As it turns out, that last packet I was agonizing over turned out okay. But the truth remains: the semester is getting more difficult, not easier. The reason could be attributed to several factors:
- I’m generating new material. The two stories I worked on earlier in the semester were born months before and I had worked on them at a leisurely pace before starting the MFA program, and then a fevered (and more productive) pace after. The story I’m wrestling now feels more pressurized. There’s nothing leisurely about it’s production. And after I completed the fifth draft, I decided to chuck it and start at the story from a completely different angle, and I won’t know if it’ll work until it’s all over.
- I have so many ideas! I want to pursue them all at once but can’t so jot them down in an Evernote file. (Dear god I hope I don’t get hit by a bus tomorrow because I want to write these things!)
- I’m a better writer already. Now, this blog may not reveal that, but I realize that my instincts for what works and what doesn’t in a story is more sharply honed. I’d overheard someone saying this at the VCFA residency—that in their first semester they improved by leaps—and at the time I couldn’t imagine it. (Not that I thought I was that great, but you know—I’ve been putting words together a long time, what if one’s shortcomings are one’s shortcomings and that’s that? What if one is going through an MFA program for nothing?) And anyway, I think being a better writer makes a person more critical of her work, more desperate to produce something of value for her next packet. It does me, anyway.
So the fourth packet looms, and I feel behind again. Last time I took time off work to finish my packet, but I don't think I’ll be able to do that this time since I need to hoard vacation hours for the June residency.
I just finished Edward P. Jones’s incredible Lost in the City. There are so many wonderful things about this collection of stories, but I think what I’ll focus on in my critical essay is his use of foreshadowing. I’m starting The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis, and since the pages are Bible-thin I had no idea that it clocks in at over 700 pages until I looked just now. Did I mention I’m a slow reader?
I’ve worked hard on all of this today—the reading, the short story—and so I’m going to reward myself by watching Carol.
And in case you missed it, I opine about where stories come from in my last TinyLetter—and reveal that I’ve sent my first story out for rejection. (!!!)