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Sorry Willie, But I Really CAN Wait To Get On The Road Again

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Gotta Love Paducah

In two days I leave Tennessee for my second residency in Kentucky at MSU. At this point I have no earthly idea how I’m supposed to fit two cat carriers, one large dog carrier, one bird cage, all their luggage (food, toys, etc.), and twelve pieces of luggage (of various) sizes into a Taurus. Sure it’s only an hour and forty minute drive there, but ten days is a long time for a female and yes, I already downsized. Tomorrow we’re going to do a test run and see if it all fits and if not, I’m calling U-Haul and I swear I’m going to hitch one of them to the back of my car. Lord please make it all fit.

As far as the residency itself goes, I’m feeling numb (not quite excited, but not bummed either) about it which doesn’t exactly please me. I should feel something right? I think I’m just really overwhelmed with school at the moment and the whole residency thing is just bad timing.

This was the first time I took at two week literature class and I never will again. Actually this entire summer school thing is something I would have rather done in the fall or spring. Since this is my first time as a graduate student I’m not accustomed to things just rolling ahead. I’m more used to having an option to attend summer classes. It’s not MSU or ISU that’s causing the stress, but graduate school in general, but I think it has been kicking me in the pants for long enough. I’m ready to once again be the leader and not be led by my classes. Or at least I’d love for God to just take the wheel – unlike me he knows exactly what he’s doing.

I’m also still job hunting and writing. My friends keep asking how I plan to work while attending school. Well I don’t know exactly it just is what it is. On one hand it would be nice to just sit home and write all day, but who is going to pay the bills? On the other hand I’d love to try my hand at a communications position and really use my undergraduate degree. I loved my internships and the thought of having benefits and a steady paycheck as well as create new things daily is exciting. I actually enjoy working. Last night I applied for my dream job, so keep your fingers crossed, send up a prayer, and cross your toes and eyes too if you think it will help. I really need a job.

Since my last post I’ve been preparing to submit a memoir-type writing for a contest. It will be my first time submitting to a contest. The prize is $1,000 which is nice, but even if there were no prize the opportunity to possibly win and have something published is exciting and challenging.

I don’t think I’ve done more on the novel since we last spoke. My two week class unexpectedly required me to read five books in two weeks and make discussion board posts. My professor is a gem, but can we say “NIGHTMARE” for the time line?

I don’t know what I was thinking. Add that to the Criminal Profiling course I’m taking as well and it all borders on being unreasonable. Yes, I know I don’t have to be Super Woman, but I just love productivity and the idea that once I’m finished with everything, in addition to the pieces of paper I get to hang on the wall in nice frames, I’ll have accomplished a goal and that makes it all worth it!

The memoir piece I’m working on needs a lot of editing, and I haven’t begun to think about what piece I’ll read at workshop (one more thing I have to think about). Actually I’m still thinking about those asiago cheese bagels and the warm atmosphere of the coffee shop I can’t wait to visit. The MSU campus is beautiful as well and I will get to see the friendly faces of all the folks along for this journey with me.

I have absolutely no idea where we’re headed, but it sure is one heck of a ride so far. Feel free to climb aboard if you like.

Until next time : )

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It’s That Time Again!

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Sorry I have been away for so long. I’ve been busy unpacking and my summer classes started so I haven’t had time for much else – especially sleep, but I’ve missed blogging.

Good news! I’ve finally gotten settled in the new place and there are no more boxes left to unpack. I love it here. Sure I miss the water back home, but the weather here is amazing and I truly adore the new digs. I’ve even managed to find my way around a bit more without relying on the GPS, but I would love some new friends.

Writing is going well. I’ve finally connected my characters and formed a bond so it should be easy going from here I hope. My biggest concern when writing is to make the story and characters believable. I’m such a harsh movie critic I look at books the same way. I place my self in the position of the reader and if I don’t think it would make sense to them or if there are any questions left over I fix it. Sure it has taken me longer than most probably for a first novel, but this means a lot to me and I want it to be good. Once I’m finished I really hope you like it.

I’m at the “Ooh it’s getting good” point of writing and there is an excitement that goes along with that. I just wish I could have more uninterrupted writing time. I wish I could say work is the problem, but it is not. It will be soon I hope, but there’s not much employment for writers (that I am aware of) in Jackson. I even applied at the local newspaper but so far, no luck.

If I were working at the moment it would mean I would have even less time for graduate courses, writing, housework and all the other things that go along with life.

I joined one of the dating sites to make some friends because I can’t remember the last time I went on a date. That is another wasteland area. I don’t know what it is these days with men and women. Not everything is about the physical and not everything is about sex. Okay, enough of that soapbox.

There are several writing contests I’d like to enter but I haven’t had time to focus on them. One is a memoir type entry which sounds really interesting. I think I’m just going to have to bite the bullet and submit something for that one. I think it needs to be between 2,000 and 3,000 words.

I will look seriously into that and get back to you. I hope everyone is having a great week. We’re halfway there and I’m halfway to my next residency. Just eight more days and I’m off again to Kentucky and MSU. The hotel is booked and this time I’ll be driving my own car – though I’d rather a rental. It’s funny when I tell people I’m going to my residency they think I’m in medical school. I will have to start saying writing workshop or writing residency.

Anyway, the two cats and the Jack Russell Terrier will be traveling with me once again, but this time instead of taking me three days to get there it will only take a little under two hours. The move was worth it. I tried to get my mom to stay with them while I went, but she wasn’t able to fly in from Texas since she will be working during that time so they’ll be with me.

I’ll make sure to take lots of pictures and share them with you when I return in a few weeks. Also, I’ll update you on my new favorite coffee shop. I haven’t found one here in Jackson to replace the one I had back home so when I get to Kentucky I’ll be filling up on fattening asiago cheese bagels with cream cheese and skinny chai lattes. I know why bother to do low fat when you’re pigging out on the other stuff. I consider it to be a reasonable balance between the two. Besides when I return home, I’ll just kill myself with a few more pilates sessions LOL.

Blessings to you all.

: )

Home Sweet Home

This morning as I write this I’m sitting on my patio feeling a wonderful breeze and listening to the birds chirp as they build their nests in the tall pine tree behind my apartment. This truly is a peaceful experience. It’s as close to nature as I will probably ever get, unless you count the numerous baby deer back home. I still hate I didn’t get their picture before I left, but they’re so quick and they’re smart not to trust humans.Getting here was eventful and not without many casualties, but now that I’m here I’m truly happy. My goal is to get through some of these boxes then free my mind to write.

I received wonderful supportive comments from my mentor on the novel I’m working on so now I simply must go forward. I wasn’t satisfied with the way the story was going in the first six chapters I wrote, so I rewrote them and apparently it was a good choice. She laughed in the right places and felt my characters were believable. I would love to share some of the novel with you, but I must admit I’m paranoid when it comes to my stuff being “out there” and will probably keep it under wraps until I’m finished.

My pressing concerns now (other than getting rid of these boxes) are preparing for the next semester and all that it entails. Even though I’ve moved I’m still considered out of state until I find a full time position because you can’t just move to be closer to school (even though that is what I did). I’ve been trying to not stress too much and enjoy the moment, but when I figure out how to do that I’ll be able to choose a restaurant or make my mind up about something. I’m looking forward to the new semester of classes – I just have to find a way to pay for it all, but one step at a time.

My Jack Russell Terrier loves the new place – especially the patio. I swear she and I are kindred spirits. We feel the same things and even act the same. When we’re out on the patio she watches the kids as they make noise downstairs and the black neighborhood cat who keeps meowing at my front door. Even though this is my second Saturday here, it truly feels like my first because we arrived last Friday and since then everything has been a blur.

I have some advice in case anyone decides to relocate the way I did:

  1. Downsize – go through everything you think you don’t want and get rid of it. Sell, donate or gift. (You will need the money)
  2. Downsize again – I know you think one day you’ll actually use that appliance that has been sitting on top of the refrigerator since you bought it, but trust me – you won’t and you need to  travel light.
  3. Hire a Moving Company – I rented a truck, hired people to load it, had someone (my mom) drive it from Texas to Tennessee, then hired people to unload it. This was an expensive mistake, but a good learning experience. Cheaper is not necessarily better. Spend the money and allow professionals to package and secure your precious items for the long drive, and let them handle the driving too.
  4. Avoid Diesel – the truck I rented used diesel gas. It was 24 ft which at first I assumed would be too much, but they didn’t have a 20 ft and the 16ft was too small. If I’d properly downsized it would have been just fine. I didn’t realized the truck was diesel until after it was loaded and this little unknown fact threw my gasoline travel budget out of the water. I spent $165 one time alone filling up the truck. Never rent a truck that uses diesel.
  5. If you must do it yourself, use experienced people to load and unload – don’t use fly by night companies who leave advertisements on your door and mistake it for a good thing, and make sure to be present as they load and unload every item so you can correct them when needed. If not you will end up with poorly stacked boxes and many broken items, scratched furniture and destroyed appliances.
  6. Document everything. Make a video journal if possible, because there will not be another time to have this much chaos going on at once. When the boxes are all unpacked you can watch it and have a good laugh.

Since I’m a work in progress and learning as I go that is all the relocation advice I have for now. In the meantime until we meet again take care and remember to laugh.

: )

Boxed In

I’ve stopped remembering what day it is, but now focus on how many days I have left to get all the stuff out of the apartment. I think I’m down to nine now and as you can see still have much to do. My daughter has been doing the packing because (1) I’m incapable of NOT over packing a box, (2) she uses much less tape and (3) she actually takes time to wrap stuff whereas I just toss it all in together and hope for the best.

I’ve not been without tasks. In fact I’ve been extremely busy. While she’s been packing I’ve been wrapping up the last few assignments for grad school. I’m down to two (one in each course). I’m have to finish my final annotation packet which includes revisions to the novel chapters I’ve been working on and a new beginning for something I read in workshop. After that I have one final test over four criminology chapters (btw I’m also working on a masters at Indiana State) then I’m free to help pack. The criminology just sort of fell in the mix and probably originated from my love of psychological thrillers and desire to one day write one.

 

 

 

 

 

I’m so excited about the move and can’t wait to check out all my favorite places here in Tennessee. Of course there are places it doesn’t have like Fry’s, Einstein Bagels or Whataburger, but I’m sure they have some pretty awesome places that are similar. I look forward to finding some cool writing spots, coffee shops and of course making new friends.

My novel is coming along and I have to thank my mentor for understanding me. I’m one of those writers who likes quirky characters. For my characters life is not without obstacles and things aren’t always pretty. They’re not ridiculously over the top, but if I want something where the days are always sunny and there is always a happy ending I can read a fairy tale. Reality is just not like that and I feel I owe it to my readers to write something relatable. In the novel I’m working on Macey is the character I love most. Surprisingly she is the most unordinary and the first one that came to mind when I thought of the plot. When I wasn’t so busy with school I’d fall asleep writing and my characters would come alive to help out with the story in my dreams. Lately I’ve missed their input. My dark piece centers on a character with depression, but I’m still trying to figure out where I want to take it. I haven’t put a name or face to the character, but I can feel her pain as if it were my own. She may become one of my favorites.

 When I get a moment to breathe I may share some short stories, but first I have to find time to write something other than what I’m presently working on.

Until next time 🙂

Tennessee Texan

As a native Texan for thirty-something years the idea of relinquishing my driver’s licence and Texas plates is horrifying, but the idea of living someplace new is exhilarating. This move came about as a result of grad school. I’m pursuing an MFA degree in creative writing at Murray State in Kentucky. Before attending my first residency in Jan 2012 the only other time I’d been out of Texas was when I drove to Maryland for a job interview last year. I’ve been to Louisiana dozens of times, but it is so close to Texas I don’t really consider it traveling. 

The road trip to Kentucky took three days (three days up and three days back) and 5-6 hotels, because I was traveling with two drugged cats and an overly excited Jack Russell Terrier. Looking back on the trip I now realize I’m the one who needed a sedative.

The writing program is online, but the residencies are twice a year. The first trip cost somewhere close to $3,000. Add that to out-of-state tuition and you’ll understand why I’ve decided to relocate.

Why Tennessee and not Kentucky? Murray has an amazing program that gives its bordering states discounted tuition. Kentucky is beautiful and the people there are super friendly, but I didn’t find a lot of housing or job options. Tennessee is just as nice and right next door, so I started job hunting and looking for an apartment. In March the apartment I’d been on a lengthy waitlist for finally came through, so Tennessee here I come and just in time.

My first MFA semester wraps up in May and a week later I move. The goal is to get settled before the next residency starts in July and make some serious progress on the novel I’m working on that will eventually become my thesis.

 I’m looking forward to my new life in Tennessee and especially writing on my new patio, but no matter what I’ll ALWAYS be a Texan.