Because I’m shipping my stuff through the post office instead of hiring movers, I’ve been trying to winnow my belongings as much as possible, especially heavy things like papers. I’ve throwing out a stack of paper literally two feet high, and I still have twice as many papers as I came with!
Some of the stuff I threw out was old bills, or multiple critiques of stories that I’ve condensed down to one master copy for easier revision. But I also threw out a huge stack of articles offering advice on writing, articles I was struggling to understand when I came here (and brought along because I thought I’d need them), that now seem both way below my skill level and in some cases painfully misguided.
What’s really shocking to me is that these articles are almost entirely on plot and conflict, topics that are almost taboo in the MFA world, and yet I seem to have learned a ton on the subject while I was here. I know a lot more now about internal and external conflict, how to keep a story moving, and how to pick problems for the characters that match the tone I want for the story. I’m not saying I know it all, not by a long shot, and I’m still working on putting it all into practice, but I have a way better sense of what I’m aiming for than when I came here.