Thursday, October 30, 2014

In case you forgot...

...I write fiction. It's a thing I do.

This semester has been so busy that I'd almost forgotten, to be perfectly honest, but a few recent incidents have reminded me.

For one thing, I was up again in workshop on Tuesday. For the first time, I submitted a portion of my novel. I had hesitated to do so before because I didn't know whether it would be appropriate; there is often such an emphasis on "literary fiction"--no genre pieces (sci-fi, fantasy, horror)--in MFA programs, or at least in the idea people usually have of MFA programs. I didn't know if anyone would want to workshop my novel, since it is written for children. I don't know why I thought this, exactly--I don't think any of my friends here are snobs. Sometimes the workshop atmosphere can mess with your head a bit, though. It take a great deal of courage to submit something you've worked hard on to a group of people that you respect, knowing that their criticisms will probably be spot-on, and that there will, possibly, be many criticisms. I just didn't want to take the risk of submitting my novel. But I talked about it with Maile beforehand, and she seemed to think it was a good idea.

Fortunately, people seemed to like it. More than I thought they would, actually. In fact, it may have been the least criticism-filled workshop I have ever attended in terms of my own work. What was interesting was that they were grasping at the threads weaved into the chapter, guessing what might happen later. That was very helpful; not only did it give me ideas of what actions certain characters might take in the future, but it also made me aware of what signposts weren't strong enough. It was a relief to hear that the tone was largely on point, as I was worried about that, and that one of my characters is apparently far more fleshed out and believable than I thought she was. I haven't read through my classmates' written comments yet, but I'm looking forward to it. I am so grateful to have such intelligent, thoughtful readers looking at my work.

Will my novel be my thesis? (Oh that dreaded, looming thesis! How you haunt my days and nights.) We shall see. I wrote a little more of it last night. It was funny--I started writing at about 10:30 p.m., thinking I'd just scribble down a short scene and be done with it. I wrote for what I thought was roughly a half hour. I looked at the clock. It was 1 a.m. Who needs sleep, anyway?

I was also reminded of my writerly status by yet another--very kind--rejection email. This one was from The Masters Review, for their Halloween scary story contest. The editor informed me that they had seriously considered it, and gave me some feedback, which is a rare and wonderful thing. One of these days it's going to be an acceptance letter, you guys. One of these days.

The other day Shaun (whose poem "Vinegar" was recently published in the Misty Mountain Review) sent me information about a scholarship offered to graduate students who wish to attend the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators Conference in New York. I think I'm going to apply. If I win, it would cover tuition for the conference and for a special plot intensive session. It would definitely be helpful to get some industry feedback regarding my novel. There are some things I need to know that I don't currently know. For instance, is my novel middle grade or young adult? I honestly can't tell sometimes. They need an even smaller category in the middle of those two. I've looked up Harry Potter to see in which category people place that series, as I feel like the tone of my novel is similar, but I can't seem to find a solid answer. So I imagine discussing my work with industry professionals might be quite useful.

Alright. I suppose I'd better stop writing this blog and start writing fiction. I spent too much time this afternoon perfecting my Halloween costume--a new idea that I just had today. Luckily the thrift store gods were on my side, and I found everything I needed. Can't wait to debut it at tomorrow's Neon Lit...

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