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.
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.