Sunday, November 8, 2009

In answer to a question: Balancing work and art

I just plagiarized an email to a full-time teacher who is contemplating taking the plunge into an MFA. In my defense, I told the recipient I was doing it. Here's the meat of it:

So, balance? Well, I'll be honest and say I think I did a rather poor job of it, but everything that needed to be done got done. I didn't try too many new things on the job, and I got lucky my last semester a had a wonderful, capable student teacher. But basically, I made the MFA my life. Went to bed ridiculously early so I could get up at 4am and write before work (found that after work, I was too spent to do anything but read.) Weekends were totally dedicated. I am fortunate that I have nobody to take care of or cater to except my dogs, but if you have a family, and they support you in this, it can still be done. I can hook you up with a couple of married high school English teachers, both with children, who also got through the program.

The bottom line: most of the time, the sacrifices stopped feeling like sacrifices. I finally had what felt like the perfect excuse to decline invitations-- I didn't just want to write, I had to write. It got me into a practice that I now no longer feel I have to make excuses for. It felt like an amazing gift I'd been waiting all my life to give myself. Bad sentence, but you get my meaning. I wouldn't trade the experience for anything.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009


I am not fit for company, and apologize for my long delinquency. Overwhelmed, etc, and I feel bad bitching about needing a day off when I know far too many people who have too many days off. I'm sort of sick and tired of waking up worrying about other people's kids, but it's somehow not triggering my compassionate nature. No, quite the opposite. I'm feeling particularly Melvillian and want to knock hats off heads (and suckers out of mouths and smirks off faces and you get the drift. Danger to others.) I'd really like to take to the sea today. Or the desert, forest, prairie, recliner, anywhere else really.

OK, to cheer us on our way, Neil Gaiman has linked to his Nano peptalk from 2 years ago. Thank you, Mr Gaiman, and I hope it's going well for all. I am not as far as I hoped to be by today, but still ahead of what I could be.

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