MFA in Creative Writing: Masters in Fine Avoidance

It has become impossible for me to maintain my fun and light-hearted side when I post on this site.  Lord.

My name is the URL gives me the creeps – like this should be my PROFESSIONAL space where I show off how SMART I am or have the capacity to be.

The problem, I’ve realized is that SMART is not necessarily equivalent to being authentic or even compelling.  I’ve thought a lot about this lately as the end of the MFA looms.  I’m reviewing my writing – all the critiques and feedback and scribbles in the margins – and there is one consistency: I hold back.  Still, even after all this time I’ve been laying essay after essay, I’m holding back.

The question.

WHAT am I am holding back?


WHY am I holding back?

Even better:

WHAT is gained by holding back?

The only answer that I can offer myself is the illusion of safety.  To write one’s mind is cathartic.  To have one’s mind read, interpreted, and opened is terrifying.  I didn’t have such qualms in my 20s.  Perhaps because I never really aimed at the larger world of publishing.  The internet, as vast and limitless as it seems, is not very scary to me.  There are niches and pockets of places where I am read, but I figured they were all rather small in number.  To project oneself PAST that world, into places where I don’t know, into communities where I would not identify is something of a different animal; a realization that puts me in a cold sweat.  Maybe the difference is minute, but it feels stark.

To bid farewell to one’s work and watch it be metabolized into bodies unknown is what holds me back.  I don’t want to be mistaken, misunderstood, or judged. (A rather common desire, I think.)  And I very well could write in circles for the many years to come, giving just enough that I gain some kind of circulation and respect for writing some fraction of my truth.  This would be safe.  This would ensure interest in my writing but not really a response or challenge.  This is one option.

The other option is the one where I write the process of how I arrived at such a belief; the contrarian existences in my life that I employ in my everyday.  This is the other option: to be brave.

I’ve been slammed in workshops not for my writing but for my reluctance to share the process of my mind behind the story.  What I submitted as essay has always been story telling with the occasional aphorism to inject some jazz and spark every now and again.  But I won’t share the fire of my contention or the heartbreak of pain or the resurgence of ghosts, habit, and failings.

Maybe I will.

Maybe I will write down instead of writing up.


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