Monday, March 21, 2011

Fork me, I'm Irish!

This isn't going to be a pity party (though I'll still cry if I want). This post won't be filled with excuses, rationalizations or sour grapes, though I'm sure it could be if I chose. This is to just express the irony involved in the fact the only motivation I have to write is to write about the fact I have no motivation to write.

Wow, a writer that lacks motivation, stop the presses! And since newspapers are dying, we're going to pretend the 'presses' in this case are pressing grapes... the sour grapes that so many writers seem to have. But press and let those sour grapes ferment long enough and you have wine, the fuel of all the best writers, hakuna matatah, let's drink.

I'm not going to pretend I'm different from any other write. Nothing I've gone through is unique, nothing I've done noteworthy. My failures no worse to endure, occurring with no greater frequency. Nothing I've struggled with worse than what hundreds, probably thousands, possibly even millions of other writers are also struggling with.

In fact, in many ways I've had it pretty easy. So, what makes me special? Why should anyone care? Nothing, and they shouldn't. That's the point. I simply have a blog, so am using it, like thousands of other very special and unique writer snowflakes. Though, this blog won't be all the things I mentioned it won't be (this time), which may actually make it a bit different from some of the other writing blogs I've seen.

The point: I used to dread the potential for rejection in the MFA process; and in general, but the MFA process is a particular beast. I mean, you spend a lot of time and energy and money, precious, limited money, applying to schools that get to judge your worth and effectively decide many of your future plans as a student, writer, teacher, and in many growing literary circles perhaps even your status (we say it doesn't matter, but we also know it does, otherwise it wouldn't come up in every discussion and writers bio ever).

Now, after receiving 5 out of 8 rejections, my actual fear is that one of the remaining three will accept me. Then what am I to do? I used to want that validation, some measure I was on the right track and going in a direction that was worth supporting. Even if it was to just say fuck you, I wanted the chance to do that. I felt I required acceptance and validation, one way or another.

But now I feel my ticket's been punched, and certainly not with validation (that's a parking garage reference, a job I would not-literally-but-figuratively kill to go back in time to when I had it).

Wow, a writer seeking validation, stomp the presses! Judge all you want, I know I am, but like I said, my rejections are no worse, nor with greater frequency, than any other writer. I'm no different. But they are my rejections, and with them I get to do what I please. What I seem to be doing, even against what were once my best efforts and intentions, is taking it as a sign or a heavy dose of reality or however one wants to look at it.

Wow, a writer looking for meaning in everything, this repeated formatting trope is getting tiresome!

Everything I've tried to do as a writer has been met with failure or rejection. Again, no pity party, not a shocking revelation, just an all-to-common fact. I've sent out manuscripts, entered contests, applied to MFA programs. Nothing. But I think the less tangible things have had the most meaning, like trying to volunteer my time to get experience, trying to get into advanced classes, trying to start or help maintain writing groups, trying to build rapport and community with other writers, trying to lend my services and advice to anyone that would listen. Basically, trying my best to be more than that writer who sits in solitude building a legacy that is disconnected and selfish.

I'm thankful to have had an amazing, extraordinary writing model. Someone who doesn't sit alone, but welcomes other writers with open arms as often as he can. I saw, I learned, and tried my best to do the same... and each step of the way it's led to more failure, more rejection, more frustration, and felt increasingly futile. No, not just futile, that's not the problem. In many ways I expected it all to feel futile at times.

I guess in reality I was prepared for it all, the frustration and rejection is par for the course as a writer, we mostly go through it, so what's the problem? Hell if I know. There are two states with writers. You're simply writing, or not. I'm not writing. But hell, that's not even the problem. I can get over not writing, as it's something that can be done all on my own. Writers can always write, it takes nobody else.

So I guess the problem is something else, or maybe everything else. The more I learned about writing, the more power I felt to write. But the more I learned about the non-writing stuff, the business and submissions and applications and teaching certificates and degrees and conferences and retreats and writing groups and writing programs and writing services and education and teaching and just about everyone BUT the actual writing, I learned you need someone to give you a chance, you need support, you need acceptance, and you need validation. None of which I've found.

And that's the problem. I'm to the point that if I do get some level of validation and an MFA acceptance comes through from one of my remaining schools, I already know it'll be too late. Again, not a pity party or excuses or any of that bullshit nonsense I get so sick of writers bandying about (it's just so subjective, it's just so competitive, it's just so finicky... nope, you're either judged good enough or not, end of story). And I know this problem isn't with any of these external constructs, but with me, yadda yadda psychobabble says what.

None of it changes the fact that for so long I feared not being accepted or validated. Now I fear that what I used to want and need as a writer will simply be wasted on me. That, to break this abysmal mood and return to silly analogies, my ticket will be validated for a full day's parking, but only after I decided to leave well within the first, free hour.

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