My latest story, a flash piece entitled "Tyger, Tyger," is now live at NewMyths.com. Enjoy!
Dissatisfaction with oneself is one of the fundamental qualities of every true talent.
Really? This is news to someone?
I personally prefer the theory that true genius doesn’t watch the clock. Yeah, that’s the ticket.
I have a history of difficulty with academic decisions. The problem is two-fold: first, my interests range far and wide. I want to learn everything. About everything. This is, of course, impossible, but, as they say, the heart wants what it wants. It causes particular problems when I’m doing research for a fiction project; I’ll start out, say, looking up Mesopotamian mythology and end up somewhere in ancient China. Or Semitic languages. Or the Gnostic gospels. The second part of my problem is that I frequently mistake what I think I want to study with what I ought to study. In high school, for example, we were asked to focus our course load in either math/science, the arts, or humanities. Based on my past successes/failures, it should have been clear to me that I needed to have a humanities focus. However, the summer before I started at this particular school, I fell in love with science fiction, and I spent most of my days reading Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, and Orson Scott Card. This convinced me that I needed to be an astronomer, though it should have been obvious to anyone that what I really wanted was to write science fiction stories. Instead I ended up spending my last two years of high school on the edge of failing Differential Calculus and Physics I.
Things haven’t gotten any better in the self-awareness department, apparently. Though I was actively writing short fiction when I started grad school in 2011, I declared my concentration to be literary studies. I did it because it seemed to be the place where I stood the best chance of learning, and by that I mean that writing fiction is a skill improved through practice, and, when I was making the decision, it seemed to be something I could learn just as easily on my own. Now, coming up on my third year of master’s work, it seems obvious that the classes I love, the classes I really come alive in, are the fiction workshops, the classes where I can get and give feedback on art that is being created every day. Regardless of whether or not it’s a practical decision, I’ve simply lost a good bit of my interest in writing about the work of others. Literary papers are agony for me now. The fact is, I’d rather tell stories than think about what other authors meant when they wrote theirs.
In other words, hindsight being what it is, I should have concentrated on creative writing. The literary studies are useful, and have certainly been enlightening in terms of exposing me to stories I might otherwise never have encountered, but, like I said before, the heart wants what it wants. At the end of it all I’ll have a master’s degree in literature, but if I do decide to go on and get a PhD, it will almost certainly be in creative writing.
Or maybe not.
I feel like I should do some kind of year-end post here, if for no other reason than to simply dust things off a bit. I’ve made promises to myself to write posts regularly, but that never works out. So, what did I accomplish this year? Well, I…
1) Continued working on my master’s degree, and kept a 4.0 average, despite all my other obligations (I should finish in 2014).
2) Published 1 science fiction story and 5 poems in online magazines I respect, and I GOT PAID FOR THEM, Y’ALL. I GOT PAID TO WRITE. This is a huge one, for me.
3) Attended my first Con (World Horror Convention, June 2013, New Orleans, LA).
4) Managed to homeschool my 3 children without killing any of them (harder some days than others).
5) Read 89 books, which I’m fairly certain is the most I’ve ever read in a year, or close to it.
It’s also become somewhat unfashionable to make New Year’s resolutions, but I still do it. I know all the arguments against - that it’s unhealthy to set yourself up with unrealistic expectations, blah, blah, blah. But you know what? I like goals. There have been years (many, in fact) when I didn’t achieve a damned thing on that list, but so what? Goals are good to have, even goals that may not be reached in one year. It’s about direction, and narrowing down what you want to do from the huge list of things you could possibly do. The one nugget of wisdom I’ve gleaned from making it to 41 is this: time slips by so very fast. If it’s within your power, “live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.”* If I had anything resembling a personal credo, it would be that.
*Henry David Thoreau, Walden