A few months ago a writing pal passed along a link to Dennis Cass’ post discussing his version of an idealized MFA program, an alternative MFA. Cass’ point of view was that traditional MFA curriculums were filed with blanks, specifically outside of craft development, as done through workshops, and outside (perhaps) literary criticism, as done through massive reading work.
This struck a cord with me, it sounded about right, so I went off and built one of my own, what I call myMFA, it’s outlined in detail, along with the schedule of how I implemented it in 2009 and 2010, after the jump…
Sharon Mesmer is on the short list for the next Brooklyn Poet Laureate to succeed Ken Siegelman.
It really isn’t a contest is it? She has to get the nod.
In a story Gene Kuntzman did for the The Brooklyn Paper he wrote:
blockquote>”Mesmer will get the vote of anyone who likes a randy dame who’s not afraid to write poems with titles like “Annoying Diabetic Bitch” and “Holy Mother of Monkey Poo.”
“If anyone is suggesting me [as poet laureate], it must be because I slept around so much,” she said. But she’s being modest: Mesmer, who studied under Allen Ginsberg, teaches at the New School and, this fall, at Brooklyn College.
A great way to waste time not writing is to set up your system for managing writing time during the time when you should be writing.
I used to write non-stop, heads-down till my body collapsed, lost in the tunnel of creativity, absorbed with characters and stories. While exciting and vaguely mystical, this is not a long haul strategy for writing sucess. Eventually things (like, you) begin to break down.
Somewhere along the way, I think from the Scrivener boards, I learned of a system for working in periods of forty-eight minutes followed by breaks of twelve minutes. The idea was to train the subconscious to visit during the twelve to help the creative process along.
Easy to adopt, right? All you need is a great timer, because if it works you’re fully absorbed during the 48 and will/should/hope to lose track of time until the bell goes off.
So I had to go find the right timer. Don’t laugh, this is a big deal and it can take dozens of hours of frittering to try them all and get just the right one….
In response to a question on another site…
“Once you have written down the inspiration that comes to you, then what?”
Outline, reorder, revise, wrestle with syntax, realize that there is no message or point, start over….Get to same place, cry, make coffee, read someone else’s work, say “I can do better than that”, start over, fail again, make choice between Martini or scotch, check facebook, read emails, call a friend, fritter, decide to give it another run…Find original point is not that bad, re-outline, like the way it looks, fill in gaps, change “its” to “it’s”, check spelling, publish, collapse exhausted and get another Martini…
Or something like that.
All these writing exercises, many under time constraints – “Please do a character development using dialogue and no description for the next 12 minutes” – become like unconstrained mini-therapy, without the benefit of professional interpretation.
“You are not the narrator…” Sure I’m not. I’m supposed to connect with my “conscious, make friends with it” and “take a stand in your work”. If I really took a stand everyone in the room would fall down.
I’m learning that artists stand naked. Perhaps that’s why they are hunched over all the time.
Also posted in Best Of
Are we better off with all the writer’s and researcher’s tools on our PCs?
I look down at my MacBook’s desktop, and staring back at me is a monster. A jumble of incomprehensible and expanding piles of electronic icons spill and shuffle around as if the sorter cubbies on top of a roll top desk had just collapsed. I think, if Mark Twain had a laptop this is what it would have looked like.
The nice thing about the physicality of books, printed pdfs, and paper journals is their hard edged presence and volume. Having them piled up around you reminds you of things; like how much you’ve done, and how much you need to do. That volume of paper communicates what you have to do, and more importantly, it gives you a gauge of what you can do.
So where does that leave Sente, Zotero, Pages, EndNote, OneNote, DEVONThink, Together and Journler…