Alls Quiet on the Western Front

Big sigh. I have been holding this one in for a long time, though those of you in my inner circle (Hi Uncle Bill! Hi Debby!) have known about this for a long time…

I have been accepted into the MFA in Creative Writing program at the University of New Mexico.

So, I’m going to Albuquerque.

It all began in July 2005 at the Taos Summer Writers Conference….

I signed up for Gregory Martin’s memoir class with the intent of vacationing in Taos and learning a little more about writing. Instead, I saw little of Taos and indulged in the literary landscape of the conference. Rather than enjoying the wonderful restaurants of Taos, I gorged on the readings, the panel discussions and of course the extra stack of essays from Greg—this was in addition to the three books he assigned ahead of time. His class changed the way I looked at my writing, forcing me to see beyond the basics to craft features such as character, persona, dialog, conflict, point of view and time of writing voice.

That first conference also saw the birth of what is now my book-length project, “Reconstructing My Mother.”

For the last two and a half years I have been working on this project with my local Read and Critique group facilitated by Judy Reeves. Working with other writers has helped me stay on track producing prose.

In 2007 I was accepted into Greg Martin’s Taos Master Class so I gathered up all my writing, stuffed it into a three ring binder and called it a first draft. I knew at the time it was premature but I was eager to work with Greg again and the class was an opportunity to get a fresh perspective on my work and address it as a whole. My classmates were all talented writers, with full length manuscripts covering everything from adopting a special needs child to researching a famous naval architect father. All these other writers had master’s degrees, or law degrees. It was a little intimidating.

During my one-on-one evaluation with Greg, he said to me, “You make all these self-depracating remarks about how you’re not as smart as all these people with master’s degrees…. why don’t you just go get a master’s degree?”

In other words, he challenged me, and I took him up on it. I applied this winter, and was accepted into University of New Mexico last Wednesday. Greg called me himself.

So now I find myself excited, intimidated, scared (terrified really) and overwhelmed, but I’m going.

I’ll need to be in ABQ in August. Classes start August 20.

Wish me luck!

Taos. New Mexico. Land of Enchantment

I’m here in Taos, NM to attend the Summer Writers Conference hosted by University of New Mexico. I’ll get my whole manuscript workshopped, but not until Thursday!! Saving the best or the worst for last?

I’m already learning tons, can’t wait to apply it to my work and begin the process of revision.

Click for Taos, New Mexico Forecast

Weather is nice. but dry dry dry. I hope the life is not evaporating out of me!! and I’m drinking so much water that I feel like I am spending most of my time in the bathroom… yeah… too much information 🙂

No, Non, Niet, Nein, Nao, No y No

… and yet another “rejection” for my pile…

no scholarship for the Taos Summer Writers Conference from the A Room of Her Own foundation. And even though on my last post I said I wasn’t hopeful, I lied. I was still hopeful.

And no letter even.
Not even a thank-you-for-your-application- but-you-suck form letter.
Nope. I actually had to ask them, thus making me feel even more pathetic.

I busted my ass to put together the application, with the vague requirements of “10 pages of prose” and a short description of your work… or a cover letter, or whatever. I stressed about what to include, should I just submit what I would be working on in Taos? Should I show the broader scope of my writing abilities? No one seemed to know, everyone had a different opinion, so I was flying blind. There was no information about what kind of recipients have been awarded scholarships in the past. No way to gauge the bar. I mean what if all the recipients in the past already had MFAs and were English professors or published authors? I still would have submitted, but at least I would know the odds were not in my favor. Maybe I wouldn’t have gotten my hopes up.

So now, I’m sitting here thinking I totally suck. Yesterday I was thinking maybe just maybe it could be me. Why not me? well apparently I’m not good enough.

Not sure I’m cut out for this putting myself out there shit. How do you keep doing it, and getting rejection after rejection?

How do I reprogram the tape player in my head that is saying you suck you suck you suck????

and the hits, they keep a comin’

So now I find out I didn’t get a Leo Love Merit scholarship to the Taos Writers Conference.

No word about the Room of Her Own Foundation scholarship yet, but so far what I have is:

1. Public Radio Talent Quest. Rejected. but seriously, congrats to the round 1 winners
2. Leo Love Merit Scholarship. Rejected.
3. Room of Her Own scholarship… pending… but not hopeful at this point
4. Story submitted to … pending… won’t know until the 22nd

So think happy thoughts. Not sure if I can take 4 rejections in a row. Or at least this close together.

Anyone have any tips on how to toughen up? to not let this stuff get to you? to keep plugging away regardless? to get up and do it again tomorrow and the next day? or how do you know when you’re just kidding yourself?

I can’t believe I ate the whole thing

Yesterday marked a huge milestone for me. I managed to cobble together all my various and asundry essays and stories into a FIRST DRAFT. And, I managed to get it all printed (167 pages) copied– double sided and three hole punched– and mailed out to the participants for the master class at the Taos Writers Conference this July.
As I stood there at Kinkos watching the copy machine spit out pages of my manuscript I cried. I don’t know why. It’s happy tears, sad tears, woulda shoulda coulda tears, if only I had another day tears, am I ready to move into the revision stage tears…. how will my manuscript stack up next to everyone else’s tears. And now what am I gonna do tears.

In fact, this last month has been so hectic and insane I feel like I’m coming down from a big high. I managed to get two scholarship applications (May 1st deadline and May 15th deadline) done (for the Taos workshop) and submitted my audio audition for the public radio talent quest (May 14th deadline) and finally the whole draft of my manuscript submitted for workshop, deadline May 18th.

So now what? Well, I still have my local read and critique group. I have two chapters that I sort of just put placeholders in for the “whole draft” so I can write those…. and I’m working on some more audio stuff. And I have 8 books to read between now and July 7…. the manuscripts from my fellow workshop attendees AND the two books Greg Martin has assigned: Pharaoh’s Army by Tobias Wolf and Fierce Attachments by Vivian Gornick.

and maybe I’ll just go back to sleep….