A WRITER'S JOURNEY

A CONNECTION CORNER FOR WRITERS TO INSPIRE AND BE INSPIRED

CONTINUING ON

At sixty I decided to enter an MFA Creative Writing program. My decision inadvertently solicited a myriad of responses. "Are you crazy?" "I could never do that!" "Haven't you had enough of school?" "You are brave to do that." "I'm so proud of you." Honestly, I was not really moved by any of these responses. I had set my mind to do what I thought was best for my passion-writing. It also helps that I have always been of the belief that other people's opinions should never be a defining factor in one's life decisions.

Six weeks into a nonfiction workshop and a creativity workshop, and I could not be happier with my decision to hone my craft. This is where I am supposed to be. I have longed to be in the company of writers on a regular basis. 

I'm sure it helps immensely that I was never one to be bothered by age. However, I would be bothered by a stagnant life. I would regret not doing all that I could, to become an accomplished writer. 

My undergraduate degree is not in the arts. Therefore,  I have kicked studying my craft  into high gear.

Katherine Mansfield's' The Daughters of the Colonel is a treasure trove for studying word usage. Francine Prose's Reading Like A Writer is proving to be a Godsend. A close read of both is just the jumpstart I needed to learning to read with more sensitivity and depth (according to  Marion Winik's comments on  a blog I wrote on the incredible essay The Subjunctive Mood by Michele Morano, I'm on my way).

"It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end."

Ernest Hemingway

First Steps

Another first step. I attended the first class of my first semester in the University of Baltimore's (UB) MFA Creative Writing and Publishing Arts Program. I have the good fortune and the pleasure of having Marion Winik (author, radio commentator: NPR, columnist, and essayist: www.marionwinik.com) as my professor. The resource library is our classroom ( another good fortune). I am the first to arrive. Seated at the rustic boardroom table, in the midst of hundreds books, I'm feeling likeI want  to linger on this particular journey for as long as I can. Yes, earning an MFA is the goal. Yet I am reluctant to reach that destination looming on the horizon. This is where I'm supposed to be.

Memoirs are personal truths experientially as well as emotionally. I am not nor have I ever been a proponent of the cultural sway toward the belief that all truth is relative. However, memoir writers must be forgiven for the inevitable shade of subjectivity. Memoirs are poured out from deep within the psyche, the soul, the memory. There is nothing more subjective than what this experience called life has stored up within each one of us.

In order for the reader to connect with the memoirist's story the underlying passion of the soul of the story must be felt by those who turn the pages - expecting. I know firsthand the depth of the cathartic power of the memoir. I began seriously writing as result of my soul's demand to pour out my past onto the page.

"The most important reason for going from one place to another is to see what's in between, and they took great pleasure in doing so."

Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth

 

The Journey

Journey [Jur-nee] a passage from one place to another, or a passage through life, or a passage through any significant experience. Passage is the operative word here. The life, journey and experience of a writer encompasses all of the above definitions.

Writers are on a spectacular and lifelong journey towards becoming. Passing from place to place externally as we as internally we journey to places of learning, creating, advancing, and success as well as failure. Our journeys take us to places in our emotions, our minds, and our worlds that breath life and depth into who we are and what is drawn out of us as we write.

My journey has recently afforded me passage to the privilege of acceptance into the MFA Creative Writing and Publishing Arts program at the University of Baltimore (my Alma Mater). I am excited, exhilarated, inspired.  I have trepidation, uncertainty, and fear. Even so, I am ready to continue this privileges life of a writer. 

Like the first draft, we don't take the journey so much as the journey takes us.  Rather, I would like to hold on to this juncture in the journey for as long as possible. I long for the places, the experiences, the life of the journey where I am moved from one place of learning and creating to another under the tutelage of a small group of men and women who are accomplished writers and are passionate about leading us to a place where we easeknowing ourselves as writers as well as becoming better writers.

 

The writer's only real task: to recreate out of the disorder of life that order which is art”
James Baldwin