There is nothing scarier to a writer than an empty page and an incessant, blinking cursor. Well, except maybe one-upping yourself.
You're only as good as your last book, after all.
Yet, how far will a writer go to improve? We all go to conferences, sign up for workshops, even take online courses to refresh, renew and reinvigorate. But what about the mother of all honing exercises. What about (gulp) school?
You might be a writer if...you go back to school to become a better writer.
Now this probably gets at what kind of writer you want to be. Do you want to earn a million bucks for your work (popular), or do you want to be read in one hundred years (literary)? It seems like, although by no means is this an all-or-nothing scenario, but it seems like those who are more literary in focus are the ones who end up in school. I mean, it's not the best place to practice or win popularity, at least it wasn't for me, which really outs me, but then I'm 40 and I'm going back to school. Maybe the second time around I'll be popular? I've lost the glasses, but I still play violin. I'm doomed, aren't I?
Nonetheless, I applied to the Vermont College MFA in Writing for Children and got in!! Very exciting. I know, I know, not very exciting for everybody. I mean, I'm going back to homework, reading assignments, deadlines for papers, papers!, lectures, etc, etc, etc. Then again, I really did love college. A lot.
My reasons for going back to school to get this MFA are pretty simple. I want to be the best writer I can be. I'm intent, driven - maybe even a little obsessed - with getting better. This is the first thing I've worked at where I don't feel like there's a limit on "better." As a runner, I know my legs are only so long. My lungs can only process so much oxygen. My muscles can only contract and expand so much. (And I'm not getting any younger, but let's not talk about that) I'm limited physically in what I can do as a runner.
But as a writer? We apparently only use 10% of our brains. That means, 90% is just languishing there, waiting for someone to find the key and unlock it. 90% Think about that. Could be lots and lots and lots of brainpower just waiting to be harnessed and put to good work. I know, I know, I could be way off. Nobody really knows what that 90% is all about. I may only be unlocking, say, defunct, primitive programming that has to be stored somewhere, or storage space, or gobbly gook, but I'm being optimistic and hoping it's extra brain power.
I'll find out come, July 9, when I'm off to Montpelier, Vermont, to start an MFA in Writing for Children. I'm still very bright-eyed and bushy-tailed about it. Excited to say the least. After that 8th think piece, I may be singing a different tune, but growing is hard work. Nobody said it would be fun. Then again, I'm going to be hanging out with authors, talking books, dissecting and understanding how some of the great pieces of literature were put together, and then using that knowledge to bring my own ideas to life. Just thinking about it makes me want to rub my hands together and break out into deep, effusive, Mad Scientist laughter.
Me thinks, I'm going to have fun...but what about my teachers???