Those 10,000 hours elude me

ClockBecause they aren’t just hours, right? They aren’t just putting the time in. They’re learning hours, growing hours. And how do you do that?

When Amazon.com sent me a promotion for a $2.99 Kindle copy of The Portable MFA in Creative Writing, I thought, “Why not?” (I read some of the reviews first.)

Do I think this book will give me an MFA education? Absolutely not.

Do I think it will teach me some new things, help me get in some more of those good hours? Yes.

After dutifully reading the introduction, I skipped ahead to the Poetry section. And on the same day that I finally got back to the gym (after more than a month), I started working out my poetry muscles in some new ways.

One review says, “it’s like Mary Oliver’s POETRY HANDBOOK meets THE ARTIST’S WAY,” and like The Artist’s Way, the lessons are broken up to weeks. This week has me writing 45 minutes a day but split into 15-minute increments at three different times a day. While I have the short attention span and even a 15-minute stretch is long for me, knowing that I need to make room for that three times a day is so far (after two days) working.

I’m also supposed to study the poems of a well-known poet whose work has previously intimidated me. That choice has been harder, because I’m less easily intimidated than I used to be. (I worried for years before I finally read Anne Carson’s Glass, Irony and God.) Now I figure I read it, I enjoy it, and I get what I get. But I decided to try either Barbara Guest or Marjorie Welish (because when she writes about her poetry, I feel utterly lost). I haven’t made a decision yet.

In the meantime, I’m reading the very wonderful Traveling with the Primates by Kathryn Rantala. And writing for 15 minutes three times a day.

How do you put in your hours? How do you fit in your writing?