My first semester in an MFA program has come to an end. I wrote a lot and liked some of it. I read a lot and liked some of that, too. I tutored a bunch of students and think I even helped some of them. I did some work in selections and layout for a literary magazine. I found every writer in this program is brilliant, and I think some of them even like me.
It’s been good, is what I’m saying.
Creatively, I came to George Mason University wanting to push myself into trying new things, and not only do I feel I accomplished that, but I think the teachers and other writers helped open doors I wouldn’t have been able to open on my own. The first semester was difficult but a success, and even though I’m off for winter break now (a prospect that still seems bizarre to me), I’m eager to keep pushing forward.
But first, happy holidays, everyone! I hope your celebrations are merry.
When you’re a writer, one of the most common questions you get is about where your stories come from. I don’t know about other writers, but in my experience, stories begin like a loose thread you one day notice on your shirt. Smarter people will get the scissors, cut it off, and toss it aside, but not you. You’re compelled to pick and tug at it because there’s something satisfying about drawing it out.
The more you work it, the more your shirt unravels. Before long, the seam is open, and you can see something of what you look like underneath. You keep pulling, and eventually, the sleeve is in tatters. You keep going, and often, the thread jumps off the seam. That’s when it becomes grueling work.
The short version is I was accepted into George Mason University’s MFA in Creative Writing program. I’ll be starting this fall with full funding, including tuition remission, a stipend, and a GTA position. For the next three years, I’ll be taking classes, writing, reading, and teaching full time.
There is a popular sentiment that stories, like life, are about the journey, not the ending. I think good fiction has to differentiate itself from life, so stories are about the journey and the ending.
Maybe I’m hopelessly morbid, but I think about death all the time. I know I’m not the only one, but how I’m going to check out is constantly on my mind. It doesn’t frighten me or stop me from living, but like a good story, I do want to know how it all ends. Like reading a good story, though, I’m not eager to get there. It’s a paradox. I don’t want it to end.
So what are you doing the weekend of April 26-28th? If you’re planning to be in D.C., you should check out Awesome Con downtown at the convention center. If you’re not planning to be in D.C., you should plan to be in D.C. and come check out Awesome Con downtown at the convention center
I will have a table (Q-09) in Artist Alley with three other local writers: Nick DeWolf, Slade Grayson, and E.J. Wenstrom. We’re going to be planted across from Wild Bill’s Olde Fashioned Soda, which I’ve never heard of, but I think it’s reasonable to assume Wild Bill knows how to party. I mean, his name is Wild Bill. We’ll also be adjacent to Dark Horse Comics, which, cool!
Friday evening, Nick, E.J., and I will be on a panel of local writers with Neil Cohen, David Salkin, and Alton Simpson, so you should come ask us questions. “Ask us questions” may also be read as “heckle us.” Earlier that day, E.J.’s on another panel, and then Neil has one on entrepreneurship on Sunday. Mostly, I’ll just be hanging out, enjoying the con, and hoping I get to meet some cool people (and hopefully sell a few books).
If you decide to come, please swing by and say hello. Mention this blog post, and get a free bookmark!
I haven’t written about The Walking Dead for a while. I haven’t felt like it’s been worth writing about for a while. But now that it’s under new management and a major cast member has exited the show, I was interested to see where the series stands after nine seasons, an eternity on network television.
(Coincidentally, this ended up being 3,600 words, an eternity on the Internet, so if you don’t feel like reading that and want to leave right now, I really can’t blame you. I wrote it, though, so I’m posting it, dammit!)
In November, Lithub republished a list of ten rules for novelists by Jonathan Franzen that had originally appeared in the Guardian in 2010. It apparently raised a stink on the Internet. Reading the list now, I see why it was divisive. Some of his rules are obvious. Some are preposterous or pretentious. Overall, it’s just not a helpful list.
All of this is in my humble opinion, of course (this is my blog after all). Franzen has accomplished far more in his writing career than I probably ever will, but I see reflections of some broader issues in the literary community here that I feel the need to comment on.
To be clear, this isn’t really about Franzen’s list. This is about the impetus of some of his ideas. And admittedly, it probably reveals more about my own philosophies than Franzen’s, so take it for what it’s worth
After two years of holding partisan control of the federal government during which border security was not an emergency, a president the American people don’t want is declaring a state of emergency that doesn’t exist to build a wasteful and ineffective wall the American people don’t want, by taking money from the military’s tax-funded budget, not Mexico as he promised, and to satisfy prejudices and assuage fears he helped create with lies and demagoguery, thus sidestepping democracy and invoking autocracy in the country that used to be the leader of the free world where self-proclaimed patriots and champions of liberty used to criticize a black president for using the power of executive order and now are celebrating victory for getting nothing their country wants or needs, because one failed businessman turned celebrity exploits the popular scorn of modern American politics to convince them he knows best and reinforces that belief with propaganda, confirmation bias, and the cognitive dissonance of a generation that stripped future generations of their prosperity and is losing its grasp on the modern world.
Last week, a young writer asked if I had any insecurities about my writing. My initial response was, yes, of course I have insecurities. I wouldn’t be a writer if I wasn’t on some level insecure about my writing (and in general about everything for always and forever).
However, after some retrospection, I realized I’m in a much better place than I was when I started.