October 23, 2009
A month later, it seems my decision is made. Not that there was much doubt as to what I would decide, I just had to slog through the detritus polluting my brain before making that final commitment. But commit I did, mailing off the application to Naropa last week and hand delivering one to Queens. (Goddard is due December 4th, but is complete and will go out sooner) For now I wait. And just in case I get bored while waiting or just in case I thought that perhaps all of this was going too easily – which really it wasn’t because it did take me three years to get here and I did write and rewrite my essays of intent and portfolio pieces about a hundred times each – the demons of doubt have already assailed me. So far in the week that my friends and acquaintances have heard the news, I’ve been asked, without a trace of understanding, “Why?” “How much?” and “What do you think that will accomplish?” I’ve also been pegged as a dilettante, an “obvious” empty nester and a woman with too much time and money. Thankfully, the person delivering this last bit left out the issue of gender. (see Sept. 30 blog)
Even my one serendipitous moment, the one where I said Oh thank God I already started the applications, has diminished. That was two weeks ago, when I received devastating news of a literary sort: a “We received many outstanding manuscripts, but yours was not one of them” letter. I wasn’t initially bothered by this letter, not only had I already started moving forward on my road to better writing, but rejections are, for writers, a way of life. No sense crying and all that. It also didn’t hurt that I was, in the moment I opened the hateful thing, walking out the door to catch a flight to Tucson AZ – perhaps my favorite place on Earth. But I’ve been back home for a week now and with my friends weighing in daily*, and I am awash in vacillation. Not about the MFA program, but about writing. About the sense of spending yet another two years in school, throwing oh let’s not even discuss how much money in the direction of an art that is in the 21st century of life here on Earth vastly underrated, unappreciated, difficult, lonely, occasionally heartbreaking and almost always sans monetary remuneration. Last night, I tortured myself for hours, thinking I should just go back to work, get a job I like – in a bookstore perhaps, or a library. I could volunteer for Hospice, take up macramé, adopt a dog, foster a child, befriend a cobra. When I had exhausted all other possible, preferable scenarios, I fell to simpler thoughts, asking myself over and over – Are you freaking NUTS!
Well, yes. Yes I am. And I have to thank Jerry Landry in part for no longer wanting to act on that insanity in any sort of negative way. Because taking my manuscript out back and setting fire to it had really crossed my mind. As had finding a therapist who specializes in budding van Goghs with scissors in hand, sharpened and aiming for an ear. Instead, here I am, pounding out words with the sun in my face and… Well, I’d be lying if I said I had a song in my heart, because my heart still feels a bit black and lonely, but at least I am writing which never, ever fails to make me happy.