Closer

I am feeling far away from myself right now. Far away, at least, from what I wanted out of myself, if that makes any sense. Clocks ticking, time wasted, what-was-I-doing?, why-ever-did-I-do-that?—this sort of thing.

This article got me thinking of all my aspirations—nameless, in the beginning, when I didn’t know what exactly to aspire to. (Thanks to Koreanish for posting about the article.) It got me thinking about all the trouble I’ve gotten myself into:

And here is what seems most insane—young and not-so-young writers take out student loans to get M.F.A.’s in creative writing. This does not add up. I once taught in the M.F.A. program at Columbia, and so I know the extraordinary gifts that student debt can confer. But the Marshian in me says it’s impossible to start a life committed to literary fiction when you are $60,000 in debt. The very size of the loan assumes there is a market, a business to go into, a living to make. But the hard truth is that only a sucker writes literature with the intention of making money. This was so obvious in Australia in 1961, you never needed to say it. Today, when people seem to be breaking through all around you, it might be good to bear in mind that the only reward you can rely on is in the work itself.

Guess where I went to school?

My choices, when I was applying at age 21, weren’t exactly smart. I didn’t realize there are schools that pay you to come.

But stop. What’s done is done. Is done. Is done.

And for me, it’s not about writing to make money, it was never about writing to make money, it was about writing only, because I love it, though now I guess it’s about making money however I can to pay back the loans, and to live, to simply live in New York City, and sometimes I forget why I wanted all of this in the first place. The working has me sidetracked. The freelance on top of the working, worse. (Hence the manuscript I am turning in Monday, the horror of it, though it paid the rent for two months.) This is why I am far away. What was meant to get me closer has only worked to get me farther away.

I don’t think I’d recommend my MFA, though you should know I did love it. When my baby sister was thinking of applying, I discouraged her from my own school. I told her she was not allowed to apply there. Now what does that say?

What, now, is the solution except to work at it, to find the moments in the day where my real work (i.e., writing) can be inserted, and do what I love, because that was the whole point in the first place. It may be that I made a mistake, maybe, but I can’t let that ruin everything. I realize I’ve been saying this for a long time, and I haven’t been so good with the follow-through. It’s time to get a step closer. It’s time to return to the (to a) (to any) novel. To give it another go. Time—yes, really—to dive back in.


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