Potential (Unrealized?)

April 10, 2009

I will not, it seems, be going to graduate school. I got the last rejection letter today. Of course, I did get wait-listed, but it’s probably safe to assume that won’t work out. I’m still processing my feelings about this.

About seven years ago, when I first realized that writing felt like something I could do, I’ve had nothing but encouragement from all the individuals I’ve shown my work to (including teachers who most always seemed to think I had some pretty good potential). It’s only the graduate schools that have rejected me.

I’ve had things published here and there, often what I consider to be my weaker work.

Some people genuinely seem to love what I write.

I trust my friends, and I assume that, if I was awful or even just not quite good enough, someone would have spoken up by now and said, “Jason, you know, writing probably shouldn’t be your thing.”

So, I must be doing something right. I wonder about the graduate school stuff though. Why always wait lists? But never admission? I wonder if it has something to do with my voice.

I have had two separate writing teachers in different states describe my voice as like having an old man you don’t really know tell you a story. In one case it was a compliment, but in the other, I’m not sure. Anyway, I think it’s a pretty apt description of my writing. Nothing jumps out at you, normally, but I like to think that when it’s over you find you’ve enjoyed the experience.

I like that about my writing. I don’t want to be flashy. I want to be (much as it pains me to use this over-used word) true. I hope I am most of the time.

I suppose I’ll keep at it. I have too many ideas to stop. A little acceptance would have been nice, though. Maybe that will come later in a different form.

Spring Break Hodgepodge

April 5, 2009

I am at the tail end of the tail end of spring break now, and I feel much better than I did going in. I only have eight weeks of school to go and this is most releaving. I may end up taking the last week of school off though as the pushing back of the end of the year due to our various natural disasters at put it awfully near Cate’s due date. I have enjoyed teaching much more this year than last year, but I will be very glad for the eight or nine weeks of summer I stand to get.

It was my goal to finish the second draft of the Charles Burden book this week, and, well, I failed at that, but I did finish the editing process. Now, it’s just a matter of going through and making all the changes, which shouldn’t take that long if I make myself work on it several nights a week. I’m very pleased with the book over all. I think it’s much better than Looking for Elysium. I suppose this makes sense as second novels are supposed to be better than first novels. I will be interested to here what people have to say about it when I distribute copies to my handful of trusted readers. The only part I’m not looking forward to is making the copies as Kinko’s is freaking expensive.

Baseball season starts tomorrow. I am not optimistic as the Reds’ management seems intent on continually making asinine decisions. I am looking forward to going to games though. We may make it to a Bats game as early as this weekend if the weather is nice enough and Cate and I will be going to Cincy for a few games early next month. It’s our last little getaway before Simone arrives and we spend the next several years with no free time.

I am still waiting to here from some graduate programs. It’s getting late in the game and they really need to let me know. The process always drags out like this though, and it will resolve soon enough.

Random Thoughts on Writing

November 18, 2008

– I am making progress on the Charles Burden book. I think a first draft will be ready around Christmas, so order your copies now as the saying goes. I’m really hoping for some serious writing time this weekend and over Thanksgiving.

– I need to find an agent. That is, I need to go through the process of trying to find an agent. I love writing the books, but they are not going to magically publish themselves. I am not good at self-pimping.

– One cliche I hear a lot involves people talking about how when you do something you love for a living, it becomes work. I do not think this would be true if I were ever able to put “writer” on my tax returns or whatever. I say this because writing is already work. There is a quote I really love (but can’t remember the source of) that says, “The best part of writing is having written.” I think a lot of that is true, though I actually do enjoy the writing process from time to time as well. Revision, editing, and polishing I kind of hate as it only involves working with the part of your book that sucks or that you fucked up on. So, not enjoying these things, is a bit like saying I do not enjoy being told I suck. Also, two summers ago I had a rare confluence of money and time, so I wrote pretty much every day. I managed about 70,000 while trying to force myself to write a minimum of 1500 words a day. It was not easy, and it was definitely work, but mostly, I did enjoy it. I have no complaints about the time I spent writing. I would be perfectly happy to spend my life doing that/teaching writing.

– Applying to eight graduate schools is tedious, but I should be done soon. I finally got my GRE writing score, which means I can fill in that blank on the applications. Hopefully, I’ll get somethings in envelopes and sent out this weekend.

– I need to submit to the Literary Leo this year. I have a nice little short story about a guy who accidentally kills a mugger that might work. I don’t write short fiction much anymore. Even when I get new ideas, it always feels like I will need hundreds of pages to tell the story.

– How the hell did that happen anyway? I can distinctly remember when ten pages felt like a real accomplishment. Why does it take me 200 – 400 pages to tell a story now? I’m not necessarily complaining, I’m just saying.

– I could imagine writing some Charles short stories later on. I like him. I could probably write stories about his whole family. That might be interesting, actually. We will see.

– That is all, I think

Baseball, Age, and the GRE

November 1, 2008

I was sitting in bed talking to Cate a few minutes ago (she is not feeling well — pregnancy and all), bemoaning the current state of my beloved Reds and I uttered the following phrase, “They had a couple of winning seasons when I was in college.” This is significant not for the reason I would like it to be. You see, it has not been just a few years since I was in college. I last attended classes at Washington University six and a half years ago. Yes, yes, I know, I am only twenty-eight, but I am feeling my age. Six and a half years? What the hell?

If you didn’t know me, you’d think I was right on track. I have a decent, relatively comfortable job teaching English at a not-fantastic-not-terrible high school, I have an intelligent, beautiful wife, and my first child is on its way. That seems pretty on-schedule for a twenty-eight year old. Yup, just about right where I should be, except for one thing. Saved on my computer I have one completed novel and one almost completed novel. I think of myself, very much as a writer. Writing is what I love. It’s what I want to do with my life, and based on the feedback I’ve gotten from people I trust, I am reasonably okay at it, so I am going off track. I am going back to graduate school.

Assuming I get in to one of the eight schools where I am applying, I will finish my MFA in fiction writing when I am thirty years old. At that point, I will, even if things go well, have virtually no savings, the same student loans I have now, a two year old child, and be seeking a new career. That seems less on schedule. Still, I have to do it.

I do consider myself a writer, but I also enjoy teaching. Specifically, I enjoy teaching writing. One of the most gratifying experiences of my life was student teaching creative writing class a couple of years ago. I know how to teach writing, and I’m really good at it, but they don’t really let you teach writing in high school. At least, not without a bunch of unnecessary restrictions that prevent you from really being much help to the kids you are teaching. Not to mention, most of the kids don’t care about being good writers anyway, thus the new degree. If it works out, I should be able to find a job teaching at a college. Of course, I will need to get a book or two published, and hopefully I can, because I can think of nothing I would rather do than teach writing to a bunch of twenty year olds and write books. I’m serious. That sounds like heaven to me. So I’m going back to graduate school, hopefully (if I get in [I really hope I get in {really}]).

As part of the process of gaining admission to some institution or another, I took the GRE today. Actually, I retook it because my six year old scores have now expired (again, time progresses). I’ll be honest, it was kind of demoralizing in a way. I’m not as cocky as I used to be. I don’t know my writing score yet, but I’m pretty sure I did well. My verbal was basically the same as it was six years ago (I lost a few points, but I think that’s more random than anything). My math score fell off quite a bit, though. Now, I haven’t take a math class since high school (that would be ten years ago), so, considering, I think my solidly above average score is still pretty okay, but it was a reminder. I’m not 21 anymore. There are things I have let go, and there are things I have worked on. Mostly, I think I have made good choices, especially over the last few years when I finally got my act together, but from time to time I notice little things. I’m a better writer, sure, but I don’t do as well on math tests anymore. I always did well on math tests. I even toyed with being a physics major once upon a time. I suppose the test today was just a reminder that choices have consequences, even if they’re the right ones. I’m probably making too much of all of this, but somehow, today makes me want to get my ass in gear and write as much and as well as I can. We’ll see how that goes. I want to get Charles Burden wrapped up soon. Hopefully before Thanksgiving; definitely before Christmas. I want to work and put myself in a position to do the work I love. I’m going to try. I’ll keep you posted.