Flunked Adjunct? I should probably rename the blog ‘Flunked Blogger’ but it doesn’t quite have the same ring to it (Psst – I just spent an obscene amount of time looking for a word that means approximately the same as ‘flunk’ but that also rhymes with blogger. Spoiler Alert – there aren’t any. On the up side, I did learn a new word – Mauger: thin, emaciated, puny. The Mauger Blogger.)
So where have I been for the last few months? Choose from the following:
a) Insane Asylum
I finally crumpled beneath a pile of essays so terrible, they might have been written by Tom Cullen from Stephen King’s The Stand
(or at least, Tom Cullen from the 90’s mini-series adaptation of The Stand – Do you remember it? It’s magnificent. unconvinced? What if I said frizzy-mullet Canadian tuxedo wearing satan?).
Ladies and Gentlemen, I’ll leave you for a few moments so that you may recover from your burning lust.
b) Having a cathartic spiritual encounter with a baba in India
We swam in the Ganges. He swam into my heart. I saw his testicles. He saw my soul. I am renewed, a being of light, a feather on the wind.
c) Becoming a sister-wife in a cult
It’s great! They allowed my husband to become a sister wife too. Also, I learned how to make soap from the fat of a goat and how to make a noose out of my long, flowing hair in case I ever need to hang myself.
The correct answer is D) All of the above. Actually, I was really studying in earnest for the GRE. I decided to take the leap and apply to a PhD program, and you know what that means, right? Exactly. One solid year of listening to the little voice inside my head whisper things like “You know, you might not get accepted anywhere. PhD programs are pretty selective. Also you’re dumb. Also, your cat is an asshole. Also, Snooki has published a book and you have not. Snooki.”
On the up side, the studying paid off for the most part: I got a perfect score on the writing portion of the GRE (6/6) and a 169/170 on the verbal portion (vocab, sentence equivalence, text completion, reading comprehension). We won’t discuss my math scores, but I’ll give you a visual depiction of me during the quantitative section:
Yes, that’s right – I turned into a cat. Also, I was still bad at math (and chemistry or whatever it is that cat is trying to do with those beakers and liquids – cook meth, maybe?). So, it went OK.
Now I will spend the next few months working on writing samples. Since I’m applying to Creative Writing PhD programs (Yes, you read that correctly, and I know what you’re thinking: Why not apply for a PhD in Interpretive Dance because that would be about as useful as a Creative Writing PhD), I need to create some writing.
The thing is, I’ve started and deleted, oh, maybe hundreds of stories and novels over the years and I’ve yet to finish a single one with the exception of some flash fiction. Why? That same voice that is sending me into fits of night sweats just thinking about the possibility that I might not get accepted into any programs also sits in my ear while I write. At first, I feel exhilarated when I get an idea for a new story – my heart races, my fingers fly over the keyboard. Eventually, though, I take the time to read what I’ve written, and then I start thinking, “Wow, this is terrible. You should stop now before anybody sees this because that would be supremely embarrassing for you.” The longer I persist, the more I start feeling physically ill, nauseous, disgusted with the contrived plots and the one-dimensional characters and the stilted dialogue until the only logical thing to do seems to be highlight+backspace.
Well, I finally forced myself to work through the nausea and finish a short story. It’s still not good. I know that. I can feel it. On the other hand, it’s a finished draft at least, and now I need some feedback. My husband did give me some, but he’s far too cognizant of the fact that he has to stay married to me after criticizing me, and that if he offends me I might sever his nipples in his sleep and feed them to the cat (I’m kidding. I’m not crazy. Yes. I. Am.)
I need faceless internet strangers to tear it apart for me because that is the only way I will get better. I need to write and receive feedback on enough terrible drafts that I start to get better (that’s how it works, right?) I already know this won’t be the story I submit as a writing sample (I’ve already come up with some better story ideas that I will work on next), but I don’t want to abandon it because that is what I always do. I want to make it as good as I possibly can before I relinquish it and move on so that I can actually say that I finished a story – that I followed through despite my best efforts to self-sabotage.
So this post was written not, primarily, to entertain you (I’m sorry), but more-so to beg for your help. If you’re willing, leave me a comment or send me an e-mail, and I will send it to you. If not, that’s cool.
I start a new semester next week at the community college, so there should be plenty of colorful characters to share with you.