Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008=Set Up, 2009=Rising Action

2008 is gasping, wheezing as he stumbles toward his rest. The earth has been turned, his grave awaits. That is to say, the year's up. Pencil's down, class. So, to continue with the test image, did we pass or fail? I think 2008 will go down as a year in which I really acheived something. That's right, in 2008 I blogged more than I have in any previous year. This makes post 62, whereas my previous high was 59. High fives all around.

Seriously, 2008 has been a fairly productive year for me. In 2008 I decided to pursue an MFA in creative writing. In 2008 Mary Ann and I conceived child #4. I had a decent academic year in 2008. On the other hand, I haven't done tons of writing this past year. That's a big problem, but I'll remedy that as early as possible in 2009, though. On the positive side of the writing ledger, I had positive responses to almost everyone I let read "Keep Thinking, Keep Moving".

Writing will play an increasingly large role in 2009. I've got to prepare for MFA applications, so I have to have a good writing sample, and I also want to get involved with some local writers in St. Louis to get some more good feedback. And heck, I'd like to get published a time or two as well. We'll see how that goes.

The MFA application process is the thing that looms largest on my horizon right now, though. I need to get the aforementioned writing sample shaped up, take the GRE, scare up some references, save up the cash for application fees, etc., etc . . .

Fortunately, I have a pretty good list of schools picked out. They are, in no particular order:

1. UT-Austin
2. Syracuse
3. Purdue
4. Indiana
5. Notre Dame
6. Alabama
7. UNC-Greensboro
8. Ohio State
9. Florida
10. Penn State
11. Wisconsin
12. Minnesota
13. Illinois
14. Iowa

I still have some research to do on some of those schools, and others of them I know I am unlikely to accept because they're the best. But I'm going to take a shot. As the list changes over the course of 2009, and as I get my applications sent off, I'll keep everyone posted.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Calling Brent Bourgeois . . .

Bourgeois Tagg. Obscure '80s band. Remember them? They had a couple of top 40 hits and then vanished, like a lot of pop groups. The thing is, they had this one song that has been stuck in my head for more than 20 years. It was called "I Don't Mind at All" and it had this melancholy, string quartet feel to it. Now, in this age of iTunes you'd think I'd be able to find a digital copy and download it quick as you please, but such is not the case.

Perhaps if Bourgeois Tagg had continued their rise, their entire catalogue would be available. Sadly, they did not. The 'Bourgeois' part of the duo developed a nasty drug habit, and things began to fall apart. The happy part of the story is that Brent Bourgeois kicked the habit when he became a Christian. Bourgeois Tagg finally broke up in the aftermath because Brent's lyrics were increasingly Christian (at least that's my understanding), so they faded into the '80s history.

So here's my plea to Mr. Brent Bourgeois: I want to download "I Don't Mind at All." Legally. Help me remember that I was just as melancholy before I was 10 as I am now. Put it on iTunes!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Contest is Dead, Long Live the Contest

So the big news of the week is that the Missouri Writers Guild Flash Fiction Contest has officially ended.  The winners have been announced, and I am not among them.  No cash prize, no honorable mention.  I'm definitely disappointed, but I'm not heartsick about it.  I was more disappointed, I think, before I remembered that I sent the unedited version of the story to the contest.  There were a lot of typographical errors, plus some slightly confusing language at the end of the story.  I guess that's why I was initially only hoping for an 'honorable mention' in the contest.

The aggravating thing about it, though, is that the story wasn't the best it could have been.  I'll never know how the story would have done if I had polished it more, tightened it up a bit.  That's the price I pay for waiting until the night of the deadline to do the bulk of the writing, though.  My fault.

On the other hand, I'm happy that the thing's over.  I can move on a bit more now.  I have other stories I can work on, and the contest had left me hamstrung.  Since it was my first real contest, I was too concerned with waiting on the results to move on.  That's a good lesson for me, I think.  I've got to keep plugging away and not worry about contests, or whether some magazine will accept my stuff for publication.  I think I felt this way because it was my first real contest.  Losing will be beneficial, though, because it will help me approach the rest of my writing with a greater eye toward detail.

The blow is also softened by the fact that I know I wrote a good story, so there's none of that "My writing is just crap and that's why I lost" attitude.  I've had good feedback on the story from all quarters, both from people who have a vested interest in me and those who don't know me from Adam.

I guess my next 'contest' needs to be developing a portfolio of good work that I can send to MFA programs.  I've got less than a year to develop 20-30 pages of butt-kickin' lit.  It's kind of scary.  20-30 pages doesn't seem like it should be that daunting, but it is because I haven't done it before.  I don't have 20-30 pages worth of completed material.  I can't let that bother me, though.

I must, as the French say, "Keep on truckin'."

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Under the Gun

Test tomorrow.  Big assignments due.

Yeah.  My time of the semester.

Woof woof.