Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Everything you never wanted to know about me but were compelled to ask anyway! (a.k.a. an update)

I attended my second residency with the Solstice MFA Program earlier this month and it was a fantastic experience.  Even better than my first time around.  This time I knew the ropes and knew a bit of what to expect and I enjoyed knowing a large portion of the student body.  I reconnected with many friends, made some new ones (and oh how cliche this all sounds but if I were to fill you all in one the nitty-gritty and often x-rated details it would take more than a single blog post and I have a lot to cover!), and came home feeling enriched and inspired.  My book list is an interesting one and unfortunately I have put several of my 'carry over' books on indefinite hold.  I will read Salman Rushdie one of these days, dammit, but not any day soon.  In the meantime I am continuing to work on my Death Man novel and have read Monster by Walter Dean Myers and The Executioner Always Chops Twice by Geoffrey Abbott.  Currently I am reading Grendel by John Gardner and will pick up Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, and then Janet Burroway's Writing Fiction.

My mentor this semester is Sterling Watson and I am so thrilled to get to work with him.  Unlike last semester, I will be receiving my mentor's responses via snail mail.  I need to send him a packet of five SASE (priority stamped) so that he can send me back the copy edits.  Also I'm going to send him my copy of two of his books - Sweet Dream Baby and Fighting in the Shade - so that he can sign them for me since it will be almost a year before I see the man in person again.  He only teaches and does workshops at the summer residencies.  This semester is going to be a very busy one as the requirements for my critical writing are a bit more challenging than that last.  As far as the requirements for the creative parts, I am still only sending 25 pages each packet but I would like the quality of these pages to improve by just as many leaps and bounds as my work did in the previous semester.

School work aside, I have a new phone that is a smart phone with a dumb plan.  I don't have the data plan and don't intend to, therefore my Blackberry that wants to be a superhero is restricted to just being efficient.  That's all I need it for - efficiency.  So far so good.  Also I finally set up a saving's account.  Slowly but surely I construct the mask of my adulthood so that I can hide behind it while still cleaving to anime, action figures, Monster High Dolls, and My Little Pony.

On the health front, Hannah and I are going to gradually eliminate all gluten from our diet.  We are doing this for two reasons: firstly, because going gluten free helps the body reach a healthy weight and secondly, because gluten adds to inflammation in the joints and the body and the avoidance of such things can lessen chronic pain.  Anything that we can do to help with Hannah's chronic pain will be a help.  My very close friend had to go gluten free recently but not by choice, however, through her journey we've learned that it's difficult but also rewarding.  So, as soon as we use up all the stuff in the house that includes gluten, we are replacing it all with only gluten free flours, mixes, pastas, etc.  The other thing that I'm doing for my health is getting back on rotation with the plasma donation place.  Tomorrow and again on Saturday I am set up for a 9:30 am donation.  I am getting back on the ball with this so that I can build up my biolife debit card and use that as my spending and emergency money while at the winter residency in January, and also I'm doing it because I eat better (more protein and less junk) and drink better (lots and lots and lots of water!) when I know I have a donation coming up.

Tonight I'm going to try and tighten up two Death Man chapters and finish my Artist's Statement and write a full outline for one of two critical papers.  What I really need to do however is spend some time just pumping out the next chapters.  I want to talk to Sterling about the insertion of flashbacks as their own segments or if he thinks they would be better received within the regular narrative.  So many options for structure!  That's partly why I want to talk about structure for my critical thesis, and that's another thing I want to get Sterling's opinion on before the end of this semester.  My first packet due date is August 7th - two weeks from tomorrow - and I have about two or three more books to read, ten or so pages of critical writing, and 25 pages of creative writing to get all finished and polished up in that time.  Thankfully the donations give me a solid hour of reading with little to no distraction.  Now my only adversary will be the heat!  I figure I'll be spending many afternoons (after work) over at my aunt's pool relaxing and cooling off.  After that it'll be over to Hastings or home for two to three hours of concentrated writing.  Now if I can only stick to this schedule!

Due dates for packets:
1st Packet Due: Wednesday, August 7th
2nd Packet Due: Wednesday, September 4th
3rd Packet Due: Wednesday, October 2nd
4th Packet Due: Wednesday, October 30th
5th Packet Due: Wednesday, November 27th