Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Group Lanuch and More Rejection News

Serif's first meeting was Monday night. It went pretty well and much quicker than I anticipated. However, no one really had any questions so it was mostly just me talking. I think most people were excited about it, besides the one person who did not seem to be taking a valid interest. But perhaps he/she already submits enough on their own and thought this was a different type of group. Well wishes to them and I hope to expand the group's vision eventually but starting out I think its important to be narrowly focused. Baby steps. We have our next meetings set and I gave everyone homework. It is really something everyone should be doing anyways, I asked that they bring in a literary journal to the next meeting. I wanted everyone to suggest different magazines to submit to and use it as a launching pad to great discussions and decisions about what their focus is going to be this semester. The turnout was very good too. I think it was about 12 people give or take those who could not make it or stay the entire time. I am feeling pretty good so far and excited to get to work!

Now the second part of my header today. Today at work I got my self-addressed envelope back for my poetry submission. I did not even feel like opening it. But I did! Just in case my assumption was wrong and it was a great welcome to the published world packet. Though I had high hopes I pouted for a half a second and then became excited to turn the poem around to another magazine. What magazine you ask? TBD. Perhaps I'll use my group to get the poems back out there. More to come later.

Lastly, a brief morsel about my first class this semester. The program has now hired two new fiction professors, finally! Not that I do not value the fiction professor I have taken for my last two fiction classes, but I am ready for a new perspective. And may I say I am tickled about their selection. (Well one half of the selection - to be fair I've only met one of them) Professor Levin is a quality addition to the program. He is serious, tough, and has high expectations. This is not to say he is not delightful either. He began class by matching our names with our faces he Internet stalked (self admitted). He also set some very good ground rules to our semester workshop I believe these rules will make this workshop one of the best I have taken at RU so far. First, everyone must read every piece twice one for enjoyment and one for line editing. Second, everyone must have something to say in workshop and not just "I raised my hand and spoke, now I can pretend not to listen." But he insists what we say is composed of quality, thoughtfulness, and aimed at bettering the overall piece. These all may seem very natural and expected requirements of any workshop taken, but is often not expressed out loud. It is rather left to be assumed by all involved. Needless to say, I am looking forward to the class. I am not however, excited that I have to submit the first week. Between working overtime for the past three weeks, moving, and barely sleeping, producing a quality story in one weeks time is stressful. I gave myself a 500 word count goal each day, starting yesterday, to get it finished in time. Day one - success! Day two - I am distracting myself from getting started. But I must make it!

Friday, January 22, 2010

New Endeavor

Big news. Well maybe not big but feels big. I have an active mind that keeps me wake late into the night all too often. I have started a new student-run organization called Serif. (Thank you sis for the name) It is a group focused on submitting original works frequently. Or rather, helping students to dive in and sink into the writing lifestyle. People go to grad school for all types of reasons. I went to grad school because I knew I needed structure, deadlines, and consequences to help me reach my goals of what I wanted out of life. I wanted to be a writer. But I lacked the discipline to make the time to consistently sit down and write. Grad school also gave me inspiration and information on how to and when to submit. Yet, all the presentations in the world did not help me revise with publishing purpose or get my manuscripts in the mail any faster.
So after I slapped myself on the hands for the last time, I made a plan. I wanted to create a forum where we as students can hold each other accountable for making it as writers. When one of us succeeds its good news for all of us! Plus, if more of the students in the program start submitting the chances of publication increases and so does the credibility of the program. My goals here are far reaching for everyone. Because if nothing at all comes of this the students in the program have another outlet for community building. The initial response of interest is slow coming. However, kingdoms weren't built in one day. I am happy to have some very good people in place to help me and the support of my family and friends in my endeavor. I will know if I truly succeeded in a couple years if this program is still in operation long after I have gone and if more like it have sprung up. The first meeting is Monday, January 25th at 5pm. I will be back with updates!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Round two

I've recently submitted again. Which is very exciting for me because I switched genres this time. I chose to submit four different poems I originally wrote a year ago. That kind of time in between revisions truly lets a writer get down to busy fast. All the initial attachments to the work is gone and I can see the lines, words, and images as a first time reader might. This also enables me to have a fast turn around. This might be the way I work best - fast turn arounds. All that pressure to meet the deadline narrows down and makes me expect serious results from myself. There is no "I'll get to that part tomorrow," or "I'll come back to that when I think about it more." This submission is different from the previous because it is requested to be done through ground mail. Thus, requiring a cover letter. I am not a fan of cover letters. True I am a writer and should be able to handle this without much distress, but the truth is quite contrary. It's almost as nerve wrecking as revising my work. A poor cover letter practically ruins your chances before the editor reads your work. I just keep mine very simple and to the point. One paragraph and I am done. Hopefully, that encourages the editor to jump straight to my work.

I am pretty optimistic about anything in life and so it is natural for me to feel pretty good about this submission. I am not positive about the response time, but hopefully I will be so involved in finishing my thesis I forget all about it until the good news circles back around. Cross your fingers for me.

Monday, January 4, 2010

"Did I work Today?"

Today is a rough day. It is one of those days I am reminded that I am not anywhere near where I thought I would be in life. This of course is a good and bad thing. Bad because I feel deflated and like I am running in place. Good because the playing field is still wide open and has many paths to choose from. But I still feel a little down. Then I found an old handout from one of my workshop professors Joshua Henkin entitled "Letter to a Young Writer." The letter is mostly comprised of his Ten Commandments to young writers but also gives honest advice and perspective. It reminds me to remember that any serious attempt to live and work as a writer is a very tough and beautiful thing. That the only question worth asking each day is "did I work today?" This is important because there are many days that I can't answer that question in the affirmative. That is my only failure. Where I am in life compared to where I thought I'd be will very rarely match up. However, if I can work everyday at where I want to be then I am successful. I am successful because by making time everyday my end goals can only be closer to being reached. Thank you J. Henkin. And yes, today I put in work.