Reading on Enders Island.

Fairfield MFA

Reading today at Enders Island. If it looks like I’m on an altar, that’s because I am. Enders is a religious retreat, hence the cross and pulpit and stained glass. There’s also a relic in that church, but that’s another story entirely.

I’m back from my MFA program’s alumni day, which welcomes alums back to Enders Island for a meal and a hangout and allows us to attend a seminar and pretend that we’re still in school. Today I took a poetry seminar. I’m not a poet, but the teacher of the seminar I took is Baron Wormser, and he’s incredible, as you’d expect a poet laureate of Maine to be.  I’ve now taken two of his seminars, and just like the first seminar I took with him, this one – which explored argument in poetry – simultaneously inspired me and made my brain hurt.

The administration also very graciously allows us alumni authors to come back and read from our work during a special reading period, which is followed by a group book signing. I didn’t expect to be invited as a reader this residency, since I read last residency, but I was delighted to be invited back to the island to read alongside novelist Chris Belden and poet Colin Halloran.  Being a part of that line-up is no joke.

It’s also really cool for me for another reason: although I read primarily from Beware the Hawk, I was also able to read a taster from the upcoming book, The Eagle and the Arrow. One of the beautiful things about being part of the Fairfield MFA program is that it’s a safe place to share new work, and all three of us did that.

My husband was on camera duty for the reading, and I’m posting the fruits of his labors on my Facebook page. We had some technical difficulties with the lens, but he managed to get photos of the other readers as well. Feel free to visit, like the photos, comment, tag yourself and whatnot.

A little accountability please: New Year’s resolutions, month one.

It was not my intention to post this evening. I had instead planned to kick up my heels at the casino, but I’m killing off the remainder of the cold that was bugging me at the beginning of the week, so I’m home, hanging with Phyllis. I was berating myself for for not updating my blog enough when I realized that whoops, it’s the fourth of February, and I completely forgot to check in with my progress on my New Years goals.

Now’s as good a time as any. It’s that, or watch The Hunt for Gollum again, and I don’t know if I can stand to watch fake-Aragorn whisper any more lines while he stares moodily into the camera. Here we go:

Finish the second draft of my novel by April. Well, I don’t know if I’m going to make the April deadline, but I’m sure as hell going to try. I have my copies of my first draft, and they’ve been given out to one of my writing groups. I also have my office mostly prepped for the writing/revision marathon that’s about to begin. All I need is to spend a day reading through my own first draft.

Get it sent to agents before summer. That will depend on how the revisions go.

Send out at least three short stories. I have sent out exactly no short stories, but I have workshopped one, and I plan to re-tool it and submit it to my next writing group. Then it’s getting sent right out.

Read one novel a month in 2012. I’ve read two since January 1: The Fellowship of the Ring and a novella, Jack the Theorist. So that’s one and a half. I’m finishing The Two Towers right now, and then I’m taking a Tolkien break to read Carry-On, a novel by Chris Belden, an MFA colleague of mine.

Make at least $20 off a piece of fiction. I may have done this already. My book Beware the Hawk was released last month, and I know some people purchased it, but I won’t see a royalty check for a while, so I have no idea if I’ve made $20 or not. Right now, it’s enough to know that I’ve made even one cent off my creative work. Until now, I’ve been paid in writing credits, contributors’ copies and warm fuzzy feelings.

I also set myself to work on two of my big conflicts, which I will write about in detail at the end of the year.

The conflicts were my feelings about my faith and my issues with anxiety. I did a little bit of brainstorming about the faith issue, but I was forced to begin work on the anxiety issue after a panic attack in January. Right now I’m sporadically reading a good book about dealing with anxiety in a conscious way, called The Mindful Way through Anxiety, but I still have a lot of work to do, if I’m going to be ready to write an essay at the end of the year.

So that’s that. Stay tuned for more Beware the Hawk-related posts soon. I have a guest post interview coming up in the next week, and I’m hopefully going to have more blog tour dates to announce soon!