My yearly blog entry is way overdue.

To bring my many readers up to date, I’m still working on my MFA, and I’m still dicking around with various “Little Magazines” trying to get something published. I haven’t been able to kick the habit totally. To quote Silvio quoting Michael Corleone, “I tried to get out but they drug me back.” Every time I write a new story, I can’t resist trying it out on some contest or other.

The MFA experience has been useful on the whole. I have picked up some new skills and read a lot of great stuff I wouldn’t have otherwise read. Nevertheless, the point of investing this much time and money hangs on whether or not I start getting stuff into print. Actually, aside from publication, what would be lovely is for the workshop leader to simply say, “This story is magnificent. I wouldn’t change a thing.” I learn from the workshops, but the learning comes from being introduced to my blunders. That’s helpful. I can usually avoid those specific blunders in the future. For instance, I am much less likely to bore a reader with long passages of dialogue that is really disguised exposition. But there are always other mistakes to make, and I never hear, “By God! You’ve done it!”

I’m reading How to Build a Girl by Caitlan Moran. It’s wonderful. I can’t imagine Caitlan Moran ever hearing discouraging words from workshop leaders. The novel’s heroine, Dolly Wilde, is a desperately poor, desperately horny 16 year old girl living in public housing and trying to break into rock-and-roll journalism in London. She explains that writing is one of the few activities poor people can engage in because “…writing, unlike choreography, architecture, or conquering kingdoms – is a thing you can do when you’re lonely and poor, and have no infrastructure, i.e. a ballet troupe or some cannons.” I am reminded of Catcher in the Rye only because Dolly is young like Holden Caulfield and also a seeker of truth. That’s where the resemblance ends. She is so much smarter and funnier than that irritating little pill.

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