(Fr)Eke Out

I’ve been eking out work these days. Like squeezing the water out of a wet swimsuit kinda stuff, y’all. Like every time I think I can get it all out in one squeeze, I can’t. Where does the water come from?! Don’t tell me, I know it has something to do with the type of material the swimsuit is made out of, but Christ I’d like for the water to just come out all at one, you know?

No, you probably don’t know because you have no idea what I’m talking about. I’m talking about my thesis, y’all because of course I am! What is the deal with this thesis? Why can’t I write right now? Do I need to just drop everything and go to DisneyWorld? Well, the answer to that is yes, always yes, but won’t that just be procrastinating? But isn’t that what I’m doing by writing this blog about how I can’t write?

Here’s the thing, I sit down to write a full short story, maybe a 10-pager, hopefully a 20-pager, and I all I get is about five pages. That’s it. I squeeze and squeeze and squeeze and it dribbles out. This is highly unusual for me, that’s why I’m telling you this. Normally I think about a story for a few weeks, then sit down and it pours out of me. But I have been thinking about TWO stories for OVER a month now and nothing happens when I sit down. Just drip, drip, drip…

Maybe the stories have no merit? Maybe they suck and I know it subconsciously? Or maybe I’m just so freaked out by these deadlines that I am sabotaging myself? Or maybe I think my thesis advisor is tired of my shitty work? Or maybe, just maybe, I’m afraid of the work I know they will take and I don’t want to do it?

All these questions.

All this water.

Send help. But not a life raft. I’m still on dry land.

M.

Thesis, The-ses, The Cesspool

I’m working on my thesis this week, in case you can’t tell by the title. It’s a collection of short stories and it’s the first time I’ve really tried my hand at fiction and it is tough. Really tough. I have been reading all these great short stories for like a year now by famous writers, no-so-famous writers, friends, colleagues professors, all of it. I’m taking it all in and today I had a breakdown, err, breakthrough, breakthrough. Sorry, I’m so used to writing, “Today I had a breakdown.” I had a BREAKTHROUGH!

I wrote this story a couple of weeks ago that I thought was utter nonsense, actually just me working on some childhood bullshit and it was time to send my third set of thesis pages to my advisor so I sent that bullshit in with a note: “This is pretty much bullshit. But you wanted something.” My advisor wrote me back something like, “This is great. Let’s talk!” So we talked. And she liked it. She liked it so much that she said something about it being the “anchor” story and I almost screamed a little because I didn’t think I’d ever write a story that might carry a collection and then there is this and the more I thought about it the more I realized that it probably is the anchor story, and the title story of the collection, and holy shit it’s all the theme for the whole collection and what do I do now?!

Then as breakthroughs go, I had another one. They come in succession in case you didn’t know because it has yet to happen to you, and in this succession I saw very clearly the ending image for my thesis and it’s marvelous, just marvelous, only now the problem is that I have to write it. And my advisor has to think it’s doesn’t suck all that much. Then I have to defend it all of course, which makes me sick to my stomach, but this is not my first rodeo, so I know it’ll be fine.

So like usual I have no real point with this post other than to say, things are looking up. And last week, they were not looking up, and remind you that this is life, up and down, down and up. I hope this is an up week for you too, but if it isn’t then next week surely will be!

M.

Dog Shit (But Not Really)

How y’all been? Good, I hope. I had a great week last week on account of it being the Welty Symposium at my school and my professors being really busy with that. Seriously. And I didn’t need to attend because I did it last year and I’m doing short residency elsewhere in the spring so it was sort of like a week off and now that it’s Monday again and school is back in proper session I’m feeling ehh about the whole thing. Especially my thesis, which I managed to convince myself last week was a flaming bag of dog shit and I should just give up. Just give up, that’s what I was thinking when I woke up this morning from a dream wherein my thesis advisor Zoomed me to tell me that my thesis was “dog shit.” So there you are. A nice, relaxing week where I felt like I worked ahead, got some stuff done (including my very first book review that is due this week! Eekface) and then this week I immediately fell right down a negativity hole. What gives? I dunno. But this isn’t new.

That’s why I hope y’all are doing good. Because I know you can have a fine and dandy time one minute, then the next be all, “This is bullshit, why even do this?!” I know because it happens to me all the time and when it happens to me I get all these feelings tangled up together that I can’t seem to hash out. There’s the guilt for sort of “wasting” my time last week. No, I didn’t. I did a lot of stuff, but “it’s never enough,” so says my inner critic. Then there is shame for my brain thinking this way, like why don’t I have better control over my brain, ya know? Then there is the inevitable slide down the sadness wall where even petting my dog for twenty minutes while she tells me how pretty I am will not help. Bleh.

Has this happened to you? I hope it hasn’t, but if it has just know you’re not alone. Having a great week, a relaxing week, a week where you are free to do things on your own time, even sometimes a vacation, then coming back to the normal routine can make you feel ehh or bleh or ahhhhh! Then that makes you feel like an untitled brat who lacks gratitude. It’s normal-ish, I think, but I’m no doctor. I also know that these ahhhh, or bleh, or ehh feelings don’t last long. That doesn’t help when you’re in the thick of it, but it might help tomorrow or the next day.

So okay, what can you do if you feel this way? Make a blog post so you don’t feel so alone? Sure. Text a friend a funny meme to make you and them smile? Yep. Take a nap? Of course, sleep always helps. But really you just need to ride out those feelings. Trust me, I speak from experience. It’ll be better one day soon, until then keep doing what you need to be doing this week, keep checking those items off the old to-do list, and revisit these feelings when you have accomplished something, anything really, I’m currently doing one, just one, load of laundry to check “laundry” off my list for the day. Then I’m going to email my thesis advisor and tell her that I’m spiraling and hope she has some kind words for me, then I will maybe watch an episode of Teen Mom OG or Ted Lasso, depending, and you know what, things will be brighter when I wake up tomorrow. Or they won’t and we will try again.

I hope you are having a great day and if not I hope you find something fun and helpful to change it.

Stay safe and sane, y’all.

M.

Writing, But Not Writing

I’m not sure why I can sit down every day now and hammer out a blog post, but I am incapable, quite suddenly, of writing for my thesis. Like in the first month of school I wrote two, TWO short stories. I guess I took that for granted because now here I am, sitting alone in my quiet house (Jackson is back at school in person and Jerimiah is at the office for his yearly budget reviews) and I still cannot write anything new for thesis. Meanwhile, I am here on my blog complaining to y’all. I guess it’s just the nature of the beast, yes? I don’t have to think much here. Y’all offer me a “no-thinking zone.” That’s not a bad thing, it’s not, it’s a really good thing. I can just log on here and share something ridiculous, whatever I am thinking about that day, and usually someone will find goodness in it, even if it’s just me blabbing my mouth about conservative republicans. Thanks, y’all. I appreciate you.

Maybe that’s all I have in me to say today. Thank you for being you, for reading or at least skimming, and for nodding your head in agreement or maybe shaking at my absurdity. Either way, it’s important for me to know that someone, out there in the ether, is having the kind of day where they need to just sit and read the random thoughts of someone else. It’s always good to think about how humanity works in that way.

Maybe my next post will be more concrete with themes and pictures and funny one-liners, maybe it will be more bitching about Mitch McConnell, who’s to say, but I’m glad someone out there will be into it.

Take care of yourselves today, won’t you? Lighten up. I’ll try to take my own advice.

M.

Last First Day

Today is my first day of the last year of grad school. I know I’ve been here before saying it was the first day of the last year of grad school but this time I am serious. This is my last year in my MFA program and while the year didn’t exactly look like I wanted it to (whose did?) I am still having all the emotions today, but mainly I am stressed, per yoozh. *Bonus Side Tangent: There is no definitive answer on how to shorten the word “usual.” Even Merriam-Webster sorta just gave up, but it is important to note that while I rarely say the abbreviated word in spoken form, I do like to write with it especially because of the ending with the, what did they call it, a post-alveolar fricative (duh I know exactly what that is I’m an English major) because well, it’s just fucking fun.

Anywho, today is truly my last first day and I’m feeling all the feels. I’m super nervous because I have to start thesis this semester and while I’ve already written a thesis before, umm, no, I have not, not like this. This one is me pushing me way out of my comfort zone. Plus it’s a whole lot more than I wrote last time (like double!) and I don’t feel ready or excited at all. If it weren’t for my advisor, a person I’ve only known for a year, but feels like way longer you know those kinda people, I’d be a hot fucking mess, but as it sits I’m just a hot mess.

The other good thing, nay great thing, is that I have a group of friends to get through this year with. In fact, these people have been amazing and wonderful and all the things. It was by far the most important thing for me in finding an MFA program. I wanted to find a place that felt like home, even though y’all know I have no idea what home is anymore but I am happy to report I found it and it includes a group of women who are kick-ass and truly supportive and who “get it,” which is by far the most important.

Oh wow, I could go on but I won’t instead I will say this, last first days are scary and hard and emotional. But we will make it through just fine. Just fine.

Go forth and do something scary today, you’ll be okay. Just wear your mask.

M.