Sunday, February 21, 2010

My Future

The past two weeks have forced me to second guess my future plans. I've been an educator for seven years, and it never occurred to me that I would abandon teaching. Until two weeks ago. Now I'm not sure if I will survive as a career teacher. It's disheartening to see how people in my state do not value education and how easy it is for them to take away funding, increase class sizes (we're already at 40+!), and lower teacher morale.

While reading Scribbler of Dreams by Mary E. Pearson this weekend, I found this quote: "I am through writing about regret and what might have been. I cannot change the past--only the future. And the only thing I can really change about the future is me. I have me, and I have my writing, two gifts ... and that is a lot to built a future with. Enough" (215).

What perfect advice for me! I've recently been regretting my decision to be a teacher instead of a lawyer, a choice I made over ten years ago. But regret doesn't get me anywhere. Moving ahead does. And I want to build my future, particularly my writing future, which is why I applied this week for Vermont College's Master of Writing for Children and Young Adults. When I told my parents about my decision to apply, their first question was, "Will this help you earn more money in your job?" No! And why should it? This is something that I'm doing entirely for ME. The degree is great, but it's what I will learn along the way that is more valuable to me.

Now I just have to wait the 4-6 weeks to see if I'm accepted. If I don't get in, I may need chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Change of Priorities

Isn't it amazing how three short weeks can change someone's perspective? Last month, I was all about getting published: who to talk to about my novel, where to send my manuscript, and how to make it happen.

This month, I've accepted reality: my manuscript is far from being ready for publication. Truthfully, there were some days when I wanted to chuck my manuscript into the garbage and abandon my dream of writing. It's taken some time, but I've realized that I need to change my priorities.

Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life sums this idea up quite well: "I just try to warn people who hope to get published that publication is not all that it is cracked up to be. But writing is. Writing has so much to give, so much to teach, so many surprises. That thing you had to force yourself to do--the actual act of writing--turns out to be the best part ... The act of writing turns out to be its own reward."

It's time for me to take a step backwards and start working on becoming a better writing. To do this, I am going to apply to the low residency MFA program at Vermont College, an idea that terrifies me completely. Not only do I have to battle my self-doubt about whether or not I'll even get accepted, but the two-year commitment of 25 hours a week is overwhelming. But as my good friend Andria reminded me, I was able to write 50,000 words in one month during NaNoWriMo. If I found the time to do that, I certainly can devote the necessary time in the MFA program, especially because I really do want to become a better writer.

In the meantime, I'm going to do the one activity that truly makes someone a better writer: WRITE!