It’s been a busy four months, but my first semester is finished! I have learned some valuable lessons as I’ve gone along, and I thought it might be a good thing to share them:
1. When your life is full and you take on additional responsiblities, something must give. Using every minute wisely is great in theory, but exhausting in practice. I did find it was helpful to use down time such as waiting in a doctor’s office or for my kids to finish guitar lessons to catch up on twitter or other social media. But it is not realistic to raise children, go to school, write and try to find publishers, keep up a blog, maintain a platform, and stay sane. Prioritize your schedule and do the best you can, but recognize what can and should give.
2. Any book on craft that you choose to read should be approached with an open mind, and without a need to feel compelled to agree just because the author is famous and highly honored. Orhan Pamek states in his The Naive and The Sentimental Novelist that a protagonist’s character is developed the same way a living person’s is: it is the product of what happens to you. This statement, while true, completely dismisses the inherent essence of being human, in which what happens to you is fused with the fundamentals of your being (whether you are a visual or auditory learner, your intellectual capacity, your emotional core that determines how you behave even before birth, and so on). I think it is important to remember that great writers, while worthy of study and consideration, are no more omniscient than the rest of us and that we should consider what they are saying critically.
3. If you are in a low residency MFA program, take advantage of social network groups offered by your school, as it gives you a chance to get to know your classmates, ask for advice from those who are ahead of you in the program, and feel connected with your school community even when you are at a distance from them, working in large part independently.
4. Forgive yourself if you can’t keep up with your blog.
I hope you find this helpful.