Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Making the Leap

I've been thinking, lately, a lot about how "real" writers write. What I mean by real is writers who get published because frankly, I doubt many young kids with their noses pressed into books from the library dream about one day having a blog of their own. The aim has always been for the "literary sort" to be published.

I tried. Right after my BA, I sent out a round of poetry to small press journals. Most of them never replied, one nice magazine sent me back my self-addressed stamped manuscript with "sorry, not interested" scrawled across one page. No feedback otherwise. At the time, I took it as a sign that I must not be very good.

Then, I went to grad school. I went to an MA program where there was also an MFA track. I didn't know what MFAs were, at the time. I might have gotten one had I known, but I was already on the MA then PhD track & didn't see the need to switch. The MFA students were generally intense. They wrote, the workshopped. They fought, they had wild parties. I was married & less intense, and I also lived far enough away from where the MFA crowd congregated that they never really made it to my sometimes fairly wild parties. But I took away from that place the feeling that I was more a critic than a poet. I was jealous, but also focused on the teaching gig I was planning to have magically appear in exactly the place I needed it to appear. (Dreams. Ah. Innocence.)

So for years, I really did not write a single poem. Not anything worth calling that, really. A few lame scribbles. While I was pregnant with the kids I wrote the two poems that I'm most proud of in a long time about them, about a sonogram picture. And began thinking about, again, writing the novels which I have ideas about, even an outline for.

Here, in LA, I tentatively have written again. I went to one meeting of the student writer's group, got inspired by a couple of those poets & inspired by the theme to write a couple of good poems. Read a "how to" book called poemcrazy which I still quite like. When the new faculty member who joined us last year, who during her time b/w being hired and starting the Fall semester sat down and wrote her first book, which is now one of three accepted & well on the way to publication arrived, we talked a little bit about our shared interest in genre fiction. It was fun, and I went home one day last fall and wrote ten pages on a book I've actually got all mapped out.

But I haven't really written anything in forever. Class lectures, mostly. I wrote a few drunken poems a few weeks ago, mad at the world, mad at the difficulty in my life (Sean's problems, business, tiredness, life.) It's not that bad, really, but the poems seemed very mad & bitter. (Hey, I said I'd had a couple glasses of wine!) :)

In a few weeks now, I'll be done teaching the last semester I'll teach at the Uni where I work before I'm done for an indefinite period. There are multiple reasons-- the main two being first that my life-- especially the real estate part-- is way too complicated to add even a little bit of time for teaching. The other, less crucial one is that budget cuts are probably going to eliminate my position anyway.

So, I'm leaving the University for the first time in a few years. And I'm not planning to come back right away, either. What I do plan is writing. I want to write, I want to work towards publication. I have to plan to limit my time online, because it can really suck the day away and I don't have that much free time to waste anymore.

I have a business plan, too, and Andrew is very adamant that I work on that stuff. I will, but I will promise myself that I will make the leap to write my own creative work, too. I miss living in that space, that creative life. I will see what I can explore, and work, and write. I am really looking forward to that, and I really hope it pays off.

3 comments:

Tara Lynn Johnson said...

You'll make the time away from these here Internets because it's important and something you really want. I've been coming out of my writing cocoon lately. Something's in the air... :-)

swine said...

i think it's really really important to realize that indy publishing is on the cusp now; that "being published" doesn't mean you get picked up by Random House, etc. And also that indy publishing is much more now than the "vanity press" stigma it carries. Think of what's happened to the big music labels and independent bands/recording.

there is a very good blog that's listed on my "Roll Call" page about Indy PUblishing. If you're interested it's: http://publishren.wordpress.com/

It's a collaborative project and there is some FANTASTIC advice on POD and how it figures in today's market or how it figures into an indy writer's life.

i consider us Indies all the way. Matter of fact, for me, it is almost a detriment to go any other route. my audience is not mass-market, nor do i want it to be--and i realized this not too long ago.

hope you write again. i came very close w/my novel, but in the end the publishers passed because they didn't think my subject matter would sell enough copies to make them rich. they thought, also, that it wasn't contemporary or timely enough.

and so off to POD I go.

Pearl said...

Good leap, happy landings...

I've been writing f/t since leap from teaching for 3 years now.

Writing and reading and getting out to whatever readings you may have locally, whenever you can could only help. Once the real estate complexity settled, you may have the time/energy/cash for a writing retreat to network. There are some that offer grants. Something to think about once you have the time down to flesh out the outline of story.