[Wednesday Ramblings] Legit Fears

Check out all my RamblingsI’m plus two weeks on Stonecoast and knee deep in my first packet, but things are a bit…murky. Though happy as a pig in muck, I had something of a realization this morning. When it comes down to it, I’m still thinking of all the reading, the drafting, and the editing as school work—and that’s troubling, though I’m not sure why. I do know I don’t like it. It’s not a pro-creative mindset, just a hurdle-based objective conquering one. I’m essentially just grinding, my natural response to conquering hurdles. As for where it comes from, I’m pretty sure it’s tied to me not having any other context for doing long strokes of work with no direction beyond that. Due dates are the only thing that keep me from floating away into the afternoon sky—always have been really. It’s not like my day job, where I get a ticket, do the work, and move on to the next one.

I know it’s very premature—I do after all have three more semesters—but I’m worried about my post-MFA life. If I’m going to still be serious about writing after I get done with my MFA, I’ll need deadlines. Except I have absolutely no idea where to start on keeping tabs on markets. I mean, I’ve signed up for Duotrope, but the site is moon runes to me. Which would be funny if I couldn’t dive head first into an all Japanese RPG with no issues.

Doesn’t help that I’m worried if I don’t have writing to send in, I’ll just give up on my novels shortly after I no longer have due dates—and I don’t want to do that, but I know me. Without a clear goal I just sort of drift. I’ll keep working on them sure, but the likelihood of finishing one of them will go down pretty steeply once people stop wanting to see stuff from me. So it seems like short fiction would be the way to go except, I can’t write a short story to save my life—at least right now anyway.

All of this angst of course begs the question: Why am I doing this at all then? If I know my only strength is writing novels and I know I’ll just float off at the slightest breeze, why bother? It’s the question I’ve been getting asked ever since I gave up on Computer Science nearly four years ago. And still I can’t help but wave my hands at it, I don’t really have an answer beyond that. There’s no logic to what I’m doing really. I’m following a dream and hoping that I won’t wake up before something awesome happens. Except, what to do with that awesome, should I ever find it? It’s still gone when I wake up either way. I need a way to bring the awesome back. Sitting here at my desk, the past residency and all the energy already feels so far away. A colorful memory in a world that’s grey.

And maybe that’s why I’m doing my MFA now and not later. There’s no doubt in my mind that I’m trying to get the color back while I still can. The couple of months after I got rejected would have been the rest of my life more’n likely—it still might be if I’m not careful. Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a throwing in the towel. It’s a reaffirmation, its a silent nod.

See when my life first started getting gray, back in Middle School, was I started writing. Between my parents divorce, coming back to my friends after spending fifth grade at a different school, and my best friend moving to Germany shortly before Christmas in 6th grade, I was pretty lonely and indifferent towards life by the end of that year.

I spent my days buried up to my nose in Eddings, Weis+Hickman, Anthony, Brooks, Asimov, Jordan, and Asprin. I read through every class and only managed to keep passing because I’m a boss test taker and the year I’d spent in a different school put me way ahead of my classmates (I was still being taught things in High School that I’d learned in that super intense fifth grade year).

So I guess this week has two questions: 1) How can I get better at writing short fiction? And 2) How does one find a writing group? Because it’s fairly likely that if I can’t do one of them I’ll probably never put this MFA to use beyond getting my foot in the door for an adjunct position.

Anyway, thanks for stopping by. Catch ya’ll next week!


About Trevor Gulley

Trevor Gulley is a writer, cartoonist, and gamer. He works full time in the IT industry and judges Magic most weekends.

Posted on 08/01/2012, in Wednesday Ramblings and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Hey there Trevor. I don’t know if your questions were rhetorical or not. Here are the obvious answers.

    1) by writing and reading short fiction

    2) by starting one

    Hang in there. I thought of one other exercise for improving writing skills, although I have never tried it. Take a piece of short fiction that you highly admired some time in the past and then without referencing it or re-reading it try to retell it, then try to retell it within a different setting, then try to retell it after other mutations. I would like to try this myself some time. The approach comes from the way that I really learned to program. I did it by modifying programs that someone else had written. I would try to improve it or change it and see what affect the changes had. Do you think that would work with learning to write fiction?

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