I'm sick, and I'm such a wuss about being sick -- today was my second day off work, and judging from the sound of my cough, I may stay home tomorrow too. Or maybe I'll go in just to get some sympathy. I'm sure I can just sit in my office and cough, and everyone will leave me alone because -- one listen and they'll be afraid to come any closer. I believe I may be hacking up some less-than-vital internal organs here. Ew.
Not much to say tonight. I'm feeling frustrated in general; I've felt too muzzy-headed to do much reading the past couple of days, and certainly no writing; I have a bunch of poems out -- some since September or October -- and at this point I'd be happy to get rejections, just to get things moving again; I keep doing math in my head and thinking longingly of low-residency MFA programs and deciding I'd be crazy to take out some $25K in student loans in my mid-forties when I have very little saved for retirement as it is, even though I think one of those programs would be awfully good for my writing. Because I'm just not good enough right now, not as good as I want to be. And maybe if I had more discipline and could make myself sit at my desk and read & write for three hours a night without the carrot/stick of an MFA hanging over my head, I'd improve. But so often I think what I need is a mentor, and that's pretty hard to come by outside of a formal program of some sort. And how am I supposed to know whether I even have the potential to get any better, to get as good as I want to be? That's where the external validation of an MFA might be nice.
My poetry group is nice, but we just work on fixing each individual poem in front of us, tinkering and editing, and it's helpful at a certain level, but I need to learn how to step back and look at my work as a whole, how to make the next poem better and how to take risks, how to (say it!) put together a book manuscript. And how to get it out there, yes, and get it published -- because I want that, I admit it, uncool as that may be. I don't need to work on my poems, I need to work on my poetry.
Maybe D.A. Powell's workshop in June will help with that. Maybe a summer workshop every year or two is all I need. And I can afford that, sort of. It's not like I want an MFA so I can get a job -- I already have a master's degree that can get me a job. (A second master's would help me get some librarian positions, though.) There's nothing magic about an MFA that instantly makes you a better writer. I do think it would be very good for me, but surely it's not the only way for me to go. It had better not be, because I just plain bloody can't afford it.
And how do you know if you're ready -- and if you're good enough -- to put together a book ms.? I suppose I should just sit down and do it and see what happens, but I wish I understood the process. I mean, I sort of do, but I don't think I really do, you know?
Apparently "intense self-doubt and frustration" is one of the symptoms of the common cold. This, too, shall pass. I already had some chicken soup today, so sleep is my next stop.