25 October 2005
Tonight was when I realized that I may have my priorities on backwards.
I've been a grad student now for a little less than two months. I am taking three classes, nine total credit hours. If I did that as an undergrad, it would have been a cakewalk. When I was talking to my advisor before registering for this semester, I mentioned that I thought I could handle twelve hours.
She begged me not to. When I asked why, she just said that I should take three classes to begin with, and if I felt I should have gone with four, to do so in the spring.
Verdict? I'm taking three classes next semester. If I had registered for four classes this term, I'd be taking three right now. I under estimated the amount of work each class would require. I am not complaining.
Monday night I have a fiction workshop. I have to read stories by the other people in my class and prepare comments on them, and work on my own submissions. By the time the semester is done, I will have submitted about 75 pages to the class. Given the process of writing and revising, 75 final pages is really more like 200, because things wind up being redone over and over. Wednesday night I have a production class for the university's literary journal, which, while extremely interesting, has been a time killer too. First, we had to handle the reams of submissions that we received during the three month window we were calling for entries. It's a small journal. However, the number of submissions were huge. The ten of us working in this were happy and relieved when we finished reading everything and made our selections.
And then the actual production began. And continues. It's a ton of work. Again, no complaints.
My degree requires that I take at least three literary classes, and this is where the joy of being a graduate student comes in. The pickings in the schedule of courses for fall were slim, and I wound up enrolling in a course on Irish Women's literature, emphasizing "the politics of gender." I love Ireland. I've been there many times, and I have read many works from authors there. I thought I caught a break here, and that I would have some type of advantage in taking this class.
Write, write, and write some more. Then write more. Uh huh, now write more. Every Monday night I am up late, trying to find the right choice of words that will accurately portray my understanding of what we will be discussing in class Tuesday afternoon. I just finished tomorrow's assignment, and this is easily the earliest I have finished since the semester began. It is not for lack of effort that I am usually toiling late into the dark. I've been ahead of myself in terms of reading, which has not been that much of a challenge, to be honest.
But the writing? Yeah, I think I have to write some more.
This class requires a research essay as its final project. The essay has to be 25-35 pages. I should have started it in 1975, because I see the December 13 deadline and wonder how exactly I am going to complete this properly.
Anyway, as I was writing tonight about how women in Northern Ireland have a history of being defined by men (please, it's not my opinion, it's what is in the writing), I found myself unable to concentrate at times, because I was letting my creative part of my mind wander over here and think about what I should be including in this blog. This happens more and more, especially at times when it would be best if my mind just shut down and stayed on course, or when I am trying to fall asleep.
This blog has no deadlines. But without this blog, I wouldn't be in the place that I am now, setting a course for making a career out of my writing. This blog gave me the confidence to realize that what has always been my hobby should instead become my livelihood.
So I worry about it from time to time, that I am not paying enough attention to it. It's what I would think a parent would feel towards their oldest child when other ones come along.
At some point, I have to write a book length thesis if I wish to complete my MFA. That no longer seems like such a huge challenge anymore. I am sure that once I set my mind to it, I will do it, and do it well. And when I do, this little part of my world will deserve as much credit for it as any level of instruction I could ever receive.
This blog will always be my first born.