You're going to start seeing more creative stuff from me.
There's a creative writing program in Madison that has me very intrigued. It's a two-year program, and from what I can tell, many students have gone on to publish good books and become fairly important people. If you get in, tuition is basically free, you get a stipend for teaching one class each semester plus a scholarship for the first summer, and students get the same health care package as the faculty. Health care, people. I haven't had that for three years.
All in all, this looks like an amazing program. I already know I love the Madison area, so that's no problem. The creative writing program is fairly new, but I've only heard great stuff about it (if you know otherwise, please tell me). If (and this is a big if, just because we haven't asked questions yet) Spousal Unit can also in at Madison for his PhD, we'll be set for pretty much forever. And then we'll skip down Lollipop Lane together, holding hands while hot pink butterflies float about our heads and fairies sprinkle my head with pixie dust and induce allergies. (Which is to say I know it won't be perfect. But it would be really, really nice.)
Now comes the catch: they only admit six students every year. SIX. I haven't asked yet what the competition is like because I'm terrified that they get something like 200 applicants every year and I'll be stampeded in the mad rush to stardom and the comfortable, do-nothing lifestyle that comprises a writer's existence (ha ha).
Only twelve students are in residence each year: six in poetry, six in fiction. This year, they're accepting fiction applications for the 2012-2013 school year. That's another problem: I'm pretty sure I want to take the fiction courses, but my style (or at least, the style I want to have) is extremely poetic. So would fiction or poetry benefit me more? I'm pretty sure it would be fiction - another question I can ask when I have the guts to do so.
I also have to make sure they are okay with genre fiction (meaning scifi and fantasy in particular). I think they are, but some programs have a strict policy against it.
Applications are due Dec. 15, so that gives me a good chunk of time in which to read, write, and revise like a madwoman. I'm more or less starting from scratch again, so I'll have to be pretty hard on myself - more than willing to do that. It will be hard, but fun. The application needs 30 pages of writing. I can polish up 'Souvenirs,' my college-era short story, and compose a new one. Maybe with zombies. Or maybe I'll just save the zombies for my novel.
When I first came across this idea (sometime last week), I felt kind of odd about wanting it. I kind of felt like a poser, almost, because it's been so long since I focused my skills and really wrote anything. But I started reading some poetry and trying to write some poems, which seemed like the place to start, and now my heart is much more in it. I'm awakening from years of hibernation and tasting the beauty of language again. And writing terribly composed prose, but I'll get over that in time.
Those of you who know me on face-space know I posted a thingy saying I want to write like Neil Gaiman, Jeanette Winterson, Pablo Neruda, and Paolo Bacigalupi. Let me expand on that. I want Neil Gaiman's mythology and simple beauty, Jeanette Winterson's phrasings and knack for the impossible, Pablo Neruda's commentary on war and humanity, and Paolo Bacigalupi's world building. It's a lot, I know, but I have plans to make this happen.
And then I will win the National Book Award, the Hugo, the Nebula, and the Nobel Prize in Literature in the same year. Hey, I've never been one to have small goals; why start now?
*This is so my new pen name.