All posts tagged: am writing

Taking my voice back

Image: Antonio Bovino My first week of classes feels so long ago, I wonder if it ever happened. But the chilly autumn wind and rushing leaves confirm time has come to pass. Yet I am still the same as I was. I guess I thought being here would change me – that somehow, a truth would reveal itself and alter my entire way of thinking. I thought being in an MFA program would switch on a lightbulb in my head – that I’d suddenly have all the answers. Truth is, being here has just provided me with better guides. Throughout the application process, I felt like I was losing myself and my voice. Somewhere along the line, my submission piece stopped being my story, and just became a story. Before I came to Stony Brook Southampton, I went to work, ate dinner with my family, saw my boyfriend. Many nights, I’d lay in bed thinking, “Is this all there is? Will it be this way forever?” I still have many of the same worries today …

First Month in Review

Image: Heipei In the Pacific Northwest, we do things little differently. Instead of the semester system that I am used to, we work under the quarter system. We have the year cut into three sections: Fall- Oct-Dec, Winter- Jan-March, and Spring- Apr-June. I am over half way through my first quarter in my MFA. Time is flying, and homework is piling up around me. The quarter system is a bit unforgiving when it comes to homework. I am taking two classes- Nonfiction Form and Theory III- Profiles and Memoir and Nonfiction Workshop. I am also involved in three internships: Willow Springs Magazine (I am a nonfiction reader), Writers in the Community (I work in a high school), and Get Lit! Festival (I am an assistant writer and editor for content.) So far, I have been almost overwhelmed by the amount of stuff there is to do in the MFA. Not only in terms of class work (though that is challenging), but also internships I can work with, my job, and still sleeping and cleaning my …

Start of Second Year: Pressure Cooked

Jeff Attaway Right now I feel like I’m concaving into myself building up and about ready to burst. I feel like I’ve felt this way since the start of term, and the feeling isn’t really letting up. Perhaps I’m more of a circus act right now trying to walk a tight rope while balancing an elephant on a tray in one hand and twirl a flaming baton in the other. It feels kind of like that. I also feel the pin pricks of my hyper awareness making me feel like they’re eyes on me at all times both literal and metaphorical. But then again none of that really makes sense. So let’s start again. I’m officially a second year student and since my program is only two years long that means my journey through my MFA years is almost over. There is something somewhat bittersweet about it because I can’t help but wonder where the time went. First year feels like it was yesterday, and it’s odd to think the 2nd years’ whose works I …

Week Two: Back to Basics

Image: Nilufer Gadgieva When I applied to MFA programs, the last thing I expected to be doing was diagramming sentences. More than that, though, the absolute last thing I expected was to love it. For my first semester of graduate school, I decided not to take any workshops. Currently, my class schedule consists of “Forms of Non-fiction: The Essay” with Neal Gabler, “Forms of Fiction: The Short Story” with SM, and “Introduction to Graduate Writing” with, essentially, the entire Creative Writing faculty. “Forms of Non-fiction: The Essay” is on Mondays from 5:20pm to 8pm. There, we talk about what the essay is, how it operates, what its goal as a piece is. We discuss structure, motive, form, craft. The class is designed to not only make you think about what an essay is, but what nonfiction really is. Can you be honest while telling a lie? What is truth? How much do you let your reader know? What am I trying to say? “Forms of Fiction: The Short Story” is Tuesdays from 5:20pm to 8:10pm. This is probably the …

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Week One: Laziness and Me

Image: Tom Gill For my first semester, I opted not to take any writing workshops. I wanted to get back to the basics – language, sentences structure, form. I’m taking three classes:  Intro to Graduate Writing, Forms of Non-fiction: The Essay, and Forms of Fiction: The Short Story. Next week, I’ll tell you a little bit more about each, in addition to how I’m making ends meet, and attempting to be a full-time daughter, girlfriend, and friend. But, right now, I want to tell you about what I’ve learned. After one week of classes, I’ve learned two things: I do not have a writing process, and I have never given much thought to the process of writing, and I am more concerned with what writing is doing for me, as opposed to what it’s doing for the reader. These facts make me a terrible writer. The reason I do not have a writing process is because, for a while, writing came naturally to me. Characters, stories, and scenes came so easily I could barely contain …

Gabler’s Law

Image: Christian Gonzalez A lot has changed in the weeks since my last post. When I was offered a place at Stony Brook Southampton, it came without funding. So, I immediately began looking for work and was excited when I was hired by the Office of Student Life at Southampton. Over the past few weeks, the department I work for has been going through a massive staff change. By the middle of July, I was the last professional staff member standing. I’d only been working for two months, had no formal training, and was suddenly in charge of making sure Southampton didn’t burn to the ground. I found myself in charge of a staff of five, with another staff of six arriving shortly. The residents in the residence halls were in full panic waiting for fall room assignments to post. I’d previously had two supervisors with whom I shared the duty phone – a professional staff member cell phone that our staff would call in case of emergency. When you are “on duty” and have …

Dealing with Doubt

Image: Romain Toornier  My first day of classes is in twenty-three days and all I can think about is not going. I have this vision of raising my hand after attendance is taken and saying, “Excuse me, Professor, you didn’t call my name.” He’ll scan the list one more time, shake his head, and tell me to go to the main office down the hall, on the right. I’ll slide my notebook back into my bag and try not to focus on those watching me leave the classroom. I’ll explain my situation to a woman behind the front desk, and wait anxiously as she types away on her keyboard. And then I’ll see it—the “oh shit” face – and know something is wrong. She won’t even excuse herself to me—she’ll just speed into the office behind her, point to me, and nod her head. “I’m so sorry, Ms. Sharkey,” she’ll say, “but you’re actually not a student here at Stony Brook Southampton. There was an error and I’m afraid you weren’t actually accepted into the MFA …