The MFA Residency

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Blogging is actually kind of hard. I’m tempted to start over every few years. My interests change over time. So do my opinions. I’m not consistent. Sometimes I declare I’m going to do things one way, then I do them another way. Years ago, I wrote a blog post complaining about a boyfriend, or at least that sounds like something I would have done. When I was self-publishing a collection a few years ago, I was blogging about that. While I was getting my MBA, I blogged about that some. Now I’m in an MFA program for creative writing. I don’t know if I want to blog about it or not, but odds are I will, at least some.

The truth is, I have to stop writing as much for my blog because I have to write other things that I can’t post on it. I have to start saving some of my fiction for some literary journals and things again. Savings my rejection letters. Framing them. That sort of thing. I’m convinced I can come up with a happy balance between writing for my blog and for my literary submissions, but I haven’t exactly figured out a plan yet.

I could do a few things:

  • Save my blog posts for announcements and stuff. This will likely be only a few year, if even that. I doubt I’ll get any real publication credits while I’m in the MFA program, so there just won’t be many things I’ll need to announce. This option would be more effective later, if I ever do get some vetted publications, perhaps in a few years. (Probably more like 10 years from now.)
  • I could just not talk about my writing at all and start blogging about—I don’t know—urban sketching? I’m really not very good at it. Or, I could do book reviews. I’m not very good at those either. If I finish a book, I liked it. 5 stars. Good job. Let’s go get a coffee.
  • I could try to write some pieces every few months specifically for the blog while I’m also writing for school and for lit journals and things, and try not to go insane. I’d have to be very decisive about what I posted on my blog because once I post certain pieces on my blog, most lit journals won’t take them. (Though there are some journals that do reprints. There are also a few journals that really just don’t care.)
  • I can use my blog to play around with creative nonfiction work, playing around with things like tense, titles, and tension and things like that.
  • I could just stop blogging.

The right answer is probably somewhere in-between all of these things. I know my posting frequency will continue to be less. Judging from the summer residency, the reading and writing requirements in this program are going to be pretty up there.

The residency itself was really great. It was a lot of writing and running around for twelve hours straight every day for about two weeks, but the craft lectures were interesting and the workshops were helpful. Everyone seems nice. The issues I had at residency were more personal, one of them being something that caught me a little off guard.

My mom died two days before the end of the residency. It was an unexpected death. She was in another state. No one really knew why. I had to step away for half a day or so and make a bunch of phone calls, but after that there wasn’t much else that could be done besides wait for the coroner to cremate and ship. The funeral was a dinner with a small group of friends and family. She didn’t have insurance. I distanced myself from her a few years ago. Some version of our issues will probably end up in a side-story of a novel some day. I’ll save it for then.

The fall semester started Monday, August 15th. I’m still working at the law firm full time. I’ll see what my schedule is like over the next few weeks—I should have some idea about how often I’ll have something to blog about soon. If I had to guess, I’d say I could write something for the blog once a month, or every six weeks, or something like that. Something about a book I’m reading, a funny story that happened to me recently, or a few of those really-really-short stories a year on occasion, too.

We’ll see.

By Eric Shay Howard

Eric Shay Howard lives in Indianapolis. He's a teacher, a literary editor, and writer. He's a graduate student in the Bluegrass Writers Studio MFA in Creative Writing program at Eastern Kentucky University. He also has MBA and BA degrees.

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