|Back in School-1st Residency for my MFA at Spalding Univ.|
This week it happened. I sent off my first packet for my independent study course for my MFA degree. Each semester we send out five packets to a mentor and get feedback on them. For three weeks I worried and argued with myself over the creative writing piece I was submitting.
I was fighting with the pacing of my novel. After submitting it out to agents and editors, working on it with my online critique group, even sending out excerpts to some of my book club friends, I was getting back the same response. The story had a great premise, the characters were believable, but the pace of the story was too slow and all of it needed dimension and more complexity to keep the readers wanting more.
I'd gotten as far as I could go on it. I needed help. So, I took the advice of another writer I met at a conference and looked into Spalding University's Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing program. After thinking about it for another year I took the plunge and applied. I've mentioned my excitement at getting in. Going off to residency made me nervous and excited. But the other people I met there were great and as committed to becoming better writers as me. My workshop group was the best! I loved getting to know all of them.
Then after 10 days of being immersed in an environment of other writers and creative people we were sent home to do our independent study. I was assigned my mentor at residency and met with her to create a plan on what I would submit of my writing and what books to read and analyze by writing short critical essays about them. Reading and writing everyday was pretty much what I'd been doing on my own. But now I would be letting someone new see my work. Always a bit frightening, even when you know they have your best interests at heart.
I wrote and rewrote several chapters of my novel. Most of it I did longhand and a huge portion of it was drivel. I considered taking out one of my secondary characters completely. In the end, I left her in the story. But looking at it with fresher eyes after months of leaving it dormant and getting advice from my workshop group helped. In all of that rewritten drivel I managed to glean a few gems. I also cut out some stuff that wasn't important to my plot. I revised the chapters that lead up to the midpoint of my story and will see what happens. After all, this is why I came to Spalding in the first place. I am capable of fixing this story but need guidance to do it. The mentor I have is purported to be tough, but also terrific at helping writers learn the tools of they need for hard revision work. She may have to teach me to kill some of my darlings or at least cut them out of the story. In a day or two I will know for sure what she suggests. Either way, I will have a wealth of knowledge that I might have taken years to discover on my own and let's face it, I'm not getting any younger.
I will say that even if my submission comes back bleeding purple ink--sending it off felt like a huge accomplishment. I did give a big sigh of relief. And I rewarded myself by watching old episodes of the Wonder Woman TV series that I got on DVD for my birthday last week. :) It will be important research for another novel in the future I'm sure... I do write for children and young adults after all.
|Finally! This is the same symbol I envisioned that, Josh the|
character in my novel, has on the door of his house. Found it
at Spalding. Coincidence? I think not.