MFA Achievement: Check

Funny how quickly we write off our triumphs and focus our energy on the next level, the next goal we have.

As a writer, it’s so difficult to decide I’ll take a day off. I’ll celebrate my achievement, because there’s always something else I could be working on. Another story I could try to get published, a revision that might just make my novel finally work in a better way.

A couple days ago I posted, at the end of a post completely unrelated that I had big news that I would divulge the next day. Now, here I am, three days later, and just now remember that I didn’t divulge said info.

So, that big news is this: I have finally “finished” my thesis, and first novel. It’s gotten the go ahead from my thesis adviser and my second reader. This means I will finally, without a doubt, graduate with my MFA in creative writing on August 13th, this summer.

Now, how much did I celebrate when I heard this news? I told my partner and she congratulated me, and I felt really good about myself for about an hour or so. And here’s the kicker–I then just forgot all about it. I pushed it to the back of my mind and started working on other pieces I’ve been wanting to work on.

The victory wasn’t celebrated in the least. I didn’t toast with friends and champange (though that might come on actual graduation) and I didn’t go out for dinner. I just wrote more. Maybe this is because I’m still a relatively new, young, writer. But maybe it’s because my writing is the thing I enjoy the most (cycling is a close second), and no matter how accomplished I become I’ll always want to come back to my keypad and lay down the framework for a new story, a new novel, an essay, because when I write something new, something I think is interesting and good, it makes me feel more alive than any celebration can. Then I show it to a friend and they ask me how long it is before they start reading and I tell them not to read it.

Isn’t that the more offensive part of being a writer? When someone says they’ll read something of yours and when you go to give them the piece they ask how long it is? A reader in a bookstore doesn’t buy the book because it is long or short, they buy it because the story looks good.

Anyway–off track.

What I’ve been trying to say is this: celebrate your achievements. Don’t shrug them off or leave them to stew. If you’ve done something of note, let people know. I’m so excited to not be a student anymore. It’s been about 3.5 years since I entered this program, and now–finally–I’m ready to be done.

8/17/15 Confusions

Dear Bruce,

Just setting president by checking in with you this week.

I’m in the middle of the third bridge this morning. Making this character more of the center piece of the novel is challenging, and because of the way Theo views the world and the rather magical aspects of his talents, it has made the bridges somewhat more magical as well, less about a man who is severally confused, and more about a man who is willing to accept that these kinds of places (this theater) exist.

8/16/15 On Stage

Theo stared down at the swirling water, the boy suspended and swaying. Next to Theo was Kino and next to Kino, Felicia. Theo couldn’t take his eyes off the writhing water. The colors of it, even by the light of the moon, stretched and pulled, like tentacles. Like the vines of the forest.

Theo bent down to touch it, but his hand only met cloth. He pulled at the light scarf and it came with him as he stood. He held the scarf between thumb and index finger and looked at it, uncomprehending. A low murmur was rising all around him.

The play was over.

The crowed had noticed him on the stage. Theo was unsure how he had gotten there. Kino, Felicia–they stared at him. They looked as confused as he felt.

“You weren’t here,” said Kino.

“No,” said Theo.

“Then why are you?” asked the older man.

“I don’t know,” said Theo. “This isn’t my story.”

“We’ll get to that,” said Felicia.

“We won’t,” said Theo. “Nobody has ever heard it.”

The crowd was buzzing more now. All eyes on stage, though the fourth wall had been broken once Theo had climbed the steps. Had he climbed them? He would have had to come all the way from the balcony.

“You’re story still happened,” said Kino. “It will continue to happen and be told like all stories are told since the beginning of time.”

“Not mine,” said Theo.

“They’ll want it,” said Kino, indicating the crowd.

The glanced that way. A police office was in the front row. He was still in uniform. His badge stood out on his chest. He was salt a pepper and he looked at Theo with a comprehension Theo didn’t like. The police officer wetted his lips. The man’s eyes were probing and vicious and made Theo’s skin crawl.

He suddenly needed to be away. He felt his legs go shaky. He felt his mouth dry up. Theo couldn’t bring himself to go back to the crowd. There would be too many eyes there. He turned and bee lined a course for back stage. The rigging hung down revealingly. The light was dim. Theo tuned out any sound that might come from the stage. props and sets lined the walls. Some fake trees and vines for the oasis. He couldn’t tell if it had all been real, a dream, or a play. He had seen the whole thing. But it was more than just a spectacle. It was a hard truth in his stomach and heart. One Theo didn’t want to accept.

A door lead to the backstage hallway. Above the door an exit sign in illuminated red letters hung. Theo opened the door and was met with fluorescent white lights. His eyes ached for a moment as he stepped through and shut the door behind him. He looked to the left, then the right. There wasn’t another exit sign anywhere. It was time he left. It was time he got back to London and called the London School of Photography and inquire to why nobody had picked him–him–up. He could teach their students far more about art than anyone else. He knew. He knew this place was wrong and nothing compared to his creations. He had thought it was a chance for him to learn more, but now he understood it was nothing but a chance for others to steal his craft. Uncover the truth of his art–strip away the mystery. Make it base and low and completely commonplace. He’d not let them take it from him.