2016, Archives, February 2016, The MFA Years



Facing the sixth week of term two, if I had a dime for every time I said, “man, this MFA-thingy is really getting in me way of me ole’ writing” I’d have, say, twelve sixty.

Today I was told I have a comma problem. I said I’m Canadian. The cowboy-prof laughed, chaps ajangle. They don’t use Oxford commas in Oxford and slipping non-existent punctuation into quotes is as stupid as owning a gun. When Trump gets my vote, I might change my mind, if it still works.

Tax time approaches, I’m afraid to log into accounts. But the G-men are docking my funding at thirty-five percent. Emails go unanswered. Deadlines and deadline and deadlines are met or discarded or cussed. I’ve stopped counting words and running. Now I count the minutes. I’ve started the William Shatner diet—a burrito a day at 9am. Keeps the healthcare away.

I’m taking editing and style, fiction and non. I’ve started reading in the shower. Of course, my eyes are bigger than my belly and my calendar never syncs. I pity my students but not myself. The inter-library-loan folks got me on speed-dial. This late-book has shampoo on the cover. The mind expands, I just pray in the right direction. Yes, I worry the cookie-cutter is sharp.

An empty plane seat. A political statement. Find Bali on a map. Yes, right beside Belize. This country is a glorious bubble ready to burst. The exit may be behind you.

And then between the emails and meetings and conferences and posts and deadlines and lesson plans and deadlines and uploads and downloads and commas and deadlines and colons… you read …and so it goes until the vista includes only displacement of feeling back to the body, which gave birth to the feelings that don’t sit comfortably inside the communal. You smile dumbly at the world because you are still feeling if only the feeling could be known and this brings on the moment you recognize as desire.

 And you wish you could write like her. And are happy to wake up and try.

So as you wait for acceptance or rejection, read and write and edit and read more, because the moment fleets and feelings evaporate with every tick-ticking second of doubt.

Inner stillness is needed to write well.

An MFA program won’t help with that.

It will help with plot, persona, genre, self-and-non-self-characterization, reflection, design, reckoning, turning-point, groundwork, rising-action, rewriting, margin notes, personal responses, semi-colon-understanding, submitting, word-processing, lecturing, publishing, editing, prose, verse, tips, endings, and getting shit done on time.

Plus there are all those lovely people you meet.

Speaking of time, when you need it, go to nature. There is time in a tepee. That, I know.



Coda: Blogging is pleasant, you can break all the rules you’ve just learnt.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.