Sunday, August 16, 2009

Stuck In The Middle With O'Connor

I hate that in-between feeling. One MFA packet in, the next one dangling over my head like some ominous literary cloud, and I keep floundering away at my next story. I worked hard last week on my next piece and ended up with 7 pages of meandering nothings. Then Wednesday I tried just writing with no exact goal in mind and ended up with several pages of creative non-fiction. Somebody needs to tell my brain that I'm getting my MFA in fiction. Oh well. At least I was writing something, right?

For various reasons, I haven't been able to sit down and write anything for a few days, and I think the hiatus has done me some good. Only time will tell, of course, but I may have come up with a solution to my problem with the story. Who am I kidding? One of the problems with my story. I guess the other hitches will have to work themselves out as I go along. Either way, I feel less panicked about getting to work on Monday. I have so much to write in the next 3 months that sometimes (mostly at night when I'm trying to go to sleep) I break out into a sweaty stress fest. That's when I have to remind myself who gives me these stories and the ability to write them, and I have to remember to trust Him. It sure it hard at 2 o'clock in the morning, though.

Of course, it doesn't help that I'm currently reading Flannery O'Connor's Mystery and Manners, a collection of her essays on writing. The woman is merciless in her criticism of modern writers and literary fiction. Everything she says is so spot on, and her open disdain for inferior work leaves me in such a state, that when I sit down to write I'm paralyzed with fear. Maybe that fear is a good sign. If I could just blythely read her criticisms without feeling the burn, I would be the most clueless student writer in history. Maybe my panic shows an awareness of my inferiorities and serves as a reminder of what all writers aim for - perfection. I know that unattainable goal is thousands of miles off, and I'm still stuck at the starting gate. And after all, isn't knowing half the battle?

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