Anne Bean

I make delicious words. // I make words delicious.

Tag: mfa

Mastering the Fine Arts

This post comes a day late because I’ve been a bit distracted by getting my Master of Fine Arts in Writing at Goddard College. (“You will never truly master your art, no matter what your diploma says,” they warn me.)

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After Mike’s grandma’s 100th, we went to New York for a few days (which was An Experience, and a separate blog post), then up to Vermont for my graduation. Saturday I did a ten minute reading as part of my graduation. Sunday was the graduation ceremony. I spent yesterday flying with some excitingly tight connections (sprinting across the entire Detroit airport, getting there right before they closed the door type thing). There was a lot of emotion and a lot to process, and I was almost afraid to start writing about it out because I wasn’t sure what might emerge.

First off, Goddard. For two years, I would fly across the country to Vermont once a semester, and spend a week at the campus. I’d be matched up with an advisor and and an advisory group of fellow students. I’d attend readings, workshops, and on the first Sunday of every residency, I’d watch a crop of students graduate.

So for starters, it was a bit surreal that it was now my turn. It was and it wasn’t. Since I quit my job in February, I’ve been doing more or less what I want to do: freelance design, submitting creative work, writing. I’m reaching the bit where my work must accelerate in pay or else I need a day job for the bills, but that’s all right. I’m fine with where I am. Somehow after graduation, though, it all feels a bit new. The first day of the rest of your art, as our commencement speaker, the politically-charged poet Jan Clausen called it. Perhaps that is the window through which I view my life: how much art I can make out of myself.

Goddard graduations are odd affairs. For one, there is no cap and gown, and we are not given any Silly Hats of Academia or Hoods of Pomp & Circumstance. It’s in a former hay barn, now the Haybarn Theater. There are horses across the street. There are plastic chairs and a wooden floor. And a podium, where each member of the graduating class gives a speech, or “becomes their own valedictorian” as MC and poet Elena Georgiou puts it. (Her advice to us, said in her soft British accent, was “three minutes or less, and try to avoid words like ‘fucking’ and ‘masturbation.’ She managed to keep a straight face while saying it, but then cracked up along with us. “The fact that I even have to warn you about that…”)

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When my turn came, I went up to the podium with a pack of Vertigo Tarot cards, which for which Rachel Pollack wrote the book. They’re cards about comics. Seemed appropriate. And so here is my graduation speech:

(Hold up card: The Fool)

The major arcana of the Tarot traces the archetypal journey of a fool, which in this case was me, two years ago, flying across the country to a little school in Vermont, not really knowing what to expect or exactly what I wanted to write.

(next card: The Magician)
I quickly met my personal Magician, Susan Kim, who told me that writing was like being chained together running through the snow pursued by wolves. This was heartening. Susan reminded us how important creative community was, not to mention breaking down dramatic structure into manageable, alchemical pieces.
(next card: High Priestess)
Soon enough I met my next mentor, Rachel Pollack, who was my High Priestess–transcendant in ideas, she helped me preserve the mystery of my work. From global myth to really bad puns, working with Rachel was magic. For the record, Rachel says that whenever someone asks what you’re doing with your MFA, just tell them that when you graduate, you get a ring that raises the dead.
(next card: Empress)
I could not have made this journey without all of my Empresses, those who supported me and held me through this long strange trip. The people who cared for me at residency: gave me food, shoveled the sidewalks, provided me with yoga mats and help networking my computer. My fellow students, in residency, on the Internet, and in Seattle. (what’s up Shae and Cody!) My awesome partner, Mike, who supported me in every step of this journey and totally put up with me when I was at my whiniest. My parents, who have always been supportive of both my writing and my education, meaning that I did not spend my time here writing a memoir. Everyone in this room. Many who are not.
(next card: Emperor)
As I move into the cold, regimented, Emperor world of publishing, I just have one thing to say:
Thank you.
One final thank-you that I didn’t speak in Vermont: Thanks to my writing group and blog pact buddies: Clara, Alexandria, Morgan, Laura, Kellen, and new blogbuddy Brendan, among others. They have all helped me to get through these past two years. Thank you. (Especially because y’all get to do an extra blog post this week ’cause I was late…sorry!)
Okay I lied about “final” thank-you; I am never done saying thanks to this world. But specifically, thank you to Jennifer H. for the pictures. 🙂

Holy Content, Batman!

Ballard, WA. Thursday. 10:30PM.

Dear Internet,

Major life news of the past unholy amount of time since I’ve updated:

 

College!

I am attending Goddard College, pursuing an MFA in writing. I am writing short stories, plus comic scripts. Comic scripts are both interesting and frustrating to write. For one thing, I am unsure of how much panel designation to write out and how much to leave to the artist. It’s something I’ll end up developing as a work with artists, I expect.

Speaking of, I’m working with this awesome dude to make a minicomic. I will report more later, and it will be awesome.

As a super-rad bonus, my prose short story “Iron Henry” will be appearing in this Spring’s Pitkin Review. You can pick up a copy of my and other rad writings from Goddard for a mere $12.

 

Podcast!

Trade Secrets is the podcast I contribute to! Hear me and some other geeks natter on about comics. It’s like Oprah’s book club, but for comics, and with a lot more dumb jokes.

If you’re not sure where to start, here are a couple of my favorites:

Ep. 3: Locke and Key by Joe Hill

Ep. 4: The Unwritten by Mike Carey

Ep. 19: Invincible by Robert Kirkman

Ep. 20: Adolf by Osamu Tezuka

 

That’s all for now! Stay tuned for actual updates. For reals.

Love,

Anne

Wordstock!

I roadtripped down to Portland last weekend to attend the Wordstock festival, a gleeful gathering of authors, small presses, and literary folk. I got to also reconnect with some college friends, which was great. It turns out that what we all did with our early twenties involved wandering and writing novels.

The conference was a good time: I saw Aimee Bender read from her new novel (delicious prose that makes me catch my breath). I chatted up two of the MFAs I’m looking at, Pacific University and Goddard College. I got to see a range of local publishing houses and their products. I gave a copy of Freedomland to a young adult press. (It could be young adult-ish? Yes?)

There were some roving editors in the conference, as well, and I snagged a session with the sci-fi editor from Indigo Editing to dicuss The November Girls. It was really useful; I asked her about some of the structuring issues I’d been having and got a really useful structure to try out. At the moment, my main structuring tool is a bunch of excitingly colored post-its on the basement wall, which I believe comes from a long tradition of writers and conspiracy theorists. She also talked about “Jaws of Life” characters; in the same way that the Jaws of Life are a tool that does a job no other tool can do, certain characters do things that can do what no other character can do. In my case, it’s the elusive Robin.

Also! I signed up for a sweet new site that’s a little bit like literary twitter. It’s called Typetrigger. Every six hours, they spit out a word or phrase to write about for up to 300 words. Their motto: “Not highbrow. Not lowbrow. Just moustache.” Right now it’s invitation only, so five lucky commenters who ask for one could totally get an invite. Holler!

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