Creating and balancing a writing life is one of the most challenging part of being a writer in the world. Now that its been about 2 years post-MFA, I have some reflection space to think about my writing life and how it has changed since MFA: During my time in graduate school, I was familiar with a certain sense of frequency- just write, write, write, produce! oh! and know that you will suck cause your new/young, you may as well give up now…I recognize that the high intensity structure of a low residency MFA might not have been the best option for how I learn and develop as a writer.
It was still a valuable experience! I learned so much and still feel connected to the community I built there, but I couldn’t help but feel as though it was this frantic, drop everything and step out of your life thing (where we gathered for 10 days of work-shopping, reading and seminar).
It was wonderfully all-consuming in that it felt like a writing vacation, but once returning to my normal life, it was difficult to bridge those realities. I know that a huge piece was the fact that I was very recently divorced, single mother of a one year old. I struggled through the emotional ups and downs and financial difficulties. In one way this made my writing residencies super important as they served as my constant, my time to shift my focus back to the big picture of my life as a creative being. But, on the downside, it felt like a huge shift post MFA, I started a new middle school teaching job where it felt close to impossible to maintain a writing flow (other than my blog, and even that was scant). At that point, I felt strongly about shifting my awareness towards rebuilding my personal and emotional life. Writing most certainly was still at the cornerstones of that, but I simply no longer jived with the culture of guilt I built around myself for not meeting accountability deadlines.
I became my worse enemy, would feel badly if I didn’t complete a project or submit to a million places that way fellow grads might have been doing. Thankfully, after a hard, but necessary dry summer (dry, as in lack of writing production), I found that I needed that time to slow down and listen to my new life frequency. Jobs and ideas shifted, schedules changed, priories reordered. Recently, I found a local community based writing course that fits perfectly with my schedule and needs. I get to be back to work-shopping peers, producing writing, all in a more realistic time frame.
The name of that community organization is (of course) Frequency. I didn’t read into the name and what it might represent to me till just recently, when I felt like I was finally tuning into what works best for me and my writing now. For example, one of our in class writing exercises was making a list of life moments or events that we either experienced or witnessed that held a lot of weight for us and managed to stay with us or define us over the years. I began like I normally would listing: immigration, war, transitioning to life in the US, learning English, changing schools….Then remembering my current writing project ( which is based on what I would want to read and holds tons of inspiration for me) I stopped and made a new list right next to it:
The time the Providence River Cove was uncovered: http://www.urbanophile.com/2012/04/10/providence-the-rust-belts-most-northeasterly-point-by-nicholas-cataldo/
When police discovered a secret apartment illegally built in the mall: http://consumerist.com/2007/10/03/man-builds-secret-apartment-at-mall-gets-away-with-it-for-four-years/
The gator released into the Providence River: http://www.ibtimes.com/alligator-living-river-and-four-foot-alligator-found-home-819269
and so on… I know it might not seem like a big deal to others, but for years, my life has been defined by these huge life events I had no control over as a child. Now for the first time, I have allowed myself to tune into to other frequencies…
Check out and support Frequency: http://frequencywriters.org