Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Draft for tomorrow

Well, my draft is due tomorrow. It's crazy how much I've worked on this in such a short period of time. Four weeks back, I started trying to write a draft to hand in, and for two weeks I wrote in fits and starts, amassed 15 pages of four different story starts that I while I didn't hate, I didn't really get into either. Then I freaked the fuck out two weeks ago because I had nothing.

Then I started writing about my father's heart attack, a steady one or two hours a day, most every day. And I stopped this Friday, and I had 30 pages. Then I gave myself the task of editing it all this weekend, and after editing 20 pages, it turned into 33. My cohorts won't be thrilled about the page length, but whatever. I want to get as much of it in front of them as possible. I still have another ten pages that I've left out for my next workshop submission.

So I graded all day Friday, then edited the draft most of the day Saturday and Sunday--I did see a movie Saturday night, Capote, I really liked it and immediately went out and bought In Cold Blood.

Yesterday I had classes all day-- teaching, then I had to write a two page draft of my final paper for the pedagogy course, then we had peer reviews of said draft.

Today's I've done nothing but work on my draft, all day. I got at eight-thirty, had toast and tea and from 9-12, edited. Then I went to the gym, came home, took a shower, then I did my laundry, and read some of my cohort's story that is up for workshop this week. By five I got back to working on my draft and aside from a few short snack breaks, I've been at the computer until now, which is midnight.

I just printed out the last version and am going to check it for typos only! No more writing or sentence edits or adding anything, I can't!

Saturday, November 26, 2005



I can't believe it's been six weeks since I posted. Well, thanks to someone named Darren, who stumbled on the site and e-mailed me imploring me to write more--here I am. So let me spend a few minutes trying to recap the last six weeks in general terms.

I handed in that first draft, which went pretty well. My teacher Michelle Latiolais had some high praise. I got a lot of constructive feedback from the class as well, which mostly centered on confusion of scene cuts. It's a bad habit of mine, jumping around in time abruptly and losing the reader somewhat. So those were technical issues, but people were really into the story, which was nice.

It felt great to finally have my work in the room, after five weeks of just critiquing other people's work when none of them had read mine. The most amazing thing is getting all the documents back with line edits and comments. The people in the program are so incredibly smart. They're 12 brilliant and unique readers, who each have their own way of looking into a text. I still have the stack sitting under my night table, and I'm looking forward to finding time to read them all a third time.

The weeks have gotten crazier, though, as we get to the end of the quarter--last day of classes is next Friday. I've been working constantly. On my new draft, which is due this Wednesday. On a million papers that I just finished grading, before I get a whole new pile next week. And I have a stupid paper to write for this mandatory seminar they've forced us to take, which is theory of pedagogy. It's horrible.

So this Thanksgiving I actually took the day off. Today, I finished my grading, and am about to go back to work on my draft. I've managed to write almost thirty pages in the last week and a half. But it's a mess right now, and I'm going to submit the pages under the guise of sections of a novel, rather than trying to wrap it all up into a story. I usually have to trim my writing down--cut out story lines and thoughts, because I write so expansively. Every scene I write is informed by another moment, and before I know it, I've got a million characters and scenes in ten pages--flashbacks inside flashbacks inside flashbacks. But this time I've decided to just let the writing be, and allow it to drift, and see where it goes.

I've also decided on my seminar choice for next quarter. I'm taking a course called transgenerational trauma. The reading list is quite good, Coetzee and Toni Morrison and other really good stuff. It's good for me, because much of my writing is about transgenerational trauma, focused on families--in Italian families, to be specific. So that's cool.

I've managed these last three weeks to get to the gym every day. UCI has this unbelievable new gym, which has all the equipment you might want. Basketball courts, swimming pools, racquet ball courts. For a while, the MFA poetry student joined an indoor intramural soccer league, and we played every Tuesday night. Soccer poets! My joke was that we should come up with plays--like "Do the Villanelle!" and we'd all rotate around in the zone. We lost most of the time, though.

So there's two more weeks of workshop. The last week we're meeting at Michelle's house in LA, and going to have a party afterwards. One of the cast is having a baby, so it's a combination "end of quarter-you're having a baby" party. Slash workshop.

So my life composes of going to the gym, spending about 10-12 hours a week critiquing workshop stories, around 10 hours working on the composition class I teach, and about 10 hours of actually being in class. There's papers and reading assignments also for the seminar course. So it's somewhere in there I try to find time to write. That's another ten hours on average. Which I do in binges, but this draft i've done working an hour or two a day. I must be missing some stuff, beause that sounds as though I have free time, which, I did, somehwat at the begining of the year, but now, I don't have any. My weekends are action packed if I get in a movie, or go to a grad student party one night.

I don't get out into the real world much, which is fine. I live on the University grounds, more or less. It's seventy or eighty degrees every day, but I haven't gone to the beach since I've been here.

So there's that. Gotta get back to work.