What Doesn’t Kill You
Posted on August 10, 2012
My daughter’s biggest fear upon learning that I’d been accepted into an MFA creative writing program was that I would lose my creativity in the midst of format and rules. I promised her that I would never let that happen, and vowed to be true to myself. My first mentor and I really seemed to click. I recall her saying that she actually “got what I was trying to do” with my story. Those words meant a lot to me, because without having to crawl inside my head she understood what I was trying to convey.
I think that is one of the hardest things about writing, telling the story without actually “telling” the story. I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the workshop portion of my first residency, but once I returned home and had a chance to regroup I took what I wanted from the feedback and chucked the rest in an effort to remain true to myself. I realized that not every person will “get” what I write, because people have different likes and tastes. What is hilarious to me may not sit so well with you, and I’m okay with that. I felt I worked hard during my first residency and was pleased when grades came in to find out I earned an “A” for my efforts.
This second time around my grade was not so pleasing. Grades came in and this time I got a “B” for my effort with a different mentor. My first thought was what on earth did I do wrong? Then I began to re-evaluate my presence at the second residency. I was probably more stressed, because of course I had just moved, but otherwise I was the same as last time. The difference was this time I was required to do a lot more reading than last time, and there were also more in-class projects. My grade suffered, because I wasn’t prepared for the change. Next time – I’ll know to prepare for the worst case scenario to be safe.
Also, I don’t feel the bond this time around that I felt with my first mentor. You know how you meet someone and get this feeling that you just don’t click? I feel like my new mentor and I can see each other, but only from a distance. It seems as if we are miles apart in understanding where the other is coming from. After reviewing her comments from my first annotation packet I know this is true. She doesn’t seem to “get me” which means it’s going to be a rough semester. I’m the kind of person who doesnt’ want to fit into a pretty little box. I’d rather have points and edges sticking out in wild colors. So if I’m a triangle, and my mentor’s a circle now what?
It means I keep writing, and find a way to form an entirely new design from both our shapes (at least for this semester or until I get a new mentor and it changes all over again). By the time I graduate and finish this novel I’ll be an excellent motivational speaker, because I’ve lived “what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger” a hundred times. It has been said when you face a challenge to remain persistent and keep knocking at the door. That would truly be the polite thing to do in such a case, but sometimes I’d rather just kick the hell out of it until the frame breaks, and go on about my business.
I’m supposed to be working on a short story assignment from a creative nonfiction piece I started. I warn you now it will be an extremely dark piece (which actually sounds like fun). I will probably post a tidbit of it when I get it back. It’s due at the end of the month. I’d love to hear your feedback on it or anything else I’ve discussed.
Until next time, keep kicking those doors in!