It’s Sunday again and I really need to get some steps to boost my stats and get my heart going. Plus, I’ve got a lot to say today so this could get long.
Imma start with school. Yesterday I had a two hour phone conversation with my assigned mentor for the semester and though it was a good conversation, it leads me to conclude I’m behind schedule. Those are my words and not his. He actually said I was in great shape.
However, it feels like the deadlines are coming in hot and I’m all duck-and-cover like the 16 year old me afraid of the volleyball in PE headed straight for me.
This is my 4th and final semester in the MFA program at the University of Nebraska. As such, I’ve worked with three mentors in previous terms and each has been a very different experience. Each opening my eyes to various aspects of the poetic discourse, craft, and the writers life. However different though, it’s tough not to start to compare one semester to another and one mentor to another. That’s human nature.
The mentor I have this term has been, by a good margin, tougher on me than the past three. I naturally push myself hard, trying to exceed expectation so to have someone pushing me even harder is not what I’m used to. The result, I recognize, is going farther and taking my writing to a whole new level. I feel I’ve made more progress this term already than I thought was possible and perhaps that I was also naive in thinking I didn’t have much farther to go.
Yeah, super foolish, SugarCookie! There are miles and miles to go and when you get over that little ridge ahead you will still see a mountain rising up before you.
The progress, however satisfying when you look back, is not without pain.
How many poems have I written and revised countless times. How many have I been so proud of? And how many were actually done-done? As it turns out, none.
With poetry the devil really is in the details. All the information I’ve absorbed in previous semesters about image and line and juxtaposition and the signified and the signifier, the interplay between the mind of the poet, the reader, and the poem itself, as well as learning how to give in to the destructiveness of a subject is all conceptual and very big-picture.
This semester I’m down in the weeds with grammar and syntax. I’m in a cage-match with punctuation and line breaks. And I’m having to cut and slash and, at times, re-imagine where I have been to try and rewrite the scene. I’ve learned so much about what those adjectives and adverbs are doing to my work and how passive voice seems to be my default and that just wont do.
Now, I think my mentor last semester was getting to some of this with me but I just wasn’t there yet and I just wasn’t getting it. Now I think I’m getting it. It’s starting to click. I just needed someone to point out specific examples. Which I now have a ton of. Which is good, but it stings a little, you know.
Paraphrasing a comment I’ve seen several times, “I think there could be a poem hiding in all this”. Ouch!
I mean when you hand over your baby and are so proud of how wonderful she is, it’s tough to have the response be “I’m not sure that’s even a baby. It could be a puppy. It’s cute but really, go back and try again.” Ha!
That’s overly dramatic of course, but that’s pretty close to how I feel reading some of the feedback. Speaking of overly dramatic, apparently that’s another one of my problems. Some of my poems were tagged as too melodramatic, too preachy, or too clever.
Too clever? Part of me is like so what? I like clever.
Oh, clever is not one of the goals and neither is preachy. People apparently don’t like that and I need to cut that shit out. There I go… cut, cut, cut. /shrug
There are a few references in a couple of my poems to the speaker weeping. Ummmm, that actually happened and in case there’s any question the speaker is yours truly. Please tell me how I’m supposed to write about the most difficult parts of my life without the reality that I sometimes cry about it?
It’s clicking now though. I get it. I don’t have to include every detail and however sincere, I can use the images to try and evoke a feeling. So I cut cut cut. Several poems have been cut completely out of my thesis manuscript. Among those are some of those tough moments that I still can’t completely capture successfully in a poem. I may never be able to do that.
My five year relationship that failed and left me devastated was represented in a poem that’s now been cut. I’ve re-written that poem like 10 times now in 10 different ways and it’s still too raw. Instead, I’ve got a short little baby that’s about 10 lines to represent that part of the story. And that one is a play on cliche.
So, yeah, having one of the most impactful things I’ve gone through being reduced to a pile-up of cliches makes my heart hurt.
Anyway, the conversation I had with my mentor yesterday was a lot more positive than all that and I think a few more things are clicking now for me to finish out my revisions of this book. I need to get that done so I can move on to the other requirements for the thesis and also developing a kick-ass lecture to get me to the finish line.
One hour in and I think I’ve finally exhausted my thoughts on that topic. But I’m not done yet, yo, it’s Sunday and I’ve still got to check myself on status.
Steps and exercise are not up to par. I’m just shy of 10k steps per day and my goal is 12k.
My sleep is a puzzle. On one hand my sleep quality has gone up and holding steady at an average score of 77. On the other, the average duration of my sleep is suffering and has fallen to about 6.5 hours a night. Whatever.
Work hours went up again this week and I’m now close to a full-time work week. That’s one reason the other things are suffering. Like school and writing.
I did not submit any of my writing this week so that’s a fail.
I did not write anything new so that’s a fail.
I did not read anything new so that’s a fail.
I did finish watching Batman Begins with Jim and we continue to also watch the documentary-drama on Netflix about Ted Kazinsky (I know that’s not spelled right but “meh”). We also watched 1917 this weekend with one of the kids. I didn’t like it and would not recommend. For a war drama, it did a poor job pulling me in emotionally. And I’m typically a sucker for that shit. I often get teary-eyed during emotional scenes. I mean I cried like 4 tunes during “Onward”. But I just didn’t feel that connection with the movie 1917. We should watch Saving Private Ryan again to see how that is. I’ve seen it but it was a long, long time ago.
What else? Yeah, my healthy eating goals are still being ignored for the most part. Ha!
I think that’s it. The household is probably waking up now and I’ve got to get to rolling with the day.
Take care and be well,