Tuesday, March 08, 2011

How I'm Learning to Stop Worrying & Love the MFA

I'm trying to balance a full-time job with what amounts to another full-time job. Deputy Director of a Business Improvement District/Fairfield MFA Candidate. How's it going? Well...

I'm at the office from 9am-5pm. Emails, phone calls, meetings, event planning. I'm home by 6pm and allow myself two hours to unwind (reading non-school stuff, a hot shower, a real dinner) before I'm in pajama pants and working at my other job until midnight. Writing, reading, revising. Sometimes I'm just THINKING about writing, reading and revising. Yes, thinking about the writing, reading and revising is a huge part of the process, but I must be careful not to do too much thinking or I freeze up. I'm learning this one slowly. 

Thinking about writing has begun to overlap with thinking about work. Here's a sample:

"Don't forget to bring the packets for the board meeting. Remember what Elizabeth said about slowing down when you're working on that scene. Call Brad about that meeting tomorrow. Did I put the office husband's birthday card in my datebook or in my purse? How many pages is too much for submission to a publication? Who gives a shit about what I'm writing?"

Yep, all that before 7:30am. I'm not a morning person and having that much going on in my head before I've had coffee is especially annoying.

I'm exhausted and irritable. So much so that I said I hated the writing and the reading and the revising. OK, what I said was:

"I do hate this whole process, because most days I don't know what the fuck I'm doing, but I love it more because I know what it is doing for me. Stupid character building."

As my dear old (best friend's) Dad says, "No one ever said it was going to be easy." I know it. I knew this would be hard, maybe the hardest thing I've ever done for myself. And that's my real struggle. I'm doing this for myself. I'm doing this because it's what I've always wanted. I love writing. I love reading. I love thinking, talking and learning about writing and reading. And this MFA program is the way to get more of that in my life.

Only took 38 years to figure that one out. I always was a late bloomer.


Elizabeth Hilts said...

Now you're getting it.

ajoconnell said...

I feel you on this. When I entered the MFA program I found that it was the hardest thing to do just because I wanted to do it so much. I was working long hours at the beginning, and trying to make the mental jump from my two jobs to my creative work was exhausting in and of itself.
It does get easier, though. At least, it did for me.

Phil said...

When your memoirs make it to the NYTimes bestseller list, you'll be able to quit your job and not worry about that side.

little erin said...

ugh i hear you. this is all a process. and you're doing so good! love you!

Kate said...

I'm in the same boat with the full-time jobness, though I have yet to get into a good routine during the week and save all of my writing/reading for weekends. I do like your routine of decompress, PJs and writing 'til midnight. Mind if I steal?

Keep on keepin' on. Can't wait to hear/read some of it (hopefully) in July!

Daisy said...

Just when I'm feeling isolated and crazy, you all come along and remind me that I'm not alone. The best.