Friday, May 24, 2013

The Bureau

It's time I explain myself.

I'll be honest, I am less than appreciative half the time. In fact, I tend to be daring enough to despise just about everything naturally before I really give it a chance. While there are many examples, one of them is college.

I came to Ball State because as one of the two colleges I applied to, they were the ones that accepted me (after numerous letters of pleading on my part) and they were not an art school (Columbia College of Chicago) and I was not to be going to art school, as I needed a real career, and at a cheaper price than that.

Along with this, Muncie is within an hour's drive of Fort Wayne, and due to a number of personal dramatics, (high school is such a fun time) I stuck around with Ball State, despite despising it my first year.

I was lucky enough to have my childhood friend Dan there, as well as my roommate for the first semester Luke. However for the first two years at BSU I wouldn't even say I really went there, as I would drive home nearly every weekend. And that's the thing, you really can't live anywhere new if you keep going "home".

My junior year was quite a bit better. I had a house with all my friends and somehow we managed to cobble together a homely feeling, one that I found I would miss when I was in my old home in Fort Wayne. And though I had my own things to deal with my first semester (discovering the various crutches, weaknesses, and the great nullifier alcohol) I finished the second semester off very strongly, mostly because I had actually decided to live and go to college, and do what I could to make where I was a home.

One of the most important aspects of this home was a degree of understanding,  a degree of sharing the whole Creative Writing major thing with other people. That was one of my chief concerns when I got to college - I expected everyone to have grown up from high school into motivated, educated, upstanding scholars who were concerned with their studies and had fascinating conversations about profundity. This was not the case, obviously and it took me a while before I found theses scholars I was searching for.

At the time I had only found one "scholar" a peer who shared the same degrees of frustrations about the world, the english department, the english language, along with agreeing with me on the finer varieties of cheese. And this was Miss Becca Jackson. We met in a poetry class and spent many of our days with frustrated talks over lunches in her house about our classes and things we saw, you know, all that writer stuff.

And this was rather exciting, because for the first time I had a writer friend.

Over time Becca and I met more scholars, more writer friends, and although we were all on nodding terms with each other - or defending each other's drafts in misunderstood workshops - there was still a degree of separation from us as writers and friends. This was all until the first Bureau meeting in Brent Holden's basement.

Brent was holding a small get together of a bunch of these scholars to read poetry and drink in his basement, which if I recall was organized by Erica, and that was as far as the evening's plans were. Naturally, as the only other avenue for anything like this (reading aloud to other writers) was through Writer's Community - the BSU sponsored outlet for literary merit, we were all pretty eager to indulge in this tender night of literature and getting to know people.

And as you may have expected, a bunch of writers getting together ended up with more than one of us drunk. Most of us, actually. And during my particular drunken bout, I declared that we should keep doing this, that this is what we needed. The later phrasing we used was "supplementing a deficiency", in that currently, despite being in three different workshop classes at the same time, I did not feel challenged enough. I was a member of Writer's Community, I participated in the Gala Contest, but that to me still was not enough. I believed that the most successful writers came from a community - and that in order to get anywhere in Muncie we had to be the ones to create that degree of cultivation.

Thus, The Bureau was born. We decided on bi-weekly meetings where during one of them we'd simply do a "quiet" workshop, where drafts would be passed around, marked up, and discussed. The other meeting would then be us reading our work aloud and drinking, workshopping the performance aspect of the drafts. Through these meetings my writing scholars  had become friends and then Bureaucrats where now, with a good number of us and through only the fantastic networking only available from one of our members Camille, we have monthly readings at a local bar and a fair degree of an online presence.

The most important thing about growing up (or surviving, maintaining sanity, etc.) is supplementing yourself when there is a deficiency. If something does not exist and you're yearning for it, chances are other are as well, and we cannot always depend on the actions of someone else to establish the delicious meal many of us are craving.

The Bureau is an open group of writers determined to cultivate each other's work and in turn cultivate the town of Muncie with a degree of enthusiasm in literature that hopefully will entice further development in the actual reading and writing of original, local work. We have a facebook fan page that one can follow for updates on our readings, as well as a closed group that you may request to join. Along with this, we have a forum online where we may continue to critique each other's work throughout the summer.

The Bureau links:

Fan Page:

I have some fantastic friends, you should read their things:

Becca Jackson: I've been mulling over a clever way to describe her while still complimenting, but I cannot. Becca is a mathematician and writer, and comes up with the best metaphors this side of the white river. Read her blog here:

Camille Germain: Is actually a cat trapped in a person's body. But she knows everyone and writes the most horrifyingly honest work I've read. Read her blog here:

Brent Holden: Has a few cats that are adorable, and a wonderful basement that I nearly died in. He's a gem. Read his blog here:

Travis Campbell: Travis is relatively new to me, but he has some fantastic poetry about metaphors, and he updates very often. Read his blog here:

Marvin Madison Jones: I was lucky enough to have Marvin in a fiction class that I also shared with Brent, that was one of the best workshops I've ever been in. Read his blog here:

Erica writes a blog about being a mother, and she's the snarkiest person I've ever met, so that makes it even more entertaining while still instructing people like me on things I never would have thought about. Read her blog here:


  1. I'm honored by the shout-out, friend. :)

    Looking forward to future posts; cheers to the coming year of new friends and new frustrations.

  2. Ohai. Now I feel obligated to post Real Literature...