Man, I fell into a hole for the past year. Sorry about that. Since starting this program, I’ve become aware just how difficult time management can be and what that does to ones work. These past two semesters have been pretty intense (and great). When you dedicate yourself to something as all-consuming as graduate school—at least, my experience thus far—you lose a bit of the bigger picture. At least I did, I think.
Our culture, mirrored as it always is by its business practices, is obsessed with metrics and how we, individually, are doing at any given time. Instead of profit margins and web analytic data, we’re concerned with more quotidian kinds of things: from how many calories eaten, or how many friends “liked” our comments on Facebook, to how much we make and spend as a signifier of our importance. We spend time thinking about how much time we spend and how wisely. So add the mild-to-extreme compulsion of writing to this broad cultural claim and it exacerbates and multiples that ledger effect: how many words can I get out a day, how many stories can I get published, how many books can I write. As a student, it’s both unnerving and powerfully seductive.
Or maybe this is just me. I think writers might begin as astute observers of minutiae: the shaky hands of a grandparent, the curl of cheap linoleum, the way the air in summer feels like your breathing in something lost and stupid from childhood. We look to these details to find exactly what we’re doing here. I’m going to take this image and try to understand it. I’m going to make something that is supposed to mean something to others.
I’m going to keep trying to do that, make meaningful things. I started something I hope will turn into a novel (my first). There’s a thesis I have to compile, that unsellable collection of short fiction that I love so dearly and fiercely it makes me no fun at parties.
Also, I’m trying, along with several friends, to give to the world another literary journal, something we’re calling Pinball, a project we’ve received funding and some great submissions for already. Stay tuned for it.
A quick recommendation: Helen DeWitt’s Lightning Rods is probably the drollest, funniest, and depressing book I’ve read in a long time. Pick it up. It’s great.
I wish you the best, dear reader. Courage. Courage and hugs.