January 13, 2014

The Writing Life: Marci Calabretta

Why did you take this course?

I am primarily a poet. I often feel that language is utilized in my field with all the power and usefulness of a frilly-finned goldfish. I should say that I took Literary Journalism because I was interested in how journalism impacted the literary world. I could also say that learning about various forms of writing improves my imagination on all sides, or that I wanted to become a powerful goldfish of language.

But the real reason is Lynne Barrett. Every once in a while, I discover a professor who dedicates herself to her students as enthusiastically and meticulously as she does to her own endeavors. Lynne Barrett is such a person. I felt that studying literary journalism with her would teach me to navigate the field more respectfully and attentively, but I really just wanted to take another class with her.

What did you hope to learn in this course?

I was particularly interested in building a platform for myself as a writer. In a world where so many people have an MFA and everyone is glued to the internet, visibility and diversity go a long way. A bit of direction in understanding how to present myself as such can go a long way.

What have you learned so far?

Lynne asked me several times throughout the semester how my author website was going, and has motivated me six ways from Sunday to actually create an online presence. I’m also inspired at what wild sprigs of ideas can be explored and planted under the umbrella of “literary journalism.” And people are interested. Look at http://www.brainpickings.org. Or http://paperandsalt.org, this amazing website that pairs authors with recipes. If you can think it, organize it, write it, you can probably find readers for it.

When did you begin blogging and why?

I’ve had everything from MySpace to Wordpress. You name it, I’ve tried my hand at it. Every time I started a blog, it petered off after a few tepid entries of useless personal information. I’ve never had great discipline with blogging. I would rather spend my time editing a journal or practicing archery than typing up a blog post that will probably crawl out of its internet grave in twenty years to haunt me.

However, when wielded attentively and devotedly, blogging can be a writer’s greatest asset. I think one valuable thing Lynne has taught me is consistency with taking on the internet literary community. If you say you’re going to post once per week, you’d better be true to your word. And then perhaps one right blog post shared on a whim can go viral and elevate you to fame. Isn’t that the luck of the draw? I’m not hoping for that. Some days, it’s a challenge to get anything down on paper at all.

What are the advantages of blogging? Disadvantages?

Time is definitely an issue for me. I foresee myself not so much exploring the advantages of blogging (or blundering through the disadvantages) as utilizing a website as a platform that requires minimal maintenance. I would imagine the entire internet community keeping me accountable to my own online presence. Everything about the web is a double-edged sword. Isn’t that why it’s called a “web” and a “net-work?” Sometimes you’re the fisherman, and sometimes you’re the fish.

Marci Calabretta is a Knight Fellow and poetry MFA candidate at Florida International University. Her work has appeared in American Letters & Commentary, The MacGuffin, and other journalsShe is Managing Editor of Print Oriented Bastards, Poetry Editor for Gulf Stream Literary Magazine, and a contributing editor for The Florida Book Review. Her chapbook, Last Train to the Midnight Market, was released from Finishing Line Press in 2013.

Twitter: @pobastards

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