Kristina Elyse Butke: Witness to “The Great Work”

We’ve been moving into our new house for the past four days, but I wanted to take a moment to share this. Kristina was my grad school critique partner and is a wonderful writer in her own right. She helped make Those of My Kind what it is. Kristina Elyse Butke: Witness to “The Great Work”.

Time Enough

I am counting the days until June 30. That’s the day I graduate from grad school with a shiny MFA and begin the rest of my life. It’s been a mostly enjoyable couple of years, and I’ve learned a lot, but this term is especially labor-intensive despite having finished my thesis (still needs edits). I’m ready to move on, both from the book and from school. I suppose I wouldn’t feel this way quite so much if the process hadn’t led to the unavoidable neglecting of so many other projects. Since completing my thesis, however, I’ve taken advantage of the opportunity to finish up a novella I began over 2 years ago, and to indulge in pleasure reading again.

But there is one thing I really, really miss and haven’t been able to fit back into my schedule yet. Art. You probably know by now that I have a BA in studio art. I draw, paint, photograph, collage… While I never pursued art as a career, it has always maintained an important role in my life. (And, since getting into the craftier side of things, I’ve become a junkie for Tim Holtz’s Idea-ology stuff.) I’m taking a leave of absence from work April 8 to May 6 in order to concentrate on my final project for school, but that will be the entire focus of my life during that time–as well as allow me to regain some of the sanity I’ve lost after spending 11 or more hours a day juggling school, writing, and my day job. In the interim between the end of class on May 6 and my final residency starting June 25 (with a 3-day jaunt to World Horror Con in between), however, getting back to art will be a major priority. I’ve got two collages-to-be sitting on my worktable already! And I want to get back into making music, which I started over 10 years ago. Maybe give my stuff a proper release on Bandcamp and probably for free.

I do have some good news–I’ve sold another short story. So, as of right now, I’ll have four stories out this year, three of them in anthologies. It’s pretty exciting, and since that leaves me with very few unsold stories left, I’m excited to get back to short fiction. I think short stories will always be my first love.

What about you? What are your passions, and how do you fit them into your life?

Updates!

One of the things I plan to do this year is update the blog more frequently. So here we go!

I’ve just begun my final semester of grad school. It’s a really strange feeling, after two years, to be so close to the end. However, I’m looking forward to a return of normalcy (such as it is) to my life, and to working on new projects. That said, getting my MFA has always been a big goal, and I’m proud of myself for finally achieving it. I’ve also met a ton of amazing people in the process, which is a reward in itself. And I get to hang out with some of those people at my first World Horror Con in June!

Writing projects… New article for HorrorNews should be up soon, with another on the way in the next couple of weeks. I’ve got at least two short stories coming out in the near future. One is the story I blogged about here. I did indeed take my own advice and go there. And sold it. The other is an Alice In Wonderland-inspired, slightly steampunk horror story set in a Victorian asylum. I realize the more genres you blend, the more difficult it becomes to market, but I’ve been really enjoying the exploration of cross-genres in my own work lately. Will it make my novels a hard sell, or will it help me cement my own brand? We shall see.

And on the novel front, my thesis is 8,000 words from completion (not including the edits I need to do). I can usually get in 1,000 words a day, so that’s only 8 more days of writing. Very exciting. Of course, I’ve still got to revise my synopsis and query letter, make a list of agents, and write a pitch. And as much as I want to start a new novel, I’m going to focus on getting the novelettes and novella finished first. One of the things that sucks about me is how many projects I start and then have to put on the back burner because I overextend myself. Once I graduate in June, that should become easier to manage.

In the near future, I may add some other fun stuff to this blog, like my artwork/photography and my musical exploits. Check back soon!

Insert Witty Title Here.

So, because I suck at keeping this blog current, I should mention that I recently appeared over at Mary DeSantis’ blog, Out of the Lockbox.

My thesis is due, in a way that resembles a completed novel enough for me to pass, in April, which despite my attempts to avoid it now demands my attention. I have a ton of work to do on it. Like add 19,000 words. That, of course, is competing with the demands of my teaching class. I do not love my teaching class. This is in no way a reflection on my teacher, who is wonderful, but on my piss-poor time management skills and 900 other commitments. I have an essay due a week from tomorrow and no idea where I’m going with that. BLAAAHHHH.

To maintain some semblance of sanity, I’ve been working on non-MFA projects as time permits. One is a short story for an asylum-themed anthology, and it’s a story I’ve been wanting to write for many years. The others are a ghost story novella heavily influenced by the Fatal Frame series, and a post-apocalyptic science fantasy novel inspired by Greek mythology and “Beauty and the Beast.” Still awaiting responses on four short stories, too.

And on that note, off to write a new chapter of my thesis.