Silence, the Move, and the Point of an MFA

I feel like I haven’t written anything in a month. And not just here in this blog, but in general. Draft Zero was unceremoniously put “on hold” as life events that felt as if they were completely out of my control came racing into the foreground. I mean, I shouldn’t complain; as of the time I’m writing this entry I still have a job and I have a roof over my head. Granted, that roof is no longer in Dearborn, Michigan, but rather in Buffalo, New York. So that’s a pretty big life change. I didn’t really expect to move, though deep down I think we all know that I kind of needed to, and when I made the decision it wasn’t a long, drawn-out thing. I rented a U-Haul, took a weekend, moved 95% of my stuff to my new apartment, and then lived in a hotel for two weeks.

Two weeks, and I’m flat broke. I honestly have no idea how I’m going to make rent next month.

But where does this leave me and my writing? Well, nowhere. It’s exactly where I left it the last time I blogged. I’ve opened my notebooks and the Scrivener file, and yet all I’ve done is worried about every other goddamned thing in my life. Writing was, is, and always will be some kind of release for me, and yet when I needed it the most it completely fucking vanished. And NOW? *sigh* Now I don’t even have a desk to write ON. I’m going to have to go to a library every single day if I want to write (which wouldn’t be SO bad because there’s no air conditioning at my apartment and I can’t even open the windows thanks largely in part to the fact that I have no screen in the window) until I can make enough money to at least attempt to put a desk in my room.

Oh. Also, I have yet to unpack my stuff. I officially moved yesterday so I’m giving myself a little leeway here.

But now I’m here in Buffalo, I’ve been thinking about something — going back to UB and getting my MFA. How awesome would that be, right? Yay graduate school! Except… now that I’m finally sitting here writing on Pomodoro Time, I’m wondering if that would even be worth it. I mean, is it worth it? Is an MFA in creative writing something that is even necessary? What would I learn in graduate-level writing courses that couldn’t be taught to me in undergraduate-level courses? I’m still looking into it; simply because if I could get some financial aid that fat refund check would be awesome.

Ugh. This millennial needs to start looking for a second job and do it on the double.


Camp NaNoWriMo: Day 5

8566 / 50000

I just realized something: on Day 1 I wrote that I was working on Tequila Mockingbird, but… it turns out that I haven’t been working on this particular novel at all these last few days. No. I’ve been working on SOCIAL, the Divergent-esque saga that I’ve been trying to put together for the last year or so (perhaps even longer than that). This is the story that I sat in a Starbucks in Middletown, New Jersey and started working out with my best friend (and author himself!). Granted, I had the idea down before I’d gotten together in that Starbucks with him, but he helped me get through a bulk of the “problem spots” that I’d been powering through. Or, at least, trying to power through. Sometimes it’s just extraordinarily difficult for me to write, well, anything.

I’ve come to find out that a lot of why I really enjoy writing is that I have control over the lives of my characters. I may not have control over my own life, so I can sublimate that into all of the characters that I’ve thrown down on paper. And I would really like to say that I’ve never done anything awful to any of my characters, but… I’d be a liar if I said that *angel face*

Five down, twenty-six to go. Let’s get this done.

Is it bad that this post bothers me?

Anyone else see the big grammar no-no?
Anyone else see the big grammar no-no?
Because it does. Like, a lot.

Okay, yes. I am very much aware that not all of us use perfect grammar every time we go on social media, and yes, I am very much aware of the fact that I rarely start tweets with capital letters for aesthetic effect. But this was posted in a writers’ community on Facebook. A community of people who call themselves writers, ranging from published and established to just starting out and needing a little moral support. A writers’ group. I would think, nay I would hope that by this point in the game they’re a little more… well… competent than the two people who are engaging in this here conversation. The names have been blurred to protect the innocent, though I’m not really sure if they are all that innocent.

Here’s the point of this entry: I haven’t really gotten anything written in close to two weeks. A few lines here, a paragraph there, but other than that? Absolutely nothing. I once heard that you can’t think your way out of writer’s block, but you have to write your way out of thinker’s block. This entry is my way of writing my way out of thinker’s block.

I hope.

We’ve All Got Books In Us

How many people do you know who have said that they should sit down and write a novel? And not just a novel, but the Great American Novel, one that will be so grand and so amazingly incredible that it will be studied for decades to come! I feel that everyone that I know has said this at least once in their lives. The truth is that 80% of all Americans feel as if they have a novel in them dying to get out. And that 80% of Americans will, at some point in their lives, sit down and attempt to bang that novel out.

Now, why am I bringing this up? I mention this because, of these 80% of Americans who have a novel inside of them that is desperate to get out, only a handful of them will ever reach the level of fame that they hope to achieve when they first set out to write. The others will spend their lives writing and writing and churning out page after page, writing more for themselves and a smaller audience than the entire world, and they will never know what it’s like to have a line wrapped around their local Barnes and Noble to get their books autographed.

What I have seen online and in print even is that the rich and famous 1% of 1% of authors are the ones who are always encouraging you to write. Yet the ones who are trying to make a living, just barely scraping by with their own notions that they are, in fact, going to be rich due to their craft, are the ones who will tell you not to even bother. Writing and publishing a novel are very time-consuming activities, and can ultimately be a waste of time.

Am I trying to discourage someone from writing? Of course not! Some of us write as a form of escape, as a form of therapy. And I would never discourage someone from getting their ideas down on paper, even if they never really amount to anything. Roughly 80,000 books are published in this country alone every year, and a good number of those are absolutely unwanted and unnecessary. Yet, these books continue to be published, and may even be purchased at some point or another. This is why people continue to write to be published. Someone somewhere someday may just want to read the book that you’ve had in you!


Where to Write

Recently I purchased a MacBook Pro, to replace a seven-year-old MacBook that had absolutely seen better days. While it’s true that this laptop has bigger teeth than the one that it was replacing, and more memory (which makes it a lot easier to listen to my 8600+ song music library) than I really know what to do with, making it a little more computer than I know how to handle. And while the technology may in a sense elude me, I have been able to integrate all of the programs that I’ve used in my writing: TextWrangler, Scrivener, and the old favorite Microsoft Word.

Almost as important as what you’re going to write, is where you’re going to write. You may not think that is as crucial as I’m making it out to be, but believe me. If you’ve set aside two hours to write, and you spend half of that trying to get comfortable, you’re going to defeat yourself before you even get started.

Panera Bread
PRO: Numerous electrical outlets and free Internet, not to mention free refills on soft drinks and coffee, and some of the best “fast” food in the Lehigh Valley. There is a very good chance that you will not be asked to leave, simply because by being there you’re actually buying their goods.
CON: Kids and families make a lot of noise — they might have even been the reason that you went to Panera in the first place.

Starbucks Coffee
PRO: Coffee. Coffee, and coffee-based drinks, and not-so-coffee-based drinks. The Internet is also free here.
CON: The tables are sparse, as are the electrical outlets. The music may be a little too loud for everyone’s taste, and may not be the kind of music that you even want to listen to.

Barnes and Noble
PRO: Books at your fingertips, so if you ever get stuck with a character or a plot, you can browse and see what’s already on the shelves. The Internet here is also free, and you can get almost anything that you would be able to get at Starbucks.
CON: The tables are small and there are no outlets, so whatever power you’ve come is all that you have.

The Public Library
PRO: Same as Barnes and Noble, you have books by the ton at your disposal, more reference than anything. Most libraries have free Internet, and plugs scattered throughout the building so you can find more than one nook to take over as your own. Libraries also have computers of their own that, with a valid library card, you can use for a time.
CON: Moms who bring their kids to the library with them and let them run around like heathens. Libraries are historically supposed to be quiet, and some people do not adhere to this rule. Also, some libraries don’t allow outside food or drink, so bringing something to snack on could prove to be difficult.

Lehigh Valley Mall
PRO: I know this is going to sound weird, but stay with me. What better place can you go to people watch? Find a table, use the mall’s free Internet, and find yourself a character.
CON: It’s… the mall. There aren’t many places to sit that aren’t Barnes and Noble or Starbucks, and even then you often get the strangest looks if you pull out a laptop (or worse, pen and paper) in the middle of the mall.

Becoming a Writer — Through the Words of Writers

“The first draft of anything is shit.” — Ernest Hemingway
These are words to live by for any author, whether they are a beginner or an elite. The first draft of anything that you put down on paper is going to suck. Regardless of how amazing you might thing what you’ve written is, the first thing you’re going to have to realize is that there is a strong possibility that what you’ve just written is lousy. it’s lousy, and it needs to be fixed. Terribly. Unfortunately, a number of people do not realize this about their writing. They honestly feel that their writing is perfect and does not need any polishing whatsoever. Those are usually the people who need the most help. If you realize that not everything you do is perfect, you’re on your way to becoming a writer.

“Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well.” — Stephen King
When one first sets out to become a writer, they often think that all they need is a killer idea and an amazing novel and they’ll be rubbing elbows with the Hollywood A-list and the literary elite. But the truth of the matter is, there is no money in writing. Northampton Community College English professor Javier Ávila said to his creative writing class that if you’re writing for someone who is not you, you will never be a successful writer.

“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” —- George Orwell
The demon that Orwell spoke of, of course, is the writer’s Muse. More often than not, our Muses are impossible to silence, no matter how are we try. And what’s worse? Our Muses will often tell us more than one story at a time. Sometimes they use the same characters, and sometimes they try and create totally new personas for you to either integrate into a new story, or to write into the own works, so you have more than one WIP at a time.

“I do not over-intellectualize the production process. I try to keep it simple: Tell the damned story.” — Tom Clancy
Mr. Clancy’s got an excellent point. Keep it simple, stupid. That’s a phrase we’ve all heard once or twice, isn’t it. The more you try to sound extremely intelligent, the less intelligent you start to sound. Not everyone reads at a doctoral level, so don’t write at that level. The more people you can reach with your writing, the happier you will be, and the more you will validated in your life’s work.

All quotes are taken from