#AmWriting Accounta-buddies show up and I used to be hilarious

Welcome to this week’s update on writing accountability. If you have no idea what that means, check out last Saturday’s post. Firstly, thanks to all of you. Many asked how they could help me with my goal to write. Even knowing that you might say something if I didn’t write this post kept me motivated. Here’s what happened:

On my writing retreat Facebook group, I noted that I would be going to The General Cafe on Sunday because this weekend is graduation. Not only did I walk in my college’s graduation as a faculty member, but two other schools (I’m part of a tri-campus) had their graduations, too. That’s a lot of family and friends to descend upon the area, so I figured Sunday = safe bet.

27750117_560454300956622_1721559175455650578_n
See? This is The General. Doesn’t it look chill?

No one in the group bit. I cried into my pillow, Why won’t they write with me!? Then, I got a Facebook message from one woman in the group who said that she and another guy were excited to see me Saturday at The Local Cup! Ack! Wrong date and location! But I didn’t want to be a naysayer, so I met with them from 9:00 – 10:00 today and raced to be ready for commencement at 10:15.

the local cup
Remember this place? The Local Cup.

I was so happy to see my writing people — honestly. I really like both individuals and felt warmed by their presence. However, due to a life hiccup, I also was unfocused during our get together. I tried to remind myself that the point of writing is “butt in seat and see what you can accomplish.” Because my brain was elsewhere, I decided to go through some old stories of mine (2006-2013). And I remembered something:

I am got-damn hilarious.

I’m sitting there, reading old stories, snorting quietly while my fellow writers look pensively over their poems. Now, how is this “writing,” you may ask? In my opinion, the hardest part about being a writer is seeing the writing for what it is. It takes years. You step back and forget the person you were when you wrote the story. It’s like I’ve been given some other writer’s work to scrutinize and play with, which is super low pressure compared to WRITING YOUR OWN GOOD MATERIAL.

Not only that, but I noticed I had a style in those stories. At times, I am deeply cruel as a writer. I’m unforgiving and rake characters over the coals. Main characters, too. Yikes. I also have a poetic rhythm, playing with repetition and alliteration and other word sounds.

I’ve decided to commit myself to revising old stories, submitting them to magazines, and possibly seeing if any of them go together and could be submitted as a chapbook. I’m not good with revising on screen, so the first thing I did was print everything off. There is a lot there. It’s easy to forget just how many pages I needed for my Master’s degree (120) and then again for my Master of Fine Arts (I think it was 124 pages). That’s some good foundation for me to play with.

See you next Saturday!

 

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20 comments

  1. Yes, I’m glad you could go too. Hope you weren’t too puffed running to the graduation. How was the writing of the others? Or do you think you shouldn’t say.

    • The point of writing with others is not to talk. But it’s sort of like having a gym buddy who keeps you accountable. So, honestly, we didn’t say much, but I was so happy they were there.

  2. Ugh, I’m so sorry there was confusion with this first meet up. But I’m glad that it worked out in the end (even if you had a mad dash off to graduation).

    I find reviewing old writing and editing it with a new eye to be very therapeutic, honestly. Now, I haven’t done creative writing since the early 2000’s, but even with my book reviews, it’s nice to go through, shore things up and make it all a little tighter. I’m far too verbose! I love the idea of editing all your work and working towards a chapbook. Do you have different material from your masters vs. MFA? Also, why the two masters degrees? What’s the difference between them?

    • My Masters was more of a mishmash if memoir and short fiction, all one plot. My MFA was various short stories that didn’t really have a theme (I was secretly teaching while in school–which you’re not supposed to do–because it was the recession and we were broke, so I didn’t have as much time to work on the thesis as I should have).

      I started my bachelor’s degree as a music major. That bombed, so I was mad and tried to finish school as fast as possible and did it in 3 years. Best the end, I realized that I really liked the creative writing faculty. Since I didn’t have another plan, I stayed at the school for a master’s degree to work with the same people. Then, I didn’t know what to do with myself and was told that an MFA is a terminal degree that works like a PhD, so I figured why not. The tuition was waived anyway. As the years go by and more colleges have a creative writing PhD, the MFA matters less and less.

      • Ooooh, teaching and in your masters? Sneaky. Are you not supposed to teach, specifically, or not work at all? Because that sounds impossible, I will admit. Even after the recession, well, it’s a challenge to stay afloat sometimes.

        You started as a music major?! What was your instrument? *I* have a degree in music. Which.., now that I type this.. makes me feel like at some point we’ve discussed this… Hm.

        I’m sorry your degree’s meaning is being washed away with time. Have you considered getting a PhD to stay relevant, or are you going to ride out where you are? Both have their pros and cons, I imagine.

        • You’re not supposed to work at all when you are in the Notre Dame graduate program. Here’s the problem with that: while PhD folks get their tuition waived AND they get a stipend, anyone doing a master’s degree gets a tuition waiver, but no pay. So, you HAVE to do something or live off of credit cards…but even then, how would you pay your monthly credit card bill? Right now, I’m not considering getting a PhD because I would spend 7 years on that, come out at age 40 (at the earliest) and be doing the same job I’m currently doing.

          We did talk about both being music majors. I had a meltdown freshman year and quit. You made it!

          • Ugh. All of that sounds no bueno. So much work for so little reward! Why on earth would you not be permitted to work while gaining no stipend? Do they expect everyone to complete their masters program purely on loans?! Where on earth are these people from? #SoapboxDone

            Bam. I knew we had chatted about music. It was just so long ago… I had a meltdown or two of my own. Higher education is HARD!

              • I mean, I definitely had theory concerns. Aural training was IMPOSSIBLE for me. I did everything but fail. Anyway, the real meltdown took place at the end of my 4th year (I took 5 years to complete a double bachelors in Music Ed and Music Performance) I was told I didn’t have any talent in percussion performance by my teacher. I am not the sort of person who thrives in a tough-love environment. I collapsed. I thought, “If I have no talent, why did you wait until I was only one year away from this degree? I could have changed degrees and done something else which would pay more!” It was frustrating.

                As you know, I don’t use my degree to make a living now. But, I do still play regularly and I’m both a board member and performing member of the Verona Area Concert Band. I think that whole incident really shattered my confidence.

  3. Glad you found your older stuff stood the test of time. Keep working on them! But don’t use them as an excuse to put off new writing. Okay?

    Signed: Your well-wishing accountabuddy 😀

  4. I’m so glad you had a chance to interact with other writers this week, even if you were a bit distracted. Oh my gosh, it’s so much easier to critique other people’s writing. I always try to take a few days before even looking at reviews I’ve written. I know they are probably a mess, but when I take a step back and then return to them, I usually have a clearer head and am able to actually understand what I was trying to say.

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