So here’s the big announcement: Head Roam Transforms and is transforming, and yes, I am truly happy about it.
Maybe you, dear subscribers, have noticed something a bit off with email from this site. Nothing for months, then an email with a post from last spring, then another email promising “3 post from head roam,” then an email apologizing for my shaky command of plurals.
Maybe you deleted anything that came your way as more noise at this insane time of year. Maybe the emails didn’t even register on your holiday-themed radar.
Anyway, once again, Head Roam is in the process of an overhaul. Kind regular readers have pointed out some glitches, which I greatly appreciate; all should be running somewhat smoothly by mid-January.
Head Roam Transforms: Why?
I started Head Roam in a full-on attempt to have a bangin’ travel blog, one that got noticed and eventually was difficult to read due to the ads popping up all over it. Those ads would of course mean Money Money Money for Moi! I didn’t want the money so much as I just wanted the blog to feel like a real entity, which tends to mean it earns its keep. And that tends to mean that it does so through obnoxious advertising.
Sigh. I really wanted that. What was I thinking?
Truthfully, I recognized my own cognitive disconnect. Of course I didn’t, deep down, want ads popping up all over my site. Furthermore, all the technical stuff that has to be done in order to run a legit blog, things like SEO and compliance and social outreach and blah blah blah, are just not in my wheelhouse. I found myself exhausted at the prospect of maintaining things, having to drag myself to tackle it even a couple of times a week.
What I truly hated was that I no longer felt like a writer, but a manager of a company with next to no resources and little aptitude for running a business.
Know that I have great respect for bloggers who make it work, because this is Difficult with an intentional upper case D. There are bloggers who are excellent writers who can work with and embrace the demands of the form (Jessie Festa is an excellent travel blogger, and I revere her). I’ve just gotten to a point where it’s more important to me to say what I want to say than to rank high in Google search.
I mean, come on. I’m 61. All these stories from all this life: They’re not gonna write themselves…
Head Roam Transforms: The Beginning
Over the summer, I wrote a long-form essay. I wrote it for a contest. It’s a really good essay, and it didn’t win, and that’s fine because at some point I’ll find the right publisher for it.
Most importantly, it got me writing again. Not worrying about Optimum Scannability and other things that bloggers have to worry about regularly, but really writing about something I cared deeply about. I put my soul into it, and it felt good.
Essay complete, I realized I wanted to revisit and rewrite a memoir I wrote in my early 30s, with the perspective of three decades and a lot more writing experience than when I was young and green and talented but way too inexperienced to really write the story I needed to tell.
I wanted and knew I needed support. But when I’ve tried writing groups before, I get either a great deal of flattery or full-on bewilderment. Neither is useful.
Head Roam Transforms: Next Steps
Then I thought, low-residency MFA program. I’d been intrigued by the idea for a while: the structure—you go to a campus for 10-14 days twice a year then do assignments electronically—the peer group, the chance to work with working writers, and a semiannual chance to drink through a literary firehouse and not do anything else. I decided to apply to a few.
I identified three programs. Two had a deadline of September 1st, and I started the application on August 21st. The third had a rolling deadline, and I decided to do it when I finished the others. I enlisted colleagues who happened to be friends for my letters of recommendation, tracked down my ancient transcripts, and got to work.
As my 20-page writing sample, I sent the essay I’d written over the summer. I also had to come up with essays based on topics from the programs. I got everything posted on September 1st after a 10-day flurry, then thought, what the hell am I thinking? They’re going to say, who is this old broad. I resolved not to think about it until September 15th at the earliest.
September 5th was Labor Day. I got an email from Randolph College, my 2nd choice, requesting an interview. Wow, that was quick.
September 6th, I was driving and got a call from a number I didn’t recognize. I’d been accepted with a scholarship to my first choice.
Over the moon, I contacted Randolph. “I’ll do the interview, but I’ve been accepted by this other school, and I’m pretty sure I’m going there,” I wrote.
Now on my regular non-Head Roam email, I have my picture with Alex Trebek as my little ID photo. The head of Randolph’s department wrote back:
The Category: MFA Creative Writing Programs
The Answer: [first choice school here]
The Question: What is the second best MFA Program that has accepted Nan Bauer?
At the beginning of the year, I’m heading to Randolph.
And it what will come as absolutely no surprise, Steve has been completely and wonderfully supportive as always. I love that guy.
Head Roam Transforms: From Half-assed Travel Blog to Regular Old School Blog About What I’m Doing
I cleared with the department that I could record my adventures here, with the intent to give folks who’d like a glimpse of any of the following:
- Life in an MFA low-residency program
- Going to college at the possibly overripe age of 60+
- The often strange places my head roams to
- Book reviews, because I’ll be reading A LOT; read my first review of Doireann Ni Gríofa’s A Ghost in the Throat
At the moment, I’m feverishly reading and calmly packing (I’m good at packing) to head off to my first 10-day residency in Lynchburg, VA.
As always, you can drop me a line ([email protected]) or make a comment; I love to hear from you.
Happy 2023, everyone. May yours have plenty of joy, thrills, and beauty.