Wednesday, April 27, 2011

It Really Is Over

A copy of my thesis arrived today. It's now official: the MFA is over.
Let's see what happens next.....

Monday, April 25, 2011

Cat, Lion, Inspiration

I spent my Easter on the couch watching movies. I don't know a lot of people in Maryland yet and all of my family is in Omaha (I was jealous of the big family dinner my mom was throwing), so I decided to veg out with my cat. All of the movies I watched were inspirational in some kind of way and I felt like maybe I should blog about them (in order to have a bit more frequent posting on my blog).

First: "The Secret"
It's a documentary about "The Secret" to success, happiness, love, wealth, etc. Basically the "Law of Attraction" or you could consider it the art of positive thinking. This documentary struck a chord with me because I can have incredibly negative thoughts about myself, and I've noticed lately that I'm going no where fast. So, I've decided to start projecting happiness. Meditating on what I want so that it will come to me (in some form) in the future. I suppose this is all very New Age-y, but I'm down.

Second: "The White Lion"
This was a movie that I came across on Netflix and was like "sure why not." I mean who doesn't like Lion King-esque movies that take place in Africa? The movie opens up with this old man telling children the story of the sacred white lion. How it was shot reminds me a lot of "Meerkat Manor." There's a lot of animals doing what they do (although part of me wondered if any of the animals were trained) and then the movie's scripted around it (which is just my guess). What I loved most about this movie was that my cat was watching it too. How cute is that? He was sprawled out on the floor in front of the couch staring up at the TV as the big cats romped around. I love it when he watches TV and actually seems interested in what's happening. And when there are other cats on the screen I feel a little sad that he doesn't have a friend. He has to watch his people on TV. Sad. But I don't want another cat so he'll have to settle with me being part of his little lion pride.

Third: "The Land Before Time"
Remember this movie?!? I decided to watch it for nostalgic reasons--my siblings and I loved this movie. And, I cried my eyes out when his mother died. I realized that this is a good movie to explain death to kids. Of course I don't really recommend popping in a DVD after the death of a parent and expect that to be enough. At any rate... the movie was as good as I remember and that always makes me happy. What blows is when you go back as an adult and watch some of the kid TV/movies that you were into (ie: Full House) and realize how utterly horrible it all is. Yep, yepyep, yep, yep!

Fourth: "God Grew Tired of Us"
Oh wow, I highly recommend this to ALL people. It's a documentary about the Lost Boys of the Sudan. It follows three young men who come to America as refugees and talks about the story of them fleeing persecution in southern Sudan (they walked to Ethiopia and then the walked to Kenya). The biggest thing for me with this movie is realizing how much I take for granted. It was fascinating watching them learn about electricity and running water, and their observations of Americans was kind of disturbing/sad. Anyway, this was a really excellent documentary. Everyone should watch it.

Fifth: "Eat, Pray, Love"
I haven't read the book and I didn't see what was so horrible about the movie. I do want to read the book, I think. There are some good messages in there about living and loving and existing. Knowing who you are. It did make me want to travel. What I would give for that kind of freedom. To say: "hey, I'm outta here for a year to find myself, peace out."

I think it's true what Chris Rock says about wealth: "Wealth is not about being rich, it's about having options."

I want some options.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sometimes I think I've been ruined by the MFA

So, a little tête-à-tête of rambling for today:

I feel like the MFA is still caught up in my brain. Like I have little professors and peers whispering and scolding: you should be reading this or that, not this or that. Today I went to Barnes and Noble to buy Aimee Bender's novel "The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake" (I had a coupon), and since the purchase, I've been asking myself why I bought it. Don't get me wrong, Bender's a great writer (or so I'm told), but I probably wouldn't have known about her or felt any desire at all to purchase her novel had it not been for someone in my MFA program (a professor or student, doesn't really matter who) to sit up and say: "Hey, you should be reading her."

Why? Why should I be reading her? Because she's "literary"? Because she's got mad diction skillz?

And then, with Bender novel in hand, I found myself in fiction anthologies looking at the O'Henry and Pushcart collections for this year, thinking to myself "I really should start reading/writing short stories again."

WHY?!?! What should I be reading/writing short stories?

I don't really like short stories (I mean they're fine and yes I'm trying to get some published, but I don't really care about them). I like novels. I am a novelist, not a short story writer. And still, I'm thumbing through a few of the Pushcart stories, reading opening paragraphs, wondering if I should buy these too because I really should keep up to date with what's happening in the short story world.

Ugh, really?

And then I think about my current project (a supernatural YA novel) and how I'm constantly questioning my decision to use a pen name instead of my real name when/if I'm actually successful and get it published. (I'm about to make a strong attempt to reach out to agents soon.) Here's what I think to myself: "Well, you might want to get serious one day, so you'd better use a pen name." And THEN I think: "Who the hell said you're not 100% serious with this totally awesome (cause it is) supernatural YA novel? Use your real name on this and a fake name on anything 'serious' (aka: literary)." Then my conscience is like: "But Tanya, you really should use your name on serious novels."

I'm so messed up in my head. The MFA program made me ashamed of myself in a way. I don't like that. It frustrates me beyond measure that I'm not 100% comfortable talking about or showing my YA stuff to my MFA peers.

My friends.

I wonder when I'll feel comfortable enough to share my alter ego (aka: real self) with more people. I guess four months post graduation is not enough time to really heal from something as mind blowing as an Master of Fine Arts program.


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