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A writer who grew up wearing flip-flops...

Hello, all!  Here's my (still) much neglected web site of all things Mel.  Life is still chaotic (with me joining the ranks of motherhood and feverishly working on my dissertation), and I realize I haven't been updating myself here the way I should.  I'll try to do better in 2012.
 
Thanks for visiting!
--Mel
 
P.S.  Buy my book! 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Writerly Valentine's Day!
And just to follow up on my long, embarrassing rant from yesterday, writers have been hating on each other since the dawn of civilization. Truly. The big climax in Aristophanes' The Frogs is a verbal slugfest between two poets mocking each others' favorite patterns of meter. Dryden's famous Essay of Dramatic Poesy is partly devoted to a lengthy call-out to some poets who (in Dryden's opinion) are pathetic hacks.  This leads me to believe that writers as an overall community just aren't cut out for loving each other.  There's always going to be a certain group that hates another, either for specific work, style, or (most likely) the accolades one group receives. 
 
My good friend Beth Goldner says the best compliment a writer can pay another is to be envious of her.  So here's to all you fellow writers out there: may we all do each other the great honor of being completely jealous!
11:20 am pst

Monday, February 13, 2012

I have a chip on my shoulder the size of South Dakota
This post from Mike Magnuson helped me see that. Of course, I saw one passage he'd written--about Facebook and his irritation at writers who tout themselves there--out of context and had a furious, knee-jerk reaction that nearly took out my dining room table. That was my bad--I'm trying to teach myself to skim, since I'm such a slow reader, but skimming doesn't always work. Especially when I see things that I expect to see, and I expect those things to piss me off.

Still, I think this guy has it wrong about writers peddling themselves on Facebook. This could be because I often toot my own horn on Facebook. This could also be because Facebook is about the only form of publicity I can muster. As a writer whose reputation is beyond microscopic, the problems of someone who has 5 novels published and who teaches graduate-level creative writing on a regular basis YET is still not well known just doesn't make me very sympathetic. Magnuson's story tells you all you need to know about writing in general--only a tiny percentage of authors become known, let alone famous. It's even harder to stay known. But reading about how I'm not only not one of those known authors, I'm also not one of the unknown ones who gets to teach and give lectures and go on book tours doesn't make me want to give up the only outlet I have for garnering a little bit of notice for myself.

I'll tell a story about the Bread Loaf writer's conference, slightly different from the one Magnuson tells. I went to Bread Loaf in 2006, not as a fellow or a scholar or even a work-study waiter. I got in off the wait list and paid my way. I met a lot of wonderful people at the conference. I learned a hell of a lot. But I also got treated like rabble by some of the go-getting participants in the levels above me, and in general got the sense that the only reason I was there was because my money was paying for everyone else's scholarship. This feeling could have come from the fact that I have a chip on my shoulder--likely part of it did--or maybe I was just a sleep-deprived, paranoid wreck at Bread Loaf, which I probably was, too. But others on the bottom rung with me felt the same way and had even more outrageous stories to tell of being brushed aside by the conference's "upper classes," as it were.

And yet, and yet: I got to go to Bread Loaf. I know many, many people don't even get that far. I have a solid list of publications, a chapbook in print, and I've even taught creative writing at the graduate level, albeit as an adjunct in a small, up-and-coming program. So what right do I have walking around with a South-Dakota-sized chip on my shoulder? Maybe none. Maybe the real moral to all this is not that we as writers should love one another, as Magnuson says, but we as writers should all take a minute and be grateful for the successes and perks that do come our way. Because writing is life for the vast majority of us. Writing is identity. Writing is meaning. And for the VAST majority of us who work our asses off and get precious little in return, writing is the biggest tease, the biggest heart-breaker, on earth.

Anyway, read Magnuson's post and decide for yourself:
"This Problem of Taste"
http://www.massreview.org/blog/problem-taste
6:50 pm pst

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Dissertating away...
Not much has been going on in the past month besides dissertating, kid-raising, and hanging out with the hubby. We all have a cough that never seems to go away. I had a strange infatuation with sushi for the past couple of weeks--I think that's on the wane.

In terms of writing news, I got another poem accepted to Star*Line! Pretty psyched about that. It even happens to be about the common cold. Ah, I love how all these topics converge. Now if only I could get my sushi haiku published...
7:41 pm pst

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Coming soon: content...

Whence my freed Soul to her bright Sphere shall fly,
Through boundless Orbs, eternal Regions spy,
And like the Sun, be All one glorious Eye.
 
--Nahum Tate, King Lear

Jumping on the Internet bandwagon at last...