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.
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.
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.