Pacific Lutheran University campus. I'm shirtless at my little desk in the dorm room where, if I crane just a little, I can see Mt. Rainier rising above the baking expanse of evergeens around Tacoma. Shirtless is not good, as the setting loose the flab is never good for the blab, but it beats sweating all over the keyboard. So, curious onlookers of the Rainier Writing Workshop's MFA degree program, here's what I have learned so far:
Men, in general, don't seem to do these types of things: I would guess the ratio is about 1:10 men to women. There may be other MFA programs where male writers congregate, but this is not one of them. As you probably know, this totally works for me.
My guess is that about 70% of my group of about 25 1st year participants (we're not referred to as students here, though I am now the proud owner of a student ID, which I plan to make handy over the next 3 years) are English teachers from across the spectrum.
According to my calculations, in the next 12 months I will read 24 books or articles and write 24 2-3 page critical response papers. That's a book or an article (let's hope my mentor heavies up the articles), and a paper, every two weeks. I'm planning to schedule 2 hours a day minimum. That is, after the IBM work gets done, but probably before the unsavory huckstering of Hack and the more fun event participation. If I can get in a daily walk on the beach (since we'll be living there soon), a couple of square meals, 8 hours of cumulative sleep, and Saturday mornings at The Coffee Roasters playing with the Treble Makers, plus some time with my everlovin' baby and our grown up babies, and Boo the poochster... If I get through that I'll tell you what's supposed to happen in the ensuing years.
I must of had a unreal surge of "I can do anything" energy when I signed up for this!?
About 40% of our group are Washington residents, many of them from the Tacoma area. A wave of concern swept over my furrowed brow when I learned this in our morning meeting today; I thought perhaps the program did not attract applicants from across the country, or at least not as many applicants from across the country. The fact that they accepted ME is also of some concern, for obvious reasons.
Other than that, today is a warmer upper, (accent on warm), get your bearings, get the lay of the land type of day. We had a breakfast for first years where true to form I made a complete ass of myself when I informed the group that I had a novel being birthed. When someone asked about the title I reached into my backpack and produced a paperback of Hack, after which the director of the program made an aside that I was a salesman in addition to being a writer. "Damn straight" I said. "Ain't nobody else out there hockin' these pups!". But I don't think it was too awful heinous but as always I failed to maintain that low, blend-in, unassuming profile that I wanted.
It's hard out here for a chimp! (Even harder for a big fat gasser!)
PS Stick around I promise there will be some value to these posts even if it's only a sharp pain to lower abdomen.
PSS Hey here's a brilliant idea: go order Hack on Amazon or B&N - it should be in all formats soon (www.hackthenovel.com), read it and let me know what I need to work on. Then I'll tell my mentor and it will make everybody's job alot easier, plus make for a better novel next time!