Monday, March 25, 2013


It's a Monday in late March, and outside it snows or sleets lightly. A light snow, light sleet, dark street. Too much unfolded laundry piles up. No place in this little house to store the linens. My nose has been running for two weeks (well, why don't you run after it? get yourself in shape?).

This is not a Scintilla post.


I really do love my MFA program. I've been lucky with professors who, even when they don't quite love my style, encourage me and show me ways to get my poems where I want them to be (or where the poems want to be, sneaky, sentient buggers). I've learned a lot. I'm a better writer and reader.

I also like my schoolmates.

But sometimes, the dynamic is strained, and because I am constantly tired, I get a bit overwhelmed. I'm mostly an introvert, though it's easier for me to pretend to be outgoing and charming when I write.

ah well. It's all right. We're nearly done with the posting part of the semester. For us "thesis students," we only have a couple of weeks to go before we can quit posting and focus on revising our manuscripts, writing our introductions, making our list of 50 books that have "informed our poems." We're discussing our final common text. I, unfortunately, am the bad discussion leader. I'm better at answering questions than asking them. I'd never make it on Jeopardy. Two of my classmates are professors or former professors. The third is an outgoing and delightful media expert who has her finger in poetry journals as an editor and often offers prompts, etc., online.

I am none of the these things. I'm an ex-journalist, editor, mother, not-quite-ex-wife, band booster, novelist wannabe. And, yes, I've taught creative writing workshops, but that doesn't make me a teacher. Maybe I'll say, "I've led creative writing workshops." And when it's high school and younger participants, it's utterly different.

Adults ... I don't know. I find them a tougher audience, always have.

When I was a teenager living in an American Army housing area in Germany, I had a reputation among the Army brat teens for "playing with little kids" instead of hanging out with my peers. Truth was, I was an unpaid babysitter and loved it. I was not comfortable with my peers.

It's still true in some ways, though I have many wonderful adult friends, some writers, some other things. Now I find that I love teenagers and don't mind spending gobs of time with them.

I've drifted, but that's what this post is, a drifting, thinking through, relaxing, letting go.

Too many professors in one classroom spoil the class. A discussion leader is not "Professor for a day." She's just a student who is supposed to keep the discussion going.

And I am and will continue tomorrow.

But no more tonight. I'm done being a student.

I'm going to turn back into mother, not-quite-ex-wife (permanently separated but dear friends), poet who writes poems because she loves to write poems, cat slave, reader, slacker, novelist wannabe.

My cat wants his late-night snack, and I have sheets to fold.

good night.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Start fresh

Tomorrow begins the second annual The Scintilla Project: a fortnight of storytelling. I'll let you (whoever you are) read about the project on your own. My friend Kim is one of the "founders," and I have a huge amount of respect for her as a writer and as a human being, so when she mentioned it was time for Scintilla again, I got all warm and happy.

I don't know how much time I'll be able to put in to writing and reading, since I'm deep in the throes of thesis ordering and revision (next draft due March 25, final draft due April 29. I have months of work to accomplish in the seven weeks before that final draft is due). Plus critiques of classmates' manuscripts. Plus book responses and discussions on those book responses. Plus other life stuff that must be done because, yeah, life (and love).

This last non-residential semester of my MFA has been challenging in different ways from the other three. I find that the deeper I go into studying the art of poem making (and the art of making a book of poems), the more I question the quality of my work. My work improves. I think. Or maybe the more I think about it, the worse it gets. I don't really know. I am at the point where trying not to think, trying to revise, trying to write new, trying to be kind to myself is ... silly. I'm going to stop trying. I am going to stop thinking about the quality of the work and simply do the work.

We are on Spring Break, but it doesn't feel like a break.

Today, I've been giving most of my time to my work, my poems. I even started drafting one called "Undivorced" while I showered. Amazing that I remembered the lines after I rinsed my hair, dried off, got dressed, responded to my daughter's texts, hunted through the house for a folder of important things related to the college she will attend in the fall, chugged part of a bottle of water, blessed the cat when he sneezed....

That I remembered the lines after all those things and all that time gives me hope that I can make a poem of this, though I'm already questioning whether it's a poem, something I need to stop doing. Whatever it is, it wants me to write it.

So that's what I'll do.

All this blathering on is to say that I'm going to participate in Scintilla for as long as I have the time, for as long as I feel I can do the prompts justice. I hope to meet some new bloggers and reconnect with "old" friends.

I hear a siren. I'm grateful that it's cry grows fainter instead of louder.