MFA Thesis Diary #2

I spent a large portion of last semester trying to think of a hip concept for my manuscript. I wasn’t trying to be gimmicky, or thinking about how to “sell” my project. Rather, I thought a clear concept would provide me with a clear vision & keep me motivated. It’s worked in the past but I quickly started to realize, it wasn’t going to work this time.

The moment I figured out what I thought I was writing about, I would have a mental block. Sure, I could come up with a fancy concept, but I couldn’t write the poems. And wasn’t it supposed to be about the poems in the first place? I ended up changing my “concept” every other week. I was frustrated & unhappy with a lot of the poems I was producing. Some of the poems were viable, but they didn’t connect or inspire me to write the next poem or the next..

At the beginning of the summer, a good friend told me that I needed to stop worrying about the “concept” and just write. Essentially, he explained that I was too young to be putting myself in a box like that. It was simple guidance, but exactly what I’ve needed to hear. So..

Instead of focusing on the concept, I’m simply trying to write poems that speak to one another. The poems relate in different ways: imagery, mood, subject matter, persona. Sometimes the connections are more explicit than others, but the connection is genuine & organic. Ultimately, my goal is for all of the poems to function as lens into one other.

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4 responses to “MFA Thesis Diary #2

  1. I do that all the time, on a smaller scale, with individual stories. It’s such a natural impulse. I keep catching myself thinking, “This story is going to be about THIS.” Nothing happens. Then (eventually) I catch myself, remember to just let the writing be what it’s going to be. I like the way you put it: genuine and organic. It’s weird and wonderful how things can come together when you don’t try to force it.

  2. Today, it occurred to me that poems (and stories), like everything else in our lives, are part of the law of Cause & Effect. The best way to write, for me, is to simply make causes: reading & researching curiously, taking note of things that happen each day, and just living. The poems, then, are the effects of those causes.

  3. Saeed,
    Thanks for these updates on your thesis. It’s a real help for an aspiring author (read: me) who is also trying to make the magic happen.

    Word,
    Oscar

  4. I love this approach and your idea of cause & effect as well. I’m glad to have encountered this advice before my program even starts in the fall. Thanks for sharing here!

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