Hi everyone,

My (forum) name is Lucas, and I'm a 24-year-old PhD student in literature who, lately, is questioning more and more his desire to finish a PhD program. I'll be entering year 3 of my program in the fall (out of 5 or 6, depending on how fast I finish), and the gulf between creative writing and academic literary "criticism" is proving to be wider than I hoped it to be.

I've been writing stories ever since I could write, although I guess I only knew for sure I wanted to be "a writer" in 9th or 10th grade. My goal is to write novels, although I've started a few--some realistic fiction, some more speculative/sci-fi--only to lose enthusiasm at the 30 or 40 page mark. My most recent novel attempt, a speculative fiction romance started at the beginning of this year, is my most promising one yet, I think, but I am putting the 40-45 pages I have away for a while to focus on writing a few short stories. I shared what I had in a graduate fiction writing workshop this spring, and feedback was mostly positive, but there were some consistent concerns about the narrator's voice that led me to think I should just rewrite everything at some point in the (hopefully near) future. A lot of my work, including the novel-in-interrupted-progress, focuses on animals and their potential to communicate their stories to us. I haven't published any of my short stories yet, mostly because I've found the rewriting process to be really daunting and exhausting. I'm definitely getting better at it, though, and I think joining a group like this forum will encourage me to have more discipline.

My reading tastes are very, very broad--too broad for me to enjoy writing a focused dissertation, I'm coming to suspect. I'm studying to take oral exams this fall, so I've been reading a lot of classics that I never got around to in high school or undergrad: for example, I just read Willa Cather's My Antonia and loved it. Older favorites of mine include modernists like Joyce, Woolf, Faulkner, Proust; Victorians like Hardy and the Brontes; and post-WWII/contemporary authors ranging from Salinger to McCarthy to Garcia-Marquez to Murakami to Foster Wallace to...I should probably wrap this up, I guess. Speculative fiction writers I enjoy include Le Guin, Dick, Butler.

I'm quite terrible at finding communities/networks to collaborate with in real life, so I hope this forum can give me some perspective on how my writing might fit into the massive and scary literary world...or something. Anyway, looking forward to meeting some cool and inspiring people.