Rachel is Neurotic
I flatter myself that you’ve all noticed my recent lack of regular posts. It’s this kind of self-aggrandizement that allows me to believe that I will someday become an at least mildly successful writer, so you probably shouldn’t tell me I’m wrong.
Anyway, here’s what’s been up:
1) I’ve been applying to PhD programs. Why, you ask? I love school. A lot. I love learning about things that excite me, and sharing what I’ve learned with like-minded people (in this case, fellow writers). And yes, I love writing papers. Which is good, because PhD students write a lot of papers. Also, it’s a little-known fact about me that I actually started a PhD program in Ireland four and a half years ago but had to quit a semester in for a plethora of reasons (fiscal, personal, academic) that I won’t go into here. But in the last year, I’ve decided that the time has come to pick up the doctoral torch and make a run for it (I think that’s a reference to the Olympics…)
What I’ve learned so far is that the process of applying for PhD programs is ridiculously expensive, so I’ve only been able to apply to three schools. It’s expensive for several reasons, not the least of which is the GRE and the various GRE subject tests, which I couldn’t afford to take. Why didn’t I take the GRE to get into grad school, you ask? Because I went to grad school in Ireland, and they don’t care about the GRE. I’m not even sure a lot of them know what it is. Which makes me love them. I have long thought that the focus we place on standardized tests in this country is misplaced and counterproductive. Case in point: I freaked out about the GRE more than just about every other aspect of the application process. More than I did about references (which I admittedly freaked out a little over), transcripts, or any of my various and sundry admission essays and creative portfolios. Which is silly, really. If anything, I should have freaked out about my creative writing samples. Chalk this one up to that self-aggrandizement, I guess.
2) I’ve been rewriting (yet again) the damn novel. At first I was into it. I was excited about taking it to a higher level. I was chopping parts I thought were unnecessary, cleaning up the prose, rearranging the narrative to make it more exciting. And then, somewhere around Chapter 6, I just stopped caring. I don’t know if that’s because Chapter 6 is where the story starts to lose steam or if it’s because I’ve read the book too many times (which I undoubtedly have) or if it’s because I really, really, really just wanted to write something new. Probably all three.
So I’ve decided, yet again, to let it sit for a while, maybe let it go completely. I know, I know, I probably make this post once every six or so months. But here’s the thing: with the exception of two short stories, this novel is the only bit of fiction I’ve written in the last three or so years. That’s terrible. Sure, it’s disappointing that nothing has happened with it. But am I going to just spend my entire career writing one book? I have so much more to say, so many other stories I want to tell, than just this one story. And yeah, you could make the Kathryn Stockett argument that, oh, she just rewrote the same book 40 times and suddenly it was great! A bestseller! But I ask you this: what has she done since then?
Okay, okay, I know I have an extremely short attention span. This is a fact. We tried to lengthen it with drugs (legal ones, people), but they just gave me the jitters. I’m sorry, I’d rather get the jitters from coffee and retain my delightful personality. And I know that, in order to be a successful novelist, one must learn to focus, at least for a while. But if my heart’s not in it anymore, what’s the point? If I were starting my first novel today, it would not be the one I wrote three years ago. And call me crazy, but a writer ought to spend at least some of her time writing.
The point is, I’m not sure what’s going to happen to the novel, but whatever it is, it won’t happen for a few months.
3) Reading! Yes! I’ve been reading! I love reading! It’s fun! Hell, it’s FUN-damental!
4) Christmas is a thing.
5) Writing. Hey, guess what the best part about not editing anymore is? I’m writing new stuff! Like a real writer! Who’da guessed it?