, that's what I talk about all day. But I noticed early on in my program that the thing most people were dreading was the thing I most loved to do. And for a long time I wasn't sure what to do with that little secret. We have to write anywhere from 2-4 essays a month about what we're reading, and I found myself thrilled to sit down to the computer for those. Genuinely excited. I was embarrassed to admit it at first, when the focus of my program is supposed to be our creative writing, and I was worried it would make me look like I was less than serious about my main objective. But my perspective on all of that is changing. In the last six months or so (thanks to the shepherding of some amazing professors) I've come to look at reviewing, at criticism, as its own kind of creative endeavor. I've been reading my first collection of reviews and it's like a door opened. This has to mean something, this excitement I feel about this thing. I'm hungry to read more, to write more. To learn more.

2) I've realized as recently as the last two months that I don't hate short stories. What a stupid thing for an English teacher to admit in writing, right? (Because in admitting, she thus also admits to notsomuch ever having enjoyed them--the horror!) But short stories never really served a purpose in my life. I was a novel girl. All my old friends in stories lived in longer works, and it was those longer works that taught me about getting lost in other worlds. When I started this MFA program and tried to write my first short stories, my only experience with them was really in what I'd taught to high school kids. You know the stuff: shitty, bland stories chosen by a committee to go in a textbook because they make it easy to teach standard blah point blah. Not great stories. Not weird stories. Not the kind that kick you in the gut and then run you over with a car and then come back to hit you with a baseball bat and ask you why you're crying. Having had the chance to read all manner of short stories in the last year (including the kind that abuse their readers, as mentioned above, plus loads and loads that were just fun), I feel so much more like they're a wonderful little exploration of everything a story can be, or do. And I feel like they don't have to be so serious--they can be--but God, so many people are breaking the rules in so many cool ways that it rocks my socks.

And this is life, right? Walking your dog and BBQing chicken for dinner, and then wrapping yourself up in a quilt on your bed so you can devour more words, make them a part of yourself.

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