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All content copyright 2010 by Chelsea Biondolillo. Seriously.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 225

Sad day. The mail came, and it included my self-addressed stamped envelope from The Night contest. They only use those for the diminutive yet crushing slips of paper that say, "you will not even be mentioned, honorably or otherwise."

I mean, CAMON. I tell myself to be reasonable. There must have been hundreds of entries. Thousands! Let's say thousands. But the fact is: I had hope and now it is gone.

Because you have to have hope, right? I mean. I have to believe that my work can win all of the awards all of time. I have to put everything I have into it, or it's pointless. Leave it all on the race route, my running coaches always said. (God I wish I could go for a run right now, but it is dark and my neighborhood is not built for that.) So, I got attached. I thought for sure, that at least... a runner up? So many accolades for my "old writing," last year's stuff from the admissions committees--surely this year's better stuff had a chance?

I don't have children (and I can't even stand my cat most days), all I have are these words to send out into the world, and hope that they change it for the better, make me proud. Now the failure of this essay is on me, the hapless parent, who failed to adequately prepare--or did not give enough attention to--my progeny. This prodigal child, come back to me via a stupid little sliver of paper: not even worth a whole sheet! they tell me.  And I haven't just failed these ten double spaced pages. The hummingbirds and bees that I loved so hard! have gone down with the ship as well.

This happens. This is what writing is about, what I want to be my future forever. Papercuts from the online journals who pay nothing, stabbings from the magazines I love so much, and an axe to the forehead from a contest that I felt I had sent my best. If I want to get through the rest of my life, I just have to learn to grit my teeth and lean into the blows.

I know rejection happens, which is why I turned around and sent it in to another competition before I'd even eaten dinner. And I packaged up another submission, that I'll send after I get paid next week. (Incidentally, these $20 fees really add up when one is trying to live on $100 a week. Can I really spend the rest of my life like this: page to page, stamp by stamp?)

So there it is. I'm going to bed early, after maybe crying for a little bit. It's been a long week, and I deserve it.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 224

I think I managed to go most of the day without looking up apartments in Laramie, Lubbock, or Manhattan (KS). I did not look up course offerings or read blurbs from the books of faculty. I did not use google maps to "walk" around any campuses.

Doesn't mean I didn't want to, but I refrained.

My cat was skittish and weird around another nice young person who wanted a friendly lovey cat. She seemed sad when she left, and I don't imagine her calling back. He's doomed.

I reworked a piece of flash fiction and submitted it to a new lit mag that some folks I know have started. The pieces are read blind, so I won't hold it against them if they turn it down.

On the birding essay: I think I found the "larger theme" or what have you. I'm still mulling it over.

Only 141 days left of this little experiment. I need to think about whether it has helped, hurt, or had no effect on my writing practice. I could make a snap judgment, but I'd rather not.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 223

No, I haven't decided yet. Though I think about it approximately three times each hour.

I'm getting more organized about the birding essay, and baby steps are apparently the best I can do right now. I've drafted an outline and am now looking at which parts of the blackbird essay will be cannibalized and which will be thrown out.

I gave up the snooze button for Lent and was doing really well until this week. Now I am back to my old tricks, I suspect there's something to feeling "stuck" that makes me want to stay in bed all day.

What's nuts is that I can't even write one of these blog posts without stopping and staring into space every sentence. Which city has better yoga classes? Which has farmer's markets? Where can I live closest to school? Which has the most classes to choose from? Can I take a bus in any of these cities? Can I camp/hike/bird watch close to town? And it goes on into the night. It's all wonderful stuff, and sometimes I just start dancing around in my room because I'm so goddamned stoked for next year. Or I let out a spontaneous 'yawp!' But OHTHEWAITING.

Monday, March 28, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 222

Rough day; sometimes they just are. I managed to do some Spanish and that felt like much better than nothing.

I want to distract myself with writing for this next week+, but my brain is so all over the place. How can I focus?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 221

I woke up early and went to the botanical garden. I was able to get in before the crowds, and was rewarded with a bunch of noisy Gila Woodpeckers.

Over coffee I wrote notes.

Then Kansas wrote me to say they have nominated me for a graduate school scholarship. They have now beat the Texas offer with two awards.

It's been a weird weekend all around. I was supposed to turn a school down today. But now I feel like I don't have enough information. And yet, the only new information I could get would be a peek at the future.

In other news, the cat seems to realize his precarious situation and has not destroyed anything in the last two days. I don't really hate him, I just want him to find a home where he'll be happier.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, March 26, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 220

This morning I got my newest Indispensable package. I can't wait to dive into Townie, but not til I get some stuff done.

I spent the afternoon at the library, and then at a couple of coffeeshops gathering and then reading through some books about famous birders. Once home, I watched a PBS special on birds of paradise and one on hummingbirds. I hope all this counts as research. Other than to order my coffees, I spoke out loud to no one. (I just now realized that!)

Emails were exchanged, and texts, tweets, and posts... But no talking. It was actually really nice. I'm taking my notebook and camera to the botanical garden really early in the morning for a bit more research. My membership lets me in an hour before everyone else, and I am hoping that's good news for looking at birds. This last essay might have to be the last bird-related piece for a bit. I'm starting to thing about too much of the same stuff. Perhaps time to resurrect the glacier piece?

And just like that, it's late. The early birder gets the grosbeak, so I'm off like the light.

Friday, March 25, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 219

I don't like my cat at all anymore. He's wrecking my shit. He requires constant attention whenever I'm home, unlike the cats I have dealt with in the past. This behavior is more doggish to me. Or childish. And there is a good reason I don't have either of those. I am the only dramatic crybaby allowed in this house. Period.

So when I come home, all stoked about some new school thing, he's the first thing I see. He's the first whiny, bossy, naggy thing. And I just get mad at him. This is dumb, I get that he's just a stupid cat (and before anyone jumps down my throat, I fucking love cats in general or I wouldn't have adopted him in the first stupid place). It's not his fault. He's bored and lonely. I work all day and then try to work when I get home. But I can't because he has to be a CONSTANT pain in my ass. Cats are supposed to be aloof--yet he is suddenly (ever since I had to get rid of his brother) the complete OPPOSITE of that. My teeth are gritting just to type it. I have to lock him in my room to write. It's not working out. And because no one wants him, there's nothing I can do about it but get more and more pissed off and angry each day that I get home and something else is scratched up or knocked over. I own one goddamn chair that's not a kitchen chair, and I had to put it in storage to save it--it's already ripped down the side, stuffing coming out. My bags, he uses as scratching posts--instead of the SCRATCHING POST he has. I can't sit down but he's fucking ON me.  He goes to the other side of the room and scratches at something or knocks something over just so I will chase him.

I tried to go to the library after work for some research books on a couple of birders, but it was closed. I had to go to my parents to get away from the goddamned cat, so no writing got accomplished. Tomorrow I will try to spend some productive time at the library before I have to come home and start screaming and throwing shoes again.

Had some encouraging conversations with Wyoming today, but there's still no change in my waitlist status. I need to pick an MA this weekend for my own peace of mind. Then I can just wait until April.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 218

Here's a crazy thought--I was in Texas just two weeks ago. It feels like it was two months ago. Like, YEARS ago I visited the campus and fell in love all over the place with everything.

I wrote a note this evening to the fine faculty at the University of Arizona. It was such a hard email to send! Arizona was my last resort, somewhere in the back of my mind--but it wasn't fair to sit on a spot that someone else somewhere wants and will love. And under different circumstances, I would have loved it too. But my heart is further away. I sure wish Wyoming would call! But at this point, either Kansas or Texas will be a wonderful consolation prize.

Now I just have to pick between them.

It's hard too, to write these "no thank you" notes, because I am always terrified that they are going to write back something devastating, like YOU'LL NEVER WRITE IN THIS TOWN AGAIN! Or, Don't you KNOW who we ARE? They haven't yet said anything other than kind, brief good lucks. It is always a relief to see the succinct well wishes, and such an awful gut-wrenching before.

Last year I counted down the rejections. This year, too there is a countdown of options. I was giddy after I sent the email tonight. As though, suddenly it was really truly going to happen!

Before I forget, here's the Xenith book review: Drawing out the Truth

So, yeah. I'm getting pretty amped up. I still need to unload this cat, though. Are you sure you don't want him?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 219

Long day! More messages from potential future classmates, and I sent a query to a lit site for a review of an upcoming book.

That's it. Still in a holding pattern until I pick one of these damn schools (one of which I will be honored and lucky to get to attend)! Then it's time to start packing. It seems far away, but I'll need to move in two months back to my folks and then again to city X two months after that.

OH MY GOD YOU GUYS! In FOUR months I'll be in grad school! Off to go cry myself tears of relief until I fall asleep.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 218

I'm tired. And I'm going to bed early.

Today, KSU let me know I won a scholarship that would add a bit of money to my stipend, if I were to choose them. I also heard some rave reviews from another TTU student.

The book review will go up Thursday morning, and I will post a link when it does. I listed a couple of things on craigslist, though I have not yet reposted my lousy cat.

Monday, March 21, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 217

The newest book review is done, but it's pending. The editor has some other pieces lined up, and I am definitely NOT a line-jumper. I will link as soon as it's live.

Today I turned down the University of Washington as graciously as I could. It was more than a little nerve-wracking, but I couldn't afford to go, even if they found me money for the school year. Over the weekend, I also badgered Penn State into rejecting me already, and they were kind enough to do so.

The tally:
MFAs: U of A - accepted; U of Wy - waitlisted
MAs: Texas Tech - accepted; KSU - accepted

I'd like to take one more school off the list by the end of the week. But for now, I will sleep, perchance to dream of a leetle paper-filled office with a short line of goofy undergrads waiting to ask me what a braided essay is.

365 days of being a writer: day 216

I was writing last night up to the very last minute on a deadline that dematerialized. So I went to bed and forgot all about writing it up.

The anxiety of having to choose really really soon is going to start stressing me out. It's already stressing me out, but still in a good way--I feel that tide shifting a little. This decision is mine, and I have already sensed pressure to pick a school that would not be in MY best interests. What's crazy is that there are still four weeks until the deadline.

It's a good place to be, I just want to make a decision and get on the road!

Hopefully, I will get a new book review up on Xenith tonight, stay tuned.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 215

It has been so difficult to focus enough lately to write, but I need to. This evening I managed to draft an intro and outline for my next book review for Xenith. I wanted to finish it, but as soon as I would sit down, I'd pop back up with a task or errand.

I'm stalking craigslist in the town I imagine I'll be this fall, though I'm still not ready to close all the other doors. And then, there is still a lot of ballast in this town.

I read a lot, throughout the day.

The Super Blurry supermoon about to be snatched from the heavens by the claw-like hand of a palm tree.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, March 18, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 214

Writing is a solitary act. As writers, we might look to others to form our community: to get advice before the fact and feedback and edits after, but the act itself and where we spend most of our time, is as one person hammering away at the words.

I used to hate being alone. Hated being left behind, physically or mentally. I hated being left out (I still do). But now, though I crave the circles of friends that I have had in the past--miss them like an ache--I can't wait to get home, to shut the door, put on a slippers and start typing or finish reading.

Part of that feeling is because at some point during the awesome suffocating heat of this summer, I will finally make my escape. All moments are now pointing to that moment like an arrow. Now, it isn't even an escape (though I can be grateful for the luxury it will afford) because I am leaping into something instead of just away from it. This town has come to represent a failure to thrive, a stuckness, while also showing me that I do have a writer's work ethic, I can commit to myself and my goals. I have done what I have in spite of setbacks.

I generally walk a fine line between selling myself short in every way possible and holding myself in such high regard as to be above the dues paying of everyone else. I know this. I am trying to do more celebrating, less self-pitying.

Every now and then I daydream about what I would say to the men who laid me off back in Austin  nearly three years ago. They would surely say, Who could have predicted what a good thing it would become? What a surprise!  And to that, I would say, NO. Nothing about what happened to me was good, or fortuitous, or even a foreshadowing of success. None of of the things that have worked out are a result of their actions. It is important to make that distinction, if just for myself. This is me rising up, not flying like a released bird.

This isn't to say I am an island. I have had so much help and support and shoulders to cry on and ears to bend til breaking &c. This is just to say that nothing has made me OK with being alone before, until all this writing. Which is maybe the most remarkable thing of all.

I'm also going to spend the next 100 days submitting work only to paying markets (book reviews and flash exercises excepted). Not that it relates to all the rest of this; it doesn't. I just don't want to forget that I said it.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 213

Happy Saint Patrick's Day. Rather than dwell on the fact that my jerky piece-of-shit cat totally blew his chance to live with a nice little hipster couple and their adorable looking stray cat, about which I am bitter AND disappointed, I would instead like to talk about synchronicity and jet streams of inspiration.

I've already linked to the great TED talk that Elizabeth Gilbert gave on creativity. Even though she is the author of what is right now almost the last book in the world I want to read, Gilbert says some things about genius and the creative process that resonate with me.

Such that, I have tried, in my way, to anthropomorphize my process a bit. It isn't adopting a new belief in so much as it's being open minded to different ways of interpreting the facts at hand. I could see a knocked-over garbage can on the street and think about the rotten hoodlums who must have torn through the neighborhood or I could wonder about the wind I must have missed, or the curious tip-overable shape of the bins in this city. It's about framing, rather than deciding to believe in genies. I have no idea why I just typed a whole paragraph of justification, but I'll let it be. (More after the jump...)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 212

Here are some things about grad school that scare me:
  1. What if I can't write once I get there? Right now, I am having the hardest time focusing my brain. What if not having a day job to suck up all of my brainjuice every day DOESN'T CHANGE THAT?
  2. What if I am awful at critical reading? I am the queen of missing the point. Driving by the forest cause I was wondering what kind of tree that was... I so hate feeling stupid and I am so prone to acting like a know-it-all. I sense a come-to-Jesus humbling is coming.
  3. What if I am not a good teacher? Sure, I can talk a blue streak, but can I coach someone to improve? No idea. I can be so impatient and so damned judgmental--these are not the qualities of a great teacher.
  4. What if the money runs out? If I have to choose between dropping out and taking out loans, I will take out loans. Then I will live on the verge of an anxiety attack for my last semester.
  5. What if I hate it? This could happen. I am notorious for growing to hate whatever I previously wanted so goddamned badly. 
  6. What if I can't make any friends and I die alone, choking on a chicken bone, in my tiny studio apartment?
OK. Now that it's all out there, it isn't cooped up in my head.

I heard some encouraging news from one of the schools today about the possibility of partially funding some traveling over the summer. It has definitely upped the ante. Spain! Man, I have wanted to go to Spain for YEARS and it has just never happened. Now, I have the chance to MAKE it happen.

Except in SPAIN

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 211

Old crankypants stopped by here this evening. She had been gone for awhile, what with the good news and all. It may have seemed like she was gone, when really she was just hiding in the shrubbery waiting for a good moment to make a grand entrance.

Like when my stupid cat had to go and be a total jerk to the very nice young man who came over to check him out cause he and his wife want to ADOPT him. I let it get to me. I let those obsessive negative thoughts start swirling around, like how I would be stuck with the cat, and not be able to get a studio apartment, and never get out of here, and lose all my acceptances. Cue: CRANKFEST.

It would be funny if I were exaggerating.

Then, I just sat down at the old computer and wrote a blog post. Not this one, but this one. It's my first, an intro, for the MFA Chronicles. I asked another new member if I could keep doing it if I decided on an MA, and we think the answer is yes. So there you go. Yet another writing blog to maintain. Har.

Monday, March 14, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 210

Earlier, I posted my statement of purpose. For posterity? I dunno. I said I would awhile back, if it got me in anywhere. Not that the SOP was what got me in, I mean the manuscript did that... But you know.

I poked around looking for some good contests/journals to submit the Night essay if it fails to place in either the Creative Nonfiction or the Iowa Review contests. I didn't have time for much else.

Someone emailed me back about PJ's wanted ad: a nice young hipster couple. I hope it works out. I have zero patience for much these days, and poor Peej gets the brunt of it. I am in planning and escape mode: I can't wait to be on my way.

My Statement of Purpose

Last year, every school rejected me. This year, all but one have not rejected me. While much of my manuscript has been (or will be) published online, I thought I would share my SOP after the jump. When it came time to write this, I searched high and low for "winning" examples. I only found a few.

Not that I think this is the best statement ever. Already, I cringe in spots when I re-read it. But it was mentioned in two of my acceptance calls, so I figured it couldn't HURT the discussion. I have stripped all identifying sentences (note: this was modified for each school, most notably in the last couple of paragraphs).

Sunday, March 13, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 209

Not since I quit smoking have I committed myself so successfully to a thing as this writing exercise. I just wanted to note that to myself, out loud as it were.

I'm not always driven. Most days, I would gladly stay nestled under the blankets, surfacing only to read or order in some Chinese food. I have to fight daily against my nature, which would rather put off until later those unpleasant and boring tasks that make up so much of a life.

It seems, though, that I can only succeed in one direction at a time. Either I am running and working out and looking great, OR I am writing every day, submitting, and revising, OR I am knitting great piles of presents and apparel and designing patterns. My brain can't seem to do all three. So, these past seven months, I've gotten saggy and achey, the yarn is dusty and unmoved, but the words have piled up in great mountains.

I would like to think that once school starts, I will be able to spend a small bit of attention on one of the other two. Is this crazy? Will I be too freaked out and exhausted to do anything but school work? Won't there be time for a morning run or swim at the Rec center? Can I knit during lectures? Should I not worry about such tiny things just yet?

The last thing I did this evening (before writing this post) was write for an hour. I drafted next week's 52/250 and started to move around the text in the blackbird essay. I have a market that I want to try it on, and the deadline is April 15th. So much is due on the 15th: I'm glad my taxes, at least, are done.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 208

I wrote a whopping 250 words today for Friday's 52/250. I know, I know, please, hold your applause until everyone's name has been called.

I feel like I've made my decision about school, but I can't really MAKE it until all the facts are in evidence. Which will be after spring break. Which is next week. So I keep thinking the same things over and over. Asking the same questions and trying out different answers.

I also tried to compile all of my old cnftweets. I can't believe I wasn't writing those down. There's no record before November, and it seems like I had a bunch in September and October.

That's all I can really string together, cogent thoughts-wise. Good night, spider monkeys and snow leopards.

Friday, March 11, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 207

You know what's both the best and worst position for an over-analyzer to be in? The place with many options and tons of non-equal metrics.

I reached a place of overstimulation this afternoon. I got some great notes back from Faculty at KSU, heard from a U Washington student, and sat on pins and needles all day waiting to hear back from TTU (all I heard was that word is on it's way).

When I got home from work, I finished a book written by one of my -possible- professors. It is a moving and arresting account, and made me want very badly to be his student.

Now, I am going to dive into another book. One that has been on the shelf for awhile, and that I had no intention of reading next, but which might contain a complementary subtext that speaks to this last book.

When I hear some MFA hopefuls (or some current grad students) start talking about critical theory, I feel very uneducated and behind. This feeling has always motivated me to find out, to know. My mind is so full it feels like the gray matter is swirling like a Japanese whirlpool. I am going to submerge myself in this novel and maybe fall asleep early.

I hope there is some dreamy hint, some hidden sign while I sleep, that points the next way.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 206

Coney Island has found a home! I will surely throw a link up when it is posted, but in the meantime, check out the new digs: Used Furniture Review.

Many conversations were had today over phone and email, about my future.
  • The University of Arizona has offered me a fully funded spot for two years in their MFA.
  • A current student of KSU had nothing but lovely things to say about the town and program. But he did say living alone would be tough on the stipend.
  • I exchanged emails with someone I consider a mentor, she said keep my options open.
  • University of Washington said I could always take extra lit classes while I work on my thesis.
  • I called Portland State and declined their offer. 
  • A professor at a completely unrelated college who barely knows me from Adam strongly recommended in favor of MA > PhD
  • Despite repeated refreshes of my Yahoo mail, the director at Tech has not responded to my Monday email full of questions. I sent another email (about just one question) to a different faculty member who I hope could help.  I am a little scared that all the attentiveness of last weekend was... could it have been... a show? When do I follow up? Next week is their Spring Break.
  • I posted a craigslist ad for my cat, but I may chicken out of it. Do you need a cat? Do you live in the greater Phoenix area?
Hahahahahahahaha. It's so crazy. It's just so damn different than it has been in so long! I am on the brink of a great big "do-over." Where I follow a dream instead of a fantasy. Is that too cheesy?

It's pretty cheesy.

I have always just coasted along with what was happening around me, afraid to steer myself. It's a hard habit to break (which is why I am asking everyone's advice. Overandoverandover. Poor everyone.) But this is what I want to do. Not what I can do, not what is easiest or kindest. This will push me and make me grow, which is something I have usually avoided.

Want to weigh in? What would you do? What would Kurt Vonnegut do? What would Janis Joplin do? What about Zonker?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 205

The plot thickens!

I had a long conversation today with Maya Sonenberg about the University of Washington. It turns out that the funding waitlist I am on, is for FULL funding. No tuition, health insurance, plus a slightly larger stipend than TTU. That is officially a better offer. If I get it.

I was telling her about my concerns about where I am educationally and how that relates to the MA, and her response was, "Don't sell yourself short. You got in here." Which is a very good point.

So what if I do an MFA and then a PhD? That would shore up my lit classes, give me more exposure to teaching etc, etc. The domino effect of THAT conversation is that I got excited about Wyoming again.

Then I wrote a long email full of questions to KSU (since I can't go visit). The letter back was really wonderful. It sounds like the campus is big and beautiful in an agg-school grandiose way like Tech (though the grad school offices are in the basement of the English building). But the town has a lot more in terms of green spaces: parks, trails, etc. Which I dig. Plus the campus has a botanical garden. (!!!)

The luxury and torture of choice! I really don't want to pick the wrong school. Because once I'm there, if it is between taking a break and a loan, I'll take out the loan. And THAT will make me nuts, just like the debt I have now makes me crazy and sad and stuck.

The good news for someone is that now that I have seen the official offer letter from Portland State, I will be politely (and graciously and damn--regretfully) declining it tomorrow. It is the coolest that they want me, and Tom Bissell seems like he would be a fantastic professor, but I just can't see going into debt to the tune of $40k or more when so many funded offers are on the table. That's crazy talk.

I have yet to hear what Arizona is offering--though if I get a TAship, it is apparently "usually granted" for both years. Hopefully they tell me soon. And at this point, I am not willing to entertain Penn State. I will assume rejection to keep my open slots to 6 (!!!!) which will be 5 (!!!!!!!!) tomorrow.

What would you do: go for an MA and hope that you got accepted into an MFA in two more years, or go for the MFA now and try for a PhD in two years? Wait. Don't answer.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 204

I miss my twitter writer friends. The new commute is so short there isn't any time to tweet.

Oh, yeah. And the University of Washington dropped a line accepting me into their program. I'm beyond floored, y'all. BEYOND. Giddy. Hopeful. Ridiculous. So! Excited!

Here's where we stand (for those of you keeping score at home):

  • Texas Tech (biggest pro: great program/faculty; biggest con: not quite totally funded)
  • Kansas State (biggest pro: nature/science faculty; biggest con: higher cost of living than Tech/lower pay)
  • UofWash (biggest pro: David Shields/Seattle; biggest con: waitlist for funding)
  • UofAZ (biggest pro: one of the top 2 nonfiction programs; biggest con: only funded one year at a time-so no guarantee)
  • Portland State (biggest pro: Portland; biggest con: no funding at all)
  • UofWyoming (biggest pro: best program by far; biggest con: I think I want an MA first)
  • Penn State (biggest pro: reputation/funding; biggest con: I think I want an MA first)
Today was unproductive: it was spent almost entirely sitting in a cube stifling giggles and chair dancing when no one was looking.

The MA thing. I need the foundation that an MA could give me. The more I think about it, the more I believe these next two years could improve my basic knowledge of literature AND of the graduate school process. Making me even MORE ready for an MFA in two years, or maybe even a PhD. Who knows? Unless something really dramatic happens in the Maybe and Waiting columns, it looks like it's a toss up between TTU and KSU right now.

Monday, March 7, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 203

One of my poetry submissions was rejected. I wish I knew whether or not the poetry was good. The fact that the editor sent a curt and formulaic email leads me to believe that he/she didn't like it. They seem to talk more when it's close but not quite there.

I also sent a novella to the director at Texas Tech. There are some money things I want more detail on, and some curriculum issues I wanted clarified.

At the day job, I was mostly formatting information, rather than creating it. It was wild to hear the Tech Comm & Rhetoric folks at Tech getting all fired up about the theory behind what I do every day.

I've also started one of the professor's books. Is this ass-kissing, or research? It's a genuinely gripping book, does that change the potentially ass-kissing nature of reading it?

All I can think about, all I want to talk about, is what happens in August. I have a month to figure it out. Whatever it is, it's going to be good.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 202

My plane trip started at 5:50 am this morning. I slept a bit on the first leg. On the second leg, I was knitting and thinking about a story that happened in New Orleans (one of the other prospective grad students and I discussed NOLA several times and it was on my mind, I suppose). After thinking for a few minutes, I grabbed my notebook and scratched out 5 nearly illegible half pages before I ran out of steam. It was good, to be back to a pen and some words.

The rest of the day was a haze of sleep deprivation. I couldn't nap, but couldn't really think either. I'm about to start a book by one of my (maybe!) future professors.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 201

Tech has definitely impressed me, y'all. I am serious. Today's itinerary was a bit more relaxed. After talking for a couple of hours with a few faculty members and getting a tour of the campus, two of the other prospectives and I spent the afternoon wandering the town of Lubbock.

The faculty and my "cohort" might just be the deal breaker here, as they are both great. I have some things to consider and weigh and what not--and I still have two schools left to report. No decision was made this week, but at one point in a meeting today with about 20 prospective students, the Director of Creative Writing responded to one of my questions by referring specifically to the types of things that I write. He knew about my work without a prompt--that was a powerful moment. And the nonfiction professor already has an assignment for me: an unsolved homicide in town. (Exciting and a little hilarious.) I have so many cell phone numbers right now, of faculty, cohort, other grad students. The vibe of openness and earnest INTEREST in my attending was strong. It felt good.

Shout out to my newest follower, Lyndsey, who found me via Xenith. That rocks, too.

Friday, March 4, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 200

Boy, talk about a culmination. Two-hundred days later, and I spent the whole day talking about myself as though I were in fact a writer. I imagined two years of just writing. I day dreamed, bonded with like-minded individuals, strolled dark overfull stacks in an amazing library...

And while Texas Tech was effectively and seductively wooing me, Kansas State sent an email: Yes! Yes! Yes!

Many things to think about, now.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 199

I have arrived in Lubbock, TX. It was a long travel day that started with half a day of technical writing. I submitted Coney Island to another journal.

On the eve of my 200th day as a writer (for real), this writer is beat. Good night, cyber-cherubim.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 198

I'm very stoked to note that Colleen nominated my blog for a Style award. Please go read her inspirational blog this minute (and then come back).

I would love to have the time to write up the reciprocal post, but I am packing for Lubbock tonight. Yee-haw.

I have never "visited" a college before. My heart was set on PNCA from the beginning--one, because it never occurred to me that I might get into other schools; and two, because I couldn't afford to go anywhere else. I toured the building, but it was with the full knowledge that I wanted to go to there.

This tour is different. Tech is trying to convince me (me, you guys!) to attend. It's surreal, really.

I was just talking to a friend about how I never shaved my legs in college. I stopped shaving around high school (I was a hippie, I'll admit it) and didn't start again until my marriage collapsed four years out of college. Those eight years of hairy legs seemed to last forever. But that was almost twenty years ago.  It seems longer ago than that that I had no idea what I wanted to really do with my life--but it's only been three years. Like Barbara Krueger's My Pretty Pony: time has stretched and doubled over and wound around. When I think about how much has changed in those last three years, I am astounded. The day to day of my life, my aspirations, my fundamental wants--everything has changed completely. Who takes this long to figure out their shit? Me. I do.

And let the record show: I still don't have it all figured out, I just have a whole new plan.

Anyway. I have to pack. I am nervous about this visit for petty and not so petty reasons. I want to be liked, I want to be successful. I want to fit in with my potential cohort, and I want to stand out. It's like a blind date with your whole senior class.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 197

I was able to watch an episode of House tonight, knit a few rows, AND submit two shorts from last year to a couple of journals.

Now that the starlings have a home, it is time to get Utah and Coney Island out of the nest. I made a couple of changes to the Utah piece but left Coney Island as is for now--it hasn't been rejected from too many places yet.

I sent an email today to the Director of Wyoming's MFA program, asking if "falling back" on the TTU MA would hurt my chances to reapply to UW in two more years. She said it would not. No decision has been made: I still want to see what UA and PSU are going to send, as far as funding options go, and visit Texas Tech. Plus, I am still waiting to hear back from three schools (though one of them is an assumed rejection).

Anyone out there want my cat? He is not coming.