Winning the Sparks Prize

I can't fucking believe it. I won the sparks prize. i really did, i won it. i keep telling myself this over and over again cuz i don't really believe it. for those of you not at notre dame (i.e., the rest of the civilized world), the sparks prize is a competition open to 2nd year MFA students in notre dame's creative writing program and the winner gets 20k and has no comittments except one public reading of his bip (book-in-progress). it's the sweetest deal ever and i never thought i'd really win it cuz it's so unpredictable.

Unofficially, i'm planning on moving back to chicago, and coming down for some of the Lula readings, some of the guest fiction readings, and some of the football games. i most def. want to have a stronger presence on campus than the past 2 winners--no disrespect to them at all. and i think chicago is a perfect compromise: it's close enough for me to still be part of notre dame but far enough that i get breathe in urban culture, eat thai food more often, and--imagine this--possibly date again.

Perhaps even cooler than this prize, is just the love and encouragement from my fellow writers and friends. when coleen called me, i thought i was having an out-of-body experience. no, for real. i think i almost stepped out of my body i was so stoked. coleen's excitement was so touching, i almost started crying right there. and then when some of my peeps wrote me, and told me "jackson, you deserve this," god man, that moved me so much, that almost meant more than anything else. i mean, if they approve of the prize in any way, then i feel like, hey, maybe i do deserve this as much as anyone else.

Today is the literal antithesis of yesterday: yesterday, it was 73, i was wearing a t-shirt, and i found out the JET program rejected me. today, i was wearing my winter coat, it was 37 degrees, and i found out i won the sparks prize--the complete reciprocal image of yesterday in every possible way. wednesday has always been the day of change for me, a period of transition between energy fields. but i never expected it to work out THIS way. not in a million years. a humdulilah.


In the next couple of weeks, i'm gonna write up a daily schedule for the next year that includes some or all of these things:

yoga and meditation
exercise (e.g. biking and or jogging)
read 2 hours of fiction, non-fiction and poetry every day, both journals and books
write AT LEAST one piece of flash fiction each and every day
submit manuscripts every single week to journals, both online and print
research and attend at least 2 conferences (one of which, should be AWP)
find an agent if Lynn Nesbit doesn't bite
write for at least 4 hours everyday
try to publish 10 new stories in the next academic calender year

Well, that's just the beginning, but that's the basic idea. i'm totally gonna take this prize seriously and give it the honor and respect and hard work it deserves, otherwise, i don't deserve it.