I just vant to be alone

While I was working on my MFA I had to share feedback with fellow students and mentors. That is, of course, a huge part of the program. I generally feel ambivalent about it. When I feel people haven’t understood what I meant I struggle to slow myself down and listen carefully to their comments. It ranges from difficult to exhausting. […]

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That’s Master of Fine Arts to you bro!

After three years and much self-doubt, procrastination and shaky focus, on August 2 I finally earned my MFA in creative nonfiction from Goucher College. My perspective on the program shifted throughout those years, which included two semesters leave when I started working at CAIR, but in the end I cranked out just enough pages to graduate (the requirement is 150; my thesis was 151) and now I have some pretty good material to polish and publish. I don’t know if it will ever become a book. My brain is resting today and tomorrow I go back to my new full-time job of freelancing. The great news is that last week I got my first gig. I’ll be writing a biweekly column on civil rights for MuslimMatters. More about that when it is official.

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One of these days

Eventually I will return to being a writer.  This time I won’t be a depressed and mopey cookie-eater.  I have to make it my career, or if not a career – what’s one step down from a career? Like a vocation?  Or is it not a career if you don’t make much money doing it?  Whatever I do I have to do it with purpose and gusto and planning. One of these days it’s going to happen – and soon.

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Mental health and the MFA

I read with interest this piece by Sara Finnerty on Brevity’s Nonfiction Blog. It’s a list of things she wishes she had told herself after her completing her MFA. I would argue that they are things one should address during the MFA. She writes about failure, about abandoning the goal of getting published and fear of others’ opinions. I think […]

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A bird with a stunted wing

I’ve been at my new job full-time for a little over a month now, and my internal monologue has become more strident and provocative.  I have been confused at times, frustrated at times, often realizing that I was more accustomed to making decisions independently than I thought. When I ran my bookstore, I conceptualized, evaluated, decided and executed nearly everything myself.  Now I bristle at direction and also at the lack of it.  I am confused about what I do and what I should do.  I have my instincts and sometimes I follow them but most of the time I leave myself open to multiple instructions and opinions and I end up frozen in place, not knowing what to do next, feeling fundamentally unable to perform as I should. Then the internal voice starts criticizing me, insinuating that my ineptitude at work reflects a bigger, broader inability to function in any setting.  I think about all the things I have failed to complete or have screwed up, not just at work, not just since I moved to Houston a decade ago, but always.  I opened the door to professional failure by leaving Kessler for journalism school. I am fundamentally flawed, like a bird born without one wing, or with one stunted wing that keeps him unbalanced, spinning, doomed to never leave the ground and fly, jealous of the other birds in the air. I’ve taken a leave of absence from […]

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