Moving through the muck

Happy Be-lated New Year. Twenty-four days into the new year and I realized that I totally skipped the whole “let us reflect on 2009 thing.” Don’t worry, I am not going back there as I am all about looking ahead these days. But, I will say this about 2009. It was the year that I really took my writing seriously. It was the year that I put a plan into action about my writing and followed through. So for that 2009, I thank you…

Moving forward, I have been in kind of a strange place the past couple of weeks. Mostly because I fell in December and sprained my ankle pretty badly. You can read all about that here: As my body moved slowly, my mind was racing. While journal writing daily, I was actually stuck on a a scene in the novel. I knew that I had to get to the scene where all the shit finally comes down, but I wasn’t sure how it was actually going to go. I knew bits and pieces, but not the whole. And, so, finally back on the bus in the morning, a bit of it started to emerge. I started writing a scene but then skipped right to the end of it where the characters are faced with their worse fears. The rest started to flow quite naturally after that. There are still lots of pockets to fill, but I feel like it is finally on its way again. I breathe a quiet sigh of relief.

One of the components of applying for the writing program is that you have to submit and three to four page critical essay. It can be something that you have written previously and so I thought that it would probably good to use my thesis because, really, if there is anything that represents the totality of something critical that I’ve written, that would be it. How strange was it to return to my 148 page treatise on Joan of Arc. How strange was it it see how much information I still retained regarding the maid – makes sense I guess I lived her for five years. How difficult was it to find four pages and then work those pages so that it makes sense outside the context of 148 pages. I saw how I built on my ideas and made them flow. How was I going to show that in four pages…So, I took one argument/section. Five hours later, I think that it stands on its own. Hopefully the committee will think the same thing.

Today, I am working on the “personal essay” component. Admittedly, I think that I am procrastinating a bit. Earlier in the week, I came home and soaked my aching ankle in the bathtub and hand wrote a loose first draft about my relationship to writing. I laughed a little because I know that this is what this blog is kind of supposed to be. Much of the time, I dig as deep as I can and try to convey some kind of clarity on this writing life. Most of the time, I think that I am writing in muddled words and swampy scenes…for I do think that is what this writing life kind of is. Always working through the muck to come out the other end, dirty but feeling like you shed a hundred pounds of baggage…

Finding the concise phrasing in three pages to convey this messy relationship with my writer-self is a challenge. But, that is okay because I guess I have been practicing. So, my friends, wish me luck today as I dig deep enough to write something that is truthful and significant.

About Melanie J. Fishbane

My novel, MAUD: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M. Montgomery was published in 2017 through Penguin Random House on April 25, 2017. I hold an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Here I talk about my writing process, things I love, and creative people who inspire me.
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