I started writing this last week. Now I write all the time because of this blog. And recently, I have been writing material to sell on the popular Teachers Pay Teachers. However, last week I really started to dig back into writing fiction. When I was an undergrad English major, I really got into writing but never really did much with it. I certainly enjoyed it at the time, but life’s circumstances got in the way, and I didn’t maintain the discipline needed. I’ve always admired those people who write no matter what, who make the time. It’s the only way someone can really be successful in the craft, making it an everyday priority.
Before we get to that, here’s this week’s Spotify playlist:
I came across a post on r/writing that shared a DIY MFA syllabus. I really liked the required texts and the suggested pacing to make this a two-year journey. My goal is to follow that pacing and work through the material while building back those writing muscles. I don’t know what the end product will be but feeling those creative juices start to flow again so easily felt wonderful. I did some freewriting using Joe Brainerd’s I Remember style. I sketched out a short story from those notes that I plan to start working on this week. I’d also played with some ideas for a horror novella or maybe a novel based on some autobiographical elements. I started thinking about the birth of a haunted house rather than a family just moving into one, which has percolated into lots of other ideas and notes.
This all leads me to contemplate how hard it is to get lost in creative pursuits in the type of labor system we live under at the moment. I know my teaching job sapped everything from me, between the act of teaching (which I enjoyed) and the volume of afterschool grading and planning (which I despised). When I got home, my brain was so drained I couldn’t engage in those creative muscles, so they atrophied. All of what I’m doing now is working them out again and strengthening them.
I also recalled how I used to get so lost in reading, which fed those creative centers. When I lived in Bellingham, Washington, I really indulged in fiction. I really dug into Paul Auster and Jorge Luis Borges. Now, I don’t plan on writing in as post-modern and surreal a style as those writers, but their work certainly helped me understand what writing can be and the kinds of stories it is possible to tell. In college, I made many discoveries of writers on my own, just happening across Haruki Murakami and Raymond Carver at a local bookstore without any foreknowledge of these authors. I think my writing is influence by these writers to a degree, mainly the blend of real-life and subtle aspects of the surreal & strange.
I don’t know where this writing journey will carry me as my physical journey looks more & more like going overseas in the next year. No matter where I end up, I hope to keep working these writing muscles out. I never expect to become wealthy from my blog, my teaching products, or this fiction writing. But I appreciate the fulfillment I get from seeing myself improve and grow. Being recognized with payment is just a bonus, and it definitely helps sustain me. I just wish the United States was a society where people could pursue these things without feeling they aren’t going to make ends meet. I’m a big believer that food, shelter, health care, and education should be universal rights guaranteed to all. Your job shouldn’t consume your life, and outside interests should be encouraged. There are so many people who never went after a craft they have talent in because the mountain of bills piles up. It’s one of the reasons moving to another country is becoming a more prominent possibility. I want to live in a place where my job doesn’t eat my soul.