Shortly before I left for Taiwan, I was having ramen with Marcus, and he asked how the MFA was going. It was a somewhat rushed meeting in a trendy ramen shop, since I was leaving for Taiwan the next day and Marcus has work on his third (THIRD!) book, all of which would deeply impress our twenty-something selves. But anyway, the MFA.
It’s hard. I usually consider myself a pretty productive writer. I’ve been blogging since 2005, and I published my first game essay in 2006. (That magazine is now defunct, but I’m pretty sure that wasn’t my fault.) I usually have work going on for game clients, other work for editors, personal creative pieces, blogging here, and my endless private journals. But I don’t produce nearly as much as my classmates. The quality of what I do write is average at best. This isn’t one of those false-modesty things, it’s a legit comparison to my classmates’ work.
And it’s that’s hard too, because I can’t work out how to look at bad grades or bad responses in workshops without falling into the pit of how I’m actually a terrible writer, I’m going to fail everything, and any success up until now has just been a fluke. Washing out of the program is a reasonable fear, and I can’t work out how to accept that some people in my classes are not going to make it without deciding that I’m going to be one of them, because I’m actually a terrible writer, I’m going to fail everything, and even getting accepted in the first place was a mistake.
This is also the same conversation when The Interestings came up, and Marcus said he thought Jules was kind of mean. I felt like I’d left my diary open, since I empathise so deeply with Jules, and when I read this book, I basically pictured young Ethan as a twenty-something Marcus. I guess this novel meant so much to me that I kind of own it, and I forgot that other people can read books too.
“Shut up!” I said, “It’s not her fault! Jules is just talented enough to know she’s not as talented as her friends. Everything is really hard for Jules.” So there’s that.