Friday, I'm participating in a panel discussion at the University of Nebraska MFA in Writing. I'm excited. Mostly because I get to see people I love--Bill Trowbridge, Karen Shoemaker, Lee Roripaugh, Teri Grim, Jim Peterson, Steve Langan (though technically, this last one would be more "feel antagonistic toward in an affectionate way")--but really, these people (and I know I'm leaving some out, I shouldn't have started listing names in the first place), they are like family, and being with them is like going home. I would agree to pretty much any panel topic just for the excuse to be there, but what we're talking about on Friday is building a writing life, and what that looks like in the world post-MFA. I almost said building a "successful" writing life, but that's kind of laughable isn't it? So maybe the qualifier we should be looking for is "fulfilling"? Or maybe at times just "bearable"?
Actually, it's a topic I'm excited to talk about, and probably because I'm at a point where I feel like the life I've constructed is much more than bearable. It's actually kind of great. I have a job that I love. I have an amazing community of writers that I get to interact with. I get to work on burntdistrict with one of my favorite people (and so many phenomenal poets and hardworking interns and loyal subscribers, and all of these people who invest so much of their own in it). Spark Wheel Press is putting the finishing touches on our first book (Can I tell you how exciting this is? And how good this book is? I mean, really, it is so, so good.). And my own writing life too, (I won't say it's going well, but I'll say it's productive, very productive, I mean, really, who knew you could string together so many goddamn words? And to think, just last year, I worked mostly in white space. Weird.).
Anyway, I'm excited to talk about it. Because often I think we writers talk about dissatisfaction--with our writing, or our publications (or lack thereof), or the fact that there's no time, or no money (negative money actually, you kind of have to be cool with that). But I think one of the things I love about this writing life is that there is no one way to do it. It's wide open. You imagine the life you want, and then you work your ass off and make it happen. I don't mean the publications, or the achievements, those things may come or not (statistically not, you kind of have to be cool with that too). I mean the life itself-- the daily living of it, the work, the people you surround yourself with, this community of writers who support and encourage and inspire. It's good. It's very good. Almost better than I imagined.