Monday, January 07, 2008

Storm's a'brewin'!

You know how there’s an arch type of old men sitting on the porch rocking away telling you that a storm’s a’brewin’! cause they can feel it in there knees? Well someone get me a rocking chair.

I have been developing the worst sinus headaches whenever a storm’s about to show up, the barometer rises or, like today, general ickiness ensues. The effect is not pleasant.

I’ve always gotten horrible headaches – As a child my mother thought I just ate chewable Tylenol so much because I liked the taste. Ick and no. – but for the past couple of years I’ve been able to keep them under control by staying away from the three big no-nos that always cause me pain: red wine, Splenda and tofu/MSG. Why do I lump tofu and MSG together? Because supposedly your body handles processed tofu in the same way it handled MSG. Darn, no to-furkey for me.

But my new weather-telling ability seems to negate all my careful no-tofu planning. I guess the good news is that a combination of decongestants, pain killers, and some time spent curled into a little ball make it pass.

I received notification from the Kenyon Review that I have been offered a spot in their summer 2008 program! This is not an MFA program (too early to hear back from them yet) but it is the fabulous weeklong workshop I attended last summer as a “Fiction for New Writers” participant. “New Writers” had to submit a résumé but not a writing sample to get in. However, to move up from the “New Writers” workshop group to the “Fiction” workshop this year I had to submit a writing sample for them to read. *Dances!* And now I’m in the Fiction Workshop, nothing “New” about it!

I started in on my first JanNo, actually my first WriMo ever. (Details) And it quickly became an obsession. I am currently at 14,387 words written since January 1, 2008. Which is about four or five times the amount of original fiction I wrote in the month of December.

The greatest part is the community forum boards. People are constantly posting, requesting help plotting, sharing trials, posting successes and generally being supportive of each other. And every so often I find out that one of the posters is 15 – or worse, 12 – and I choke a little. You’re 12 and you’ve already written 20,000 words on one single story? I’ve ... well I’ve never done that, not for one single story. My senior thesis clocked in at just under 18,500 and that took months!

And then spider attacked my writing desk Aah!

I took a break from JanNo to write on The Trees but stopped just shy of where it starts to get interesting, and posted that, due in great part to Jud dropping hints like bombshells.

Then I finally decided to check out the forum boards that Poets&Writers magazine has online. I'm uncertain why I avoided these prior to completing the bulk of my MFA applications. They would have been a great resource; however, knowing what I do now about them, I think it is a good thing I didn’t find them.

They call the boards their “Speak Easy” and I’m not sure why they thought the title was so cute. If there actually was alcohol involved I might be of a different opinion. Instead, they offer up nothing but a taste of desperation.

Like some sort of information clutching archivist, P&W has not cleaned out these boards since they were first created in 2004. And, as best I can tell, does not allow the casual browser to create her own thread. The result: popular threads that are thousands of entries long.

Who really wants to sort through all that? Not I, said the Speak Coffee.

Nervous would-be MFA candidates are already making noises about when they’re going to hear back. And swapping stories of when such-n-such top school made the first round of phone calls last year.

Letters are bad, they tell you. Acceptances only come by phone or email. If they sent you a letter, it has a rejection in it.

Why am I reading this stuff?!?!

I had been warned about the P&W boards: that they suck you in, waste hours of your life and eventually steal your soul.

That I’m certain is true and sound advice. Especially as no one – no one – is getting a call in the month of January. Academia does not move that fast. Period.

So I shook my head in wonder and disbelief, cleaned off the trail of spider guts from my desk where I’d helped the little guy to his final moments, and cocooned myself in my JanNo. Better a productive obsession than an unproductive one.

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