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Transformational Writing

I’m in my second week of my UCLAx course in Transformational Writing. My first submission was due on Tuesday and it was agonizing to get through. The nature of the writing in this course is using writing as a way of healing - treating traumatic issues in detail, being specific about certain events and how they made us feel; connecting those two things is paramount in this type of writing. 

My first submission was about the first time I saw a psychiatrist. I had a hard time thinking about how to be specific, at least in terms of sensory description. In that state, back in 2007, I existed in a fog so it was really difficult for me to remember certain details. 

I am thinking about writing from more of my present struggles, as they are happening and seeing how effectively I could do that, since I can kind of access those memories more easily, and they aren’t processed as much. That’s something I want to play with, but I can bet I will find some trigger points when I come across subject matters that make me shut down. Namely, immigration, which is largely what I’d like to tackle anyway. 

In my free write, I think I came to the conclusion that if I were to pursue an MFA, it would be me using the resources I had - my creativity and financial support from my family - to achieve my goals. If I were a different person, I would have different resources to work with, like perhaps more mental stability and professional drive, which might lead me more down a path in an office or some sort of employment that would get me sponsorship. It was hard for me to accept this before, because I felt the guilt of being a financial burden on my family and I was down on myself about not being able to get my shit together enough to pursue work, but I need to move past that. Also, the work that I do want to do is more creative writing in nature, so I think taking this time while I have it to re-organize my brain and focus on a lifestyle change that I can devote to writing might be good for me. I should be happy to be so fortunate that my mom and aunt are giving me this opportunity - just the way I might feel happy if I had greater mental stability to tackle an office job. 

It’s time for me to stop beating myself up about what I don’t have and make the most of what I do have, and for now that is time and family support. And with it, I will write. 

Excerpt from today’s journal entry pertaining to writing

…i’m also planning to celebrate canada day with jolene tonight. it appears that her apt has a volleyball court and fire pit because she mentioned something about playing volleyball and making smores. i also have the motive to use this as a therapeutic session to chat with her and others about our visa situations and what we’re doing to make it in america. i hope that will give me some perspective and hope. i also hope i don’t get distracted from my creative writing dream.

i’m meeting with suzanne tomorrow at annenberg for some guidance about how i can stay afloat until i get a green card. since i emailed her a couple of weeks ago to set the appointment, i have been resolute on pursuing the antioch mfa. even when i was talking to erin about moneymaking career paths i could take that might satisfy my creative hunger, i was still set. i hope that my meeting tomorrow will also give me some perspective and hope without distracting me, the way i have been distracted these past few summers.

i start my creative writing course next week, so i think that should keep me on track too. i need to focus on that, rather than perhaps taking a copywriting workshop. 

before i see suzanne, i have the 826 ell camp training. if i get good vibes from it, i think i can commit myself to volunteering everyday throughout july. i think that is something that will keep me in the creative writing mindset and also focus on how it can be used to serve the community, and perhaps give me even more fodder for my antioch application. i know i have always been strategic about these things as long as i maintain focus, and since my focus was so diffuse when i was on the antidepressant trial i’ve been out of practice, but i think the more i push myself, i can make this happen.

bernadette from antioch gave me a reading list of work that was completed while in the program. i’m glad to have started a dialogue with her, she’s been readily available each time i’ve reached out to her. that in and of itself is a positive sign about the support i’d receive in that program.

i’m sitting on this patch of grass that was once in the shade, but is not so much anymore since the earth rotated a few degrees. i don’t know whether or not to sit here and wait till it rotates a bit more, or follow in its path and move my blanket to where the shade went. it’s pretty fucking annoying as it is beautiful to type with the sun in your eyes. 

i decided to shift back into a pocket of shade that i hope is protected from the earth’s rotation. 

i read one of the memoir essays from the list that bernadette sent to me. it was about an la teacher and his plight to feed students with knowledge much like the lunchero was feeding them with affordable, nutritious food. i’m trying to pace myself through reading from the list bernadette sent because i want to process learning/writing points from each of them.

i also started reading just kids for the cocktail philosophers book club. i am so glad that i am not only able to feel but also think critically about the use of language and poetic devices because patti smith’s memoir is rife with them. i’m only one chapter in, but i’ve highlighted many phrases and techniques and jotted a couple of notes in the digital margins of my kindle copy. i’m torn between pacing myself and binge reading it. it’s a fairly quick read so i think i can accomplish a combo of both. one or two chapters today, one or two tomorrow. one or two the next. 

i’m looking forward to this writing course because, although i’m conscious of the techniques being used and what they accomplish, i have yet to thoughtfully synthesize how i can creatively apply them to my own work. 

i did a free write last night followed by a rework to the introduction of one of the short stories i conceptualized and made some progress but also found myself stuck before i freed myself from that process to go on a walk with lani. getting stuck in general has always been crippling to me, and plunged me into several depressions. the fear of getting stuck creatively has preempted so many of my attempts to seriously pursue a creative writing practice, but now i am committed to facing that fear and seeking ways to either avoid that creative stuckness or ways to work through them and not getting discouraged so easily….

Don’t call it a comeback

I’m focusing on writing again. 

Goddamn, I had to scroll down a bit to see where I left off. 

When I was actively posting, things were still fresh and I had a new lease on my pursuit of a writing career. I don’t think I was entirely clear on what I wanted out of a writing career, I just knew I wanted to be writing.

I composed a few letters that were shared privately with the recipient, detailing how I hadn’t been able to write because I lost my feelings. I had revisited a past relationship that was left hanging in the balance so I could mix metaphors and tie loose ends. Once I saw that this time was not the right time for us—that no time would be right for us—the loose ends were tied into knots in my stomach. Plagued by numbness, I had no emotion propelling my need to write. What did I have to express?

In an emotional sense, the relationship took me away from writing. In an intellectual sense, it pushed me to write on other things, namely my academic goals. Once again, in pursuit of another career path, I forewent writing and spent my time writing an application for school. Not an MFA program, but a PhD program that would combine research from a traditional PhD with the creative practice of an MFA. I thought it would be the perfect way to combine my academic aptitude with my creative curiosities. While the relationship zapped me of my feelings, my lover sparked this new drive to put all I have to offer towards achieving this goal. And it was a lofty goal as they only accepted 4 people per cohort. With that stiff competition, I threw all my wordplay into crafting the best application I could. I’ll share in another post.

Unfortunately, I was not one of the 4 people selected, but that was kind of to be expected. The initial plan was to reapply this year, but now I’m not sure I want to do that. I would have to take GRE prep and the test again, first of all. And now that I take a step back, I’m not sure if it would land me a job in LA after all. So, I’m waiting to hear back from my Annenberg career counsellor to determine what I should do about that.

While I was waiting for my results, I was kind of floating around. I revisited some bad habits that had me spiraling and losing my sense of self that I had no foundation of me to write from. Even when I was traveling (something that has always incited me to write because of all the new experiences), I was too paralyzed, trapped in my own head to conjure anything meaningful from these foreign locales. I was also on a dosage of medication that, if it wasn’t making me anxious, was making me numb. Again, not a place to be writing from. It fucking sucked. I lost my voice.

A few weeks ago, I got off this dosage of meds and my thoughts have been whizzing back with a new clarity. Actually, an old clarity - I need to be writing again. 

So here I am, brushing of the digital dust from this tumblr in efforts to reestablish my writing practice. I am also enrolled in a writing workshop at UCLA extension that starts in a couple of weeks. The end goal is to apply to the Antioch MFA. It will cost me many many dollars, but with my green card 2-3 years away, it will buy me that last bit of time that I need. 

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