Slog the bog

Electric bass fishing

The artwork is just an old piece I did about four or five years ago, “Electric bass fishing.”

I spent the morning sending off latest drafts of my writing sample to my recommenders, then taking a look at my list of schools and seeing if I can’t whittle it down further. I want to have a final list by the end of the week. There are so many intangibles that require heavy digging. Tomorrow I’ll go to library and then bookstore to research faculty publications. It’s true that teaching style has little to do with writing style, but so few programs offer faculty pedagogical statements online, so I’m left with a Ouija board and divining rod, plus some rankings and stats on funding and selectivity.

It’s going to be a hairy month. First apps are due December 1. I have one story pretty near finished, and another that still needs work. I need to dust off last year’s Statements of Purpose (SOPs) and Personal Statements and see if I can’t layer in another year’s worth of wisdom. Such as it is.

On the plus side, I think “City of Destiny” is quite good, and “Baby in a Hole” — well, it’s not quite there yet, but when it’s finished it has the potential to be electrifying.

I just reread a story by George Saunders—his first published work, actually, and the one that got him into Syracuse as a young grad student, hand-picked by Tobias Wolff—called “A Lack of Order in the Floating Object Room.” Just goes to show that a story doesn’t need to have a beginning, middle, or end, or even a real plot trajectory. But it seems to require an emotional trajectory, at least if it’s to have any impact. Just need to avoid the urge to explain too much. I’m not saying “Baby” is total George Saunders. But it could be worthy of him. Boy can he make language crackle.

This will be a short post today. No apologies. I’m off to the gym. Then dinner (saffron rice and fresh Hawaiian marlin cutlets from Thriftway), then back this evening to peck away at this list of schools. Twenty-two on the list currently, need to get that down to about eighteen. But it’s not as easy as crossing four off; I may cross off six and find two others to add back in. Who the hell knows. Where’s my divining rod?

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