Warning: This is the first personal blog post I’ve written since Myspace

Been sniffing around the web to find any inklings of an Orange County literary scene. There is so little happening here for writers and I’ve been thinking about what to do about it or whether to do anything. Mostly I find “meet-ups” and self-promoting authors disguised as community, you know selfie-publishers trying to find readers or established writers trying to sell aspiring folks on programs and retreats.

I just graduated from UCR with my MFA a few months ago and I find myself stalled in the intersection of this giant crossroads where I keep thinking about what I really want and where to focus and then I change my mind. I think people in my peer group are not supposed linger here this long. Then again “supposed to” is elusive. I guess what I mean is that most of my friends from undergrad just seem to have a better hold on things. They seem productive. Committed to things. You know, 401Ks and engagement rings. Babies and life insurance. Tattoos and sobriety.

Several ideas have come and gone.

One was to put together an anthology of student work from the last few years of graduates from my school, I thought it would be good editing experience and a nice crash course in self-publishing and indy marketing.

Another idea was to do a reading event that was sort of a showdown between different MFA programs in the area, like a big contest where the prize was getting the opportunity to read at a big related event. A utopian vision, I know.

That idea seemed good mostly because overall I think more community and less competition would be better for all the programs in the end. But then I was like who am to pursue these projects? It seems like it should be someone on the schools faculty or something right?

At least those ideas were specific, they at least had tangible beginnings, middles and ends. The craziest idea–or not that crazy but just the most unrealistic–was to start a website which only reviewed female authors in an effort to make-up for the absurd gender gap in mainstream book reviews that’s forever sweeping the nation. We even talked to Gina Frangello (TNB & The Rumpus contributing editor) about the idea and got a much appreciated reality check about the level of work and commitment and time it would have taken. I think her words were “I mean is it REALLY worth it? REALLY! Girl I don’t know” I’m probably misquoting her but that’s what it felt like. I mean we weren’t completely ignorant or incapable of making it work, I afterall had Hipster Book Club creator Yennie Chung on my side (chick knows how to get shit done). We could have tried.

Now, notice how all of these big ideas have nothing to do with writing at all?

Yes, before pulling the trigger on any of these ideas, I have always managed to talk myself back into finishing my book. Back into facing the anti-social cave that is my writing hole, that dungeon where words actually coalesce into pages.  Just focus on the book. Just focus on one story. One rewrite. X amount of words per day. But then the intrusive robot voice returns: You need to submit to journals. You need publications for bio. You need blog. Look at her, her blog it is awesome. Your website does not exist. Nobody likes you on the Facebook.

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Get it? I’m “wrestling” with this stuff. He’s pink! I’m a girl it’s perfectly funny.

I’m scared to death that I’m going to wake up in five years and have done absolutely nothing. That is, nothing but effing navel gazing like this freaking post. Then have kids (at the very last second before that window closes) and completely regret squandering such an  abundant, unapprieciated, amount of time. I mean if I can’t get it together now, how the hell is it supposed to work when I am responsible for other real life HUMAN BEINGS. I know women who can strike that balance and have it all, but I also know that I am probably not one of them. God Bless them though. Seriously. Sincerely.

I guess this is the part where I’m supposed to queue the epiphany.

Where I’m supposed to tell myself to be grateful or keep on trucking or “don’t worry everyone feels like that after their MFA.” But I don’t want to go there, it too trite, all those pep talks….

Instead I think I want to stay scared of failing, stay mad at myself for not doing enough, because in the long run I think those instincts are what can make you survive, force you to face the lazy bastard within that wants to play Plants Vs. Zombies II all day and avoid life itself.

So yeah, I’m going to start blogging again. I think.

5 thoughts on “Warning: This is the first personal blog post I’ve written since Myspace

  1. (I love the idea of competition as the in-roads to fostering community among writers. I think low stakes duking-it-out is the best way to remind people that they are actually on the SAME team, and have a duty/privilege to keep each other sharp & growing. Maybe that’s because I’ve been seeing it work in martial arts since I was 12 … or because I just watched BRING IT ON with my roommate tonight. Whatever – you’ve got drive and the world around you has anemic desperation … sometimes that’s all the magic of coincidence it takes to start an avalanche.)

  2. I have had experience with working for a web-based literary journal and hosting live events. The web-based journal was a soul-deadening experience: having to slog through the slush pile of works that even psychotics with just a glimmer of self-respect would know not to submit. And even though it was a collaborative effort, I got no face time with the submitters and very little face time with my fellow web editors (webitors?)

    However, my experience hosting live events was much more positive. I believe the amount of work involved is more than payed off by the excitement of the events and the opportunities to meet and network with fellow artists and literary aficionados. The popularity of The Moth has led to a number of spin offs. In LA there is a monthly event called “Write Club!” which features literary “boxing matches” of a sort which can be hilarious, enlightening, and touching.

    If you could get a reading event going behind the “Orange Curtain” that would be a great service to the community, would help you maintain ongoing links to the literary community, and keep you stoked about writing in general.

    • Yeah, I’m beginning to realize that my hidden motivation to take on these types of projects is really just a benevolent form of avoidance behavior. After writing this I met with Conrad Romo of the Tongue & Groove reading series and tried to help him with it a bit. I quickly realized how much work was involved (though his is every month which seems like a lot, more than your average series). There are actually a lot of new developments in the OC literary scene, the Lit Central OC blog is only a few weeks old but there are some people who are really trying to mobilize the writers/writing community there, they have write-ins and one day workshops on craft and critique groups any everything. It’s becoming pretty legit. It’s about damn time.

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