Monday, July 31, 2006

The countdown is on

One week til my MFA submissions are due. AHHHHH! I have SO much work to do this week. I need to come up with a new schedule to make sure I get everything done. So here goes:

Monday (today): work on 1st person version of story. Hopefully finish first draft.
Tuesday: Proof and finalize submission for pedagogy elective.
Wednesday: edit story. Think about: themes--are they brought up early and effectively? Scene--Is every scene fulfilling its purpose? Sentences--is there good rhythm? are long/short sentences used for a reason? Word choice: be careful of repitions.
Thursday: Proof and finalize reading critiques.
Friday: Proof story. Write cover letters. Mail packets!!!

MFAers--do you know if we're supposed to have our stuff to our advisor by the 6th, or is it OK to mail it on the 6th? That would give me a much-needed extra day. :) Best Blogger Tips

Friday, July 28, 2006

Sunday Scribblings: My two cents

I'm happy to get to this Sunday scribbling on Friday, since this weekend will be a busy one, with a friend in town from the West coast, an all day folk concert to hit tomorrow, and a friend's baby shower on Sunday. So, here goes.

Just My Two Cents
I say it when I'm not confident in whatever will precede or follow.
I say it to mask the fact that whatever I said is important to me.
I say it to mask the fact that whatever I said should be important to you.
I say it to blunt criticism you need to hear.
I say it when I don't want to seem pushy, even though that's exactly what I want to be.
I say it too often. Best Blogger Tips

Frustrated Friday

I'm feeling so anxious about my story today. I really just want to be done with it. One of the things that's frustrating is that in writing, you're never really done. There's always more you can do, which makes it compelling, but also difficult! And I'm never sure if I'm giving it my all. Without a distinct stopping point, it's hard to tell! Best Blogger Tips

Thursday, July 27, 2006

A great quote

I'm currently reading Phillip Roth's Everyman. While I'm not sure that I would recommend the book--it's a little heavy on exposition, light on scene for my taste (which, ironically, is the major problem in my own work)--I did just come across a brilliant line. The main character is talking to his painting students and he says, "Amateurs wait for inspiration. The rest of us get to work." I love that because really, if we all sat around waiting for something to inspire us, to be in the mood for writing/editing/what have you, then we'd be doing much more waiting than writing. The quote also makes a point that writing is a lot more work than most people imagine. It's not like the inspiration goddess comes and annoints us everyday and we just type her words. Best Blogger Tips

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Revise, revise, revise

I'm working on what seems like the 100th revision of my short story, but is probably really only the 3rd draft. As an exercise, I'm rewriting the story in the first person, to get Susan's voice down better. It seems to be working. I'm getting much more of a feel for her, and she's a different person than I originally thought--a little tougher, rougher around the edges. I like her. :) Best Blogger Tips

Monday, July 24, 2006

One good thing about being an adult...

...the fact that when you're having a poopey Sunday, you can decide to have ice cream for dinner, which is exactly what I did last night. Best Blogger Tips

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Sunday Scribblings: Thief

Here's a meloncholy post for an overcast Sunday.

Who took my carefree days? When I slept until 11, loafed in my pajama for another few hours, ate dry cereal because I ran out of milk, and then when out to get a few beers with some friends. When I didn't worry at all. When I really believed and lived the stuff in those self-help books that said no matter what your circumstances, you have the choice to be happy or not, choose happy. When I felt like life was as vast as the ocean that I went to visit at least once a week. When I didn't worry about what I'd be when I grew up because that day was so far in the future I couldn't even see it with binoculars.

Who took them? I guess that would be me. The me that worries too much and sleeps too little. The me that never runs out of milk. The me that doesn't see so much choice in her emotions any longer. The me that hasn't been swimming all summer and feels much too much too grown up. Best Blogger Tips

Friday, July 21, 2006


OK, so now that I know what I have to do, I have to figure out how to do it. Here's where you come in, dear readers. Do you have any ideas as to how to write dialogue that's distinct to each character? Exercises, suggestions on people to read, etc. will all be greatly appreciated! Best Blogger Tips

Short story workshopped

My writers' group workshopped my short story last night and gave me some ubber-helpful comments. My main tasks in this revision are:

  • Make the dialogue more distinct to the characters
  • Get the themes straight from the beginning
  • Make Harold and Susan's relationship progress a little slower so as to be more realistic.
OK, I've got my marching orders, now I just have to figure out how to march!

But the best part of having the story workshopped was learning that, for the first time ever, I've created a short story that actually ends! Whoo-hoo! Best Blogger Tips

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

A very productive evening

(Also known as why it is a good thing that Brian and I are in grad school at the same time)

Brian is in class on Monday and Wednesdays, so I can do work at night without feeling the pull of his presence, which is stronger than the pull of my computer on most days. Tonight I got an early jump on the evening when I got home a little before 5 when a doctor's appointment ran short. So after having a very nice walk with Chloe (sadly, the only exercise I'm getting lately), I wrote and wrote and wrote. Here's a list of the things I accomplished. I will refer to this list the next time I feel bad about not getting enough done.

  1. I did the writing exercise that I posted below
  2. I revised my first craft annotation thanks to some feedback from some very generous fellow MFAers.
  3. I started my second craft annotation
  4. I wrote a draft of my second "pretend class" presentation.
Now I will eat a mango and watch bad, bad TV. I think I deserve some mindless entertainment. Best Blogger Tips

Names dilemma, part 2

I walk my dog, Chloe, in a cemetary park near my house. I know it sounds weird, but the Forest Hills Cemetary is my favorite place in Boston--it has a lake, sculptures, and lots of neat flowers and trees, as well as graves that date back to the 1800s. And some literary figures like Anne Sexton and ee cummings are buried there. I was walking there this afternoon and I started reading the names off the gravestones. Doing so made me think about my characters' names, and, per FC's brilliant idea, I thought I'd post some names I was considering in the hopes that readers would give me feedback about what you thought of when you heard the name. Here we go:

Elizabeth Best Blogger Tips


As I mentioned in an earlier post, I'm working on creating a syllabus for an as-yet pretend class that I hope to someday teach. I would love to hear comments on what people think of this progression of topics. The class will be college-level fiction, and will include some at-home reading, a short lecture, an exercise on the topic, and then a workshop. Did I miss any important topics? Are there ones I should skip?

Week 1— Introductions, Spotlight on: Beginnings

Week 2—Spotlight on: Reading as a writer

Week 3—Spotlight on: Getting to know your characters

Week 4—Spotlight on: Point of view

Week 5—Spotlight on: Dialogue

Week 6—Spotlight on: Plot

Week 7—Spotlight on: Narrative voice

Week 8—Spotlight on: Creating suspense

Week 9—Spotlight on: Metaphors and similes

Week 10—Spotlight on: Endings

Week 11—Spotlight on: Self-editing

Week 12—Spotlight on: Ways to keep yourself motivated/connected to a writerly environment Best Blogger Tips

Falling behind

I was just looking over the schedule I posted here a while back (re my MFA program), and I realize I'm falling behind. I need to get a draft of my 2nd craft annotation and my 2nd class for my syllabus done by this weekend. I plan to do the craft anno tonight, and I guess I'll start the 2nd class soon. I'm finding it hard to be motivated on my interdisciplary project. Creating a syllabus for a fake class isn't as engaging as I thought it'd be. Any of my fellow MFAers in this boat? Best Blogger Tips

Two wrongs rarely make a right

This exercise is thanks to JVS, who posted a writing game on her blog where people postedtwo sentences for others to use as the first and last in a story. Here are the sentences I got:

It was the way he looked at me.


Two wrongs rarely make a right.

And here's my writing:

It was the way he looked at me that made me walk over and sit at his table. He was alone, I was alone, and there were no other seats open in the entire bar. The look--given with his smile, with his eyes--was friendly, but not lascivious. It was the look I'd give a friend. Though I should've known that at night, in a bar, no look is that innocent.
"Come here often?" he joked. "I'm Michael."
"Kate," I said. "You don't mind if I join you?" Michael flagged down the waitress in response. I ordered a Corona, the only beer I liked and one that would help me forget the hot, humid air I had come here to escape.
I got down Michael's basics before my beer arrived: he was a consultant, in town for a meeting, staying at the hotel next door. He was from Tampa, so the current heatwave in Boston was nothing to him.
Halfway through my beer, he was still talking and had yet to ask me a single question. And my story was quite interesting, if I do say so myself. I was in town trying to solve my newest client's case: a Duxbury woman's husband had disappeared. She suspected foul play--on his part. He had cheated before, but had come back begging forgiveness after she kicked him out. She gave him another chance and six months later, poof, gone. She thought he might be staying at a hotel in Boston, so I had been scouting them out for the last few days, asking questions of the clerks, roaming the halls, checking out the bars, the pool, the computer rooms. No sign of him yet, but I had a feeling.
I finished my beer, and reached into my purse for my wallet.
"You're leaving?" Michael asked.
"Yeah, I have a long night ahead of me. Thanks for sharing your table." I slapped down a ten dollar bill and slung my purse over my shoulder.
"We could go to my room for another drink," Michael said.
"That's sweet, but I'm married," I lied.
"I am, too," Michael said, holding up his left hand.
I turned away. I looked back and said, "Two wrongs rarely make a right."

Best Blogger Tips

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Character names

I have a new idea for a story (thanks to the $5 diet coke I bought at Fenway, which then kept me up all night, thinking of story ideas). But I'm stuck on naming my characters, a male and a female. So I thought I'd poll the blogosphere and see how people come up with character names. What's your method? Best Blogger Tips

Monday, July 17, 2006


I'm disappointed in myself for not sticking to my write everyday schedule. I'm still getting work done, but I think it'd be better if I were writing more, just letting myself go, instead of focusing so much on one story. Ok, enough beating myself up. I'm off to see the Red Sox! (If I don't melt...) Best Blogger Tips

Little big mouth

I'm trying to work on the end of my story, but my editor is in FULL FORCE. The little voice in my head keeps screaming, "But where is this going? Is that really going to help the story along?" God I hate her whiney little voice. Anyone have an open can of beer I can drown her in? Best Blogger Tips

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Sunday Scribbling: Baggage

I'm liking this Sunday Scribblings thing. I forgot how awesome it feels to freewrite, no editing, no judgements (or, at least in my case, fewer judgements. That critic in my head is fierce!)
So here's my piece. It doesn't end, but whatever.

Oh, and I thought I would post the brainstorming I used to get to my story idea.

Baggage=loaded word
Baggage=something that's undesirable to bring to a relationship, though it's also something that everyone brings to a relationship
Baggage=excitement of packing
Baggage=different packing styles
Baggage=mom always asking if I'm going to buy new clothes for trips.

"Do you need new clothes?" This is the first question out of my mom's mouth when I tell her I'm going to Seattle to visit my college roommate.
Though I know to anticipate the question, it still annoys me. My mom loves to shop. She seems to truly believe she "needs" new clothes for every occassion, especially trips. Like she couldn't find a suitable outfit in the two closets worth of clothes that hang in what used to be my and my younger brother's bedroom.
"No, mom," I sigh. "Seattle's about the same temperature. I can wear there what I wear here."
"But still..." No matter how many times we have this conversation, she doesn't seem to care to grasp the fact that I don't like buying stuff for the sake of buying stuff (well, most of the time, anyway). And that even if I did, I'm on a budget, a word she will never understand the meaning of. How she managed to go 60 something years without knowing the state of her and my father's checking account amazes me.
"What suitcase will you bring?" she asks. Why she would care about such a trivial detail, I don't know. I do know I need to get off the phone soon, before I can no longer disguise the annoyance in my voice.
"The red one I got for my wedding."
"That small one? How will you fit all your stuff?"
"I don't like to check any baggage," I say. "It wastes too much time."
"Always in a hurry. I'll never understand you kids." Best Blogger Tips

A day off is very productive!

Brian came up with a great way to spend this ridiculously hot day: we'd go to UMass Boston, where he's a student. The campus is on the water, and therefore cooler and very pretty. He sat inside the student center working while Chloe and I sat outside picnicing, playing ball, napping, and reading. Though this wasnt' a true day off because I did read a bunch of craft books and a book assigned by my advisor, it still felt like one and I wasn't thinking about my story at all. And of course, it's then that I discover what's wrong with it! Thinking about the concept of the denouement (sp?), I realized that I rushed mine. The climax happens right at the end of the story, and neither the characters nor the reader has time enough to process it before the story ends. I love it when I can be lazy and get work done. Best Blogger Tips

Friday, July 14, 2006

More pressure

I'm submitting a draft of my short story to my writer's group today. I know it blows, but I'm sure feedback will help. Though now I feel like I need to resolve at least the first layer of issues today! Best Blogger Tips

Thursday, July 13, 2006

If you ever feel bad about your analogies...

...Check out this link. Granted they're from high school kids so I shouldn't be so snarky, but they really are awful (in an amusing way): Best Blogger Tips

Has the rain drowned my energy?

It's downpoured off and on all week. The rain seemed to have washed away my energy--for writing and anything else. I just want to crawl up in a ball under my desk and nap next to the warm fumes of my space heater (my office is always freezing in the summer). Or maybe it's just that I'm dreading revising for some reason? Best Blogger Tips

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Revising, part I

Though I was EXHAUSTED last night (I haven't been sleeping well, and I LOVE to sleep), I made myself take a look at my draft and identify the major problems. Being able to work while lying down is the best thing about a laptop, in my opinion.

Here's what I found:
  1. Descriptions need some fleshing out, especially descriptions of places and characters' looks.
  2. Dialogue needs major work, particularly in the more "heated" scenes. I can't get conflict to sound real (maybe that's because--or why?--I avoid it so fervently in my real life)
  3. The ending! Well, the story doesn't completely end yet. The basic is that through what Susan learns from Harold, she decides to give her marriage another shot. She basically learns that she is afraid of really trying because she might fail. I've tried to draw that out through other things, like her being afraid to take over her mom's garden for the same reason. But I'm not sure how to show this epiphany she has about her marriage without being either heavy handed or much too subtle.
Anybody have ideas as to how to work on any or all of these problems? Stories where you love the dialogue/description/ending? Exercises to do to help? Best Blogger Tips

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Almost done with 1st draft!

I can't even tell you how happy I am to be in my MFA program. I loved my residency SOOO much, and now I'm loving having a deadline to get my work done. And all this obsessing about writing has certainly quieted down some of the craziness I had been feeling earlier in June (worries, stress, etc.). I guess my obsessive personality has found a new outlet.

Last night, I basically finished the first draft of my short story! I have it all written out in a very basic, get-to-the-story way. Now I need to revise, revise, revise. Best Blogger Tips

Contest Announcement

I read about this and wanted to share it with my Boston area readers:

Announcing The Improper Bostonian Fiction Contest 2006. Every year, The Improper Bostonian runs a short fiction contest and publishes the winning story in its annual fall Literary Issue. The Improper Bostonian is looking for original works of fiction, no more than 3,000 words--and the story can't have been previously published. The deadline is July 25, 2006, and the author has to live in the Boston area. Writers should submit a cover letter and two copies of their story to:
Fiction Contest
The Improper Bostonian Magazine
142 Berkeley St., 3rd Fl
Boston, MA 02116 Best Blogger Tips

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Good night!

Another weekend come and gone. I'm trying to gear up for the week ahead--I packed my lunch and am about to pick out tomorrow's outfit. This week writing is going to be a little tough to fit in. I usually only walk my dog, Chloe, 2-3 weekday mornings/week, and Brian does the rest. He has some major back problems that will probably need surgery at some point soon :((((, and his back is acting up. Which sucks on a lot of levels, obviously, but it also means that I'll be losing 2-3 hours of morning time since I'll be on Chloe-duty full time this week. Good thing she's so damn cute. Best Blogger Tips

Why hasn't anyone invited me to a pool party today?

I'm sitting on my back porch, sweating and writing/surfing the web (I accidently found out I can "borrow" my upstairs neighbor's WiFi connection. A BAD thing since before I knew this, I couldn't goof off when I left my internet connection in our study.) My next door neighbors have a pool, and I hear their kids romping in it. Why oh why haven't they invited me over??? Anybody have a pool they want to invite me to? I have some sunblock and some wine I can bring over... Best Blogger Tips

Sunday Scribblings

(Thanks to poetmom for introducing me to this site!)

As a kid, my family travelled only to places within driveable distances from our NY home--Washington D.C., Lake George, even Florida a few times. All five of us smushed into one hotel room--usually with me on the cot since I was the smallest kid and the only girl. I remember the hotels we stayed in much more vividly than the cities we visited. The most important part of any hotel was the pool--was it indoor or out? Did it allow toys? Was there a lifeguard?

Everyday, after swimming for hours until our lips turned blue and our extremities wrinkled, we'd come back to the room and talk about where we would go for dinner, and what mini golf course/ice cream shop/drive in movie we'd go to after that. Every night I would BEG to be allowed to order room service. "It's a rip off!" my dad would shout. But what did I know about how much things cost? $4 for a bagel seemed reasonable to me. And besides, someone brings you food that you can eat in bed in your bathing suit while watching cable TV! Who cares about the price!

He never let me get room service, not even french fries or a soda. And now, every time I travel for business, and even sometimes when I travel with Brian, I'll order a ridculously overpriced sandwhich, and marvel at the fact that I can eat it in bed, even in my bathing suit if I like. Best Blogger Tips

Friday, July 07, 2006

What next? Plot troubles!

Clearly I'm having a slow day at work today since I'm posting so much... But I'm at a crossroads in my short story I'm working on, and I need to brainstorm for ideas. Here's the basics: Susan's mom has just passed away. She is going through her mom's stuff and she finds a datebook with "H" and a time written on various days. The other dates have more explicit things written next to them (ie: Dr. Frank, 2; or lunch with Mary), so the vague entries pique her curiosity. She evenutally figures out it stands for Harold, a guy with whom she had an awkward exchange at her mom's funeral. She tracks him down and they meet at a diner. He tells her that he and his mom were just really good friends. It comes out that they were actually in love with each other, but didn't do anything physical.

OK, so that's where I'm at. Susan's marriage is in trouble, and I assume that the end of the story will be when somehow her talks with Harold help her figure out what to do. I'm pretty sure they will meet multiple times.

Brainstorming: What could happen?
  • He could get Susan to talk about her marriage somehow.
  • They could reminisce together about June (S's mom)
  • He could give her advice about marriage based on what June had said to him about Susan
  • She could ask him what his wife knows
  • She could yell at him
  • She could tell her dad
  • She could talk to her aunt about telling dad
  • She could not even think about telling dad until Harold/aunt asks if she will.
  • She could start crying
  • He could start crying
  • What about sis? Does she play into story at all? (It's mentioned in the beginning that she and her sister had gone through the boxes together, but so far Liz hasn't come back up)
  • They could have an affair themselves
  • He could tell her something she doesn't know, would never have guessed about her mom.
  • She could share something that he couldn't have known, from June's life before knowing Harold.
That's all I've got so far. Any other ideas? Or do you particularly like/dislike any of the list? (Note that this was brainstorming, so I didn't censor out any stupid ideas!) Best Blogger Tips


OK, I'm kinda freaking out about my MFA deadlines. I need a whole short story draft by Aug 6! AHHH! (Plus two critical responses to two books, and 1/4 of a class syllabus). So, being the anal being that I am, I think I'll make a schedule.

By July 14: Have basic plot/outline of story done. Have 1 class organized/written out. Have rough draft of one critical response, idea for the other.

By July 21: Have draft of story done. Have 2nd class organized/written out. Have rough draft of 2nd critical response done.

By July 28: Do a major-ish rewrite of story. Have 3rd class organized/written out. Review critiques and revise.

By July 31: Read story aloud, revising for sentence length, word flow, etc. Watch for repeating words (always a problem with me!)

By Aug 5: Proof story, critiques, and syllabus! Write letter to professors and mail packets.

OK, I feel slightly better. Now if only I could figure out what the heck was going to happen in the story... (Other Lesley MFAers, please tell me if I've overlooked anything) Best Blogger Tips

A day off

I didn't write yesterday morning because I had to get up much too early for a dentist's appointment. During my breaks at work, I worked on my interdisciplinary project for my MFA--a syllabus for a college-level writing class. And at night, I went to First Thursday, a night of art shows and music in the center of my town. It was a great time, and I got to hang out with some of my dog park friends who I don't see nearly enough, but... I'm feeling like I'm losing my momentum! Gotta get back to my work! I plan to write tonight. Yea! (I'm not sure if it makes me really pathetic that I'm excited to spend my Friday night in front of the computer...). Best Blogger Tips

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Writing a memoir/first-person essays?

...then check this out, from the Nieman Foundation. It has awesome articles on first-person narratives. Best Blogger Tips

Back to life...back to reality

So, on my bus to work this morning, I felt a dread settle in. I tried to think of what it could be about--I like my job enough, I was psyched to see my friends at work again. But why, oh why, can't I just stay home and write full time? (Besides that pesky mortgage, I mean.) It's such a pleasant existence, me and my characters drinking coffee between walks with my dog. What a life it would be! Damn mortgage. Best Blogger Tips

Another 20 questions

So the second important character has emerged in my story. So, it's time for another session of my new favorite writing game, 20 questions:

  1. How old are you? 55
  2. What do you do? I teach history at the school where Susan's mom works.
  3. What would you prefer to be doing? Not much. I love teaching. The students can drive you crazy but they're really rewarding.
  4. Who do you love? Susan's mom, June. My wife. Paradoxical, I know, but I do love them both. My wife and I have too much of a history for me not to love her. And June was just great. She was interested in the same stuff as me in a way my wife isn't. Reading, history, teaching. And she listened to me in a way my wife hasn't in a long time. Just for the record, June and I never did anything physical. We were just friends who loved each other, if from a distance.
  5. Wait, you want us to believe that? I don't care if you do or not. It's true. We were both married, neither of us wanted to leave our spouses, and that's really what you have to want in order to start an affair. We came awfully close sometimes--her hand would graze mine when handing me a packet of sugar for coffee and it would be hard not to grab onto it and let things progress from there. But we didn't.
  6. Never? Never.

To Be Continued (have to get ready for work now!)

Best Blogger Tips

Shitty first drafts and other 6 am anxiety attacks

I woke this morning having dreamt about all the work I have to do. Always a fun way to start the day. I meditated (first day of our bet!), which helped a little. But then I sat down to work and decided to read over what I'd already written. I knew it was a first draft, but I wasn't prepared for just how shitty it was. I'm really banking that Ann Lamott was right when she said that first drafts are the down drafts--you get it down--and second drafts arethe up drafts--you fix it up. Best Blogger Tips

Monday, July 03, 2006

Why was it so magical?

I was trying to describe last week to a friend, and though I could tell her that it was amazing, that I learned a lot, that I felt more myself than I have in a while, I couldn't explain why I felt that way. So I'm going to attempt to journal on it to see if that helps.
  • Because the people I met seemed to understand me, my fears as a writer and as a person, and why writing is so important.
  • Because we all supported each other and each other's work in a way I haven't seen in a long time.
  • Because I wasn't afraid to say what was on my mind, be it about a stupid fight I had with my husband, why I hated a seminar, or why the temperature was just perfect.
  • Because I felt included and like I belonged in a group of practical strangers.
  • Because people were honest about my work in a nice way.
  • Because I felt, for the first time in recent history, like I might, just might, be able to enjoy the process instead of feeling like I need to reach some outside goal.
  • Because afterwards, again for the first time in recent history, I was able to spend a day relaxing and not feeling like I should be doing something.

I'm sure there are a thousand others. If you've recently had an experience like mine, post and tell me why it was so great!

Best Blogger Tips

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Word Play

Brian and I just got back from seeing the movie Word Play. It was a great way to spend a hot and sultry Saturday night. My favorite part was seeing one of the puzzle makers do his thing. It was amazing to watch as he made the words fit into such specific spaces and layouts. It reminded me of the importance of finding exactly the right word, the right phrase. Though it can be frustrating to think of how long it takes to craft an individual paragraph when you think about all the rewriting that goes on. But if it takes the puzzle maker 10 hours to make a puzzle with 100 words, why wouldn't it take months and months to write a short story? Best Blogger Tips

Saturday, July 01, 2006

20 questions with my character

So one of the marvels I learned this week was to play 20 questions with your characters before you start writing about them. The list is supposed to start small and end with the biggest question you can ask, What are you afraid of? You write it in the voice of your character, using first person. Here goes. My character is a young woman who just lost her mom.

What is your name? Susan
  1. How old are you? 29
  2. What do you do? Hmm... My creator hasn't figured this one out entirely. It needs to be something fairly interesting and substantial--I'm smart--but not something super fulfilling to me. Maybe I do fundraising for a college or another type of nonprofit. The work used to really excite me, but I've become disallusioned. Another cog in the capitalist machine.
  3. What would you prefer to be doing? Drawing. Or sailing. not that I've done much of either. But they sound nice. Solitary. Interesting.
  4. Who do you love? On one level, I love my dad and sister, though we're not very close. I love my Aunt Nancy, who was very close to my mom (her sister) and is really helping me get through this. I used to love my husband, but I'm not so sure anymore. I don't have any friends who I truly love. Some I like, and others I really care about, but no one I feel connected to on that deep a level.
  5. Any regrets? Oh, tons. I'm awfully hard on myself, I know. But I regret things everyday. Small things like not leaving a minute earlier and making the subway that I saw pull away as I got to the top of the escalator. not remembering my umbrella. Never remembering my umbrella. Bigger, I regret getting married so young. I regret my part in us growing apart. I regret doing whatever it is I've done to make me feel so isolated.
  6. Dogs or cats? Both. Neither. I like both, but have neither. Though I plan to get a cat soon, no matter what happens with my marriage, but especially if I end up living alone.
  7. You sounded kind of happy when you said those last words... Yeah, though the possible breakup of any marriage is obviously awful to contemplate, I think about living alone a lot. I picture a tiny room, a cat, cereal for dinner while staring out the window onto a city street. It seems nice, romantic even. I'd play lots of classical music followed by the 80s punk I used to love but somehow stopped listening to. I'd paint the walls funky colors, maybe even have clouds on the ceiling.
  8. What's your biggest fear? Never feeling connected to people again. Forgetting to keep trying to connect. That I didn't know my mother as well as I should have, could have.
  9. What are you going to do to make sure that doesn't happen? For the former, I just don't know. Maybe reach out to my sister? Definitely to my aunt. For the latter, I know I'll go through some of mom's stuff, try to get to know different sides of her that I didn't know. What was she like at work? With her friends? With my dad when they were alone? I wish I had done this sooner, but it seems like prying when people are alive.
And here are some more, taken from a former co-worker who I recently got back in touch with, poetmom. These are the questions used for the Actor's Studio. I've only seen the show once or twice (no cable for this writer, alas), but the questions are intriguing:
  1. What is your favorite word? Secret (when it's me holding it)
  2. What is your least favorite word? Secret (when it's being held from me)
  3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Being alone. That's so sad.
  4. What turns you off? Crowds of people I don't know. Feeling stupid or unloved.
  5. What is your favorite curse word? Mother f*cker. It really packs a punch coming from someone as constrained as I am.
  6. What sound or noise do you love? Traffic. It's soothing, even the beeping, truck-rumblingness of it.
  7. What sound or noise do you hate? Myself crying
  8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Food critic, sailor
  9. What profession would you not like to do? Someone who has to give a lot of speeches.
  10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? Thank you for coming. We're so happy you could join us.
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Back from first MFA residency

Today was the last day of my first MFA in creative writing residency at Lesley University. "What is a residency?" you ask (like everyone else because it sounds a bit like a stint at rehab...). Basically, instead of going to class every week, you go for two, ten-day intensive periods a year of 13 hours of classes, workshops, and readings. Between residencies, you work one-on-one with your mentor via email and regular mail on your writing and on reading books, stories, and poems critically to enhance your craft.

The residency was more than I could've asked for. I learned more about writing in those ten days than I could've imagined. I had no idea of the depths of my ignorance on the craft of writing. I also met some of the coolest people of my life. People who seemed to get me immediately. I forgot how freeing that feeling can be, of letting down all your walls and letting people in. Better than a bubble bath.

So I have to write everyday now, in order to make my submission goal, and to get the most from my program. (Something I've been trying not so successfully for years.) So I'm hoping to use this blog to keep track of my progress. Maybe I'll even post paragraphs of my short story as it progresses. I would love to get feedback from readers, once someone finds this blog. :)

I'll also be tracking another daily project--A fellow MFAer and I made a bet to see if we could each keep a promise to ourselves to do yoga/meditate daily for 30 days. If either of us slacks, that person buys drinks for the other come January, when we'll next meet up in Boston. Best Blogger Tips