All posts tagged: Second Year

On Balancing Your “MFA Life” with Your Personal Life (Or At Least Trying To Do So)

I’ve been meaning to write a post about my second year for a few months now. The delay hasn’t come from a lack of ideas, but in part from the difficulty of deciding what I should say, what would be the most useful. The other factor, of course, is that my workload has been significantly heavier this year than it was my first year. I’m taking three classes (“Hypoxic Workshop” again, “Uses of History,” and “The Personal Essay”), whereas most second year MFA students at Alabama take only two (I don’t regret my decision, but….). I’m also teaching two classes (English 101: Freshman Composition), which takes up far more time and mental energy than my position as a TA for a lecture class last year. Because I have so much to do, it often feels like time spent “working” should be spent on reading and researching and writing for classes and lesson planning and grading and responding to students’ e-mails, and any time beyond that should be spent actively unwinding, socializing or watching TV or …

Stop writing, then write

Image: alone in a bar by x1klima I’m not sure how the rest of you write. A good friend works with twenty-something drafts that he keeps renumbering; I work mainly in my head. I need to feel an essay before my fingers know how to make it take shape, and I have to see it in script before I know how to find the message hidden in the keyboard. I’ve learned though, that working out my head and my hands only with essays makes them calloused in certain places, tight in others, and less open to different movements. In the creative field, this rigidity is dangerous, restrictive—boring. So this summer, I learned to get creative with something else. I left the essays to frolic about in my mind while I committed my hands to working with colors, textures, quantities and shapes. Without an art space and a supreme lack in supplies, I turned to cooking for a creative outlet, and I experimented with that medium as I would with anything in an art studio. This …

April, Cruel Cruel April

To quote the famous poem… April is the cruelest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Memory and desire, stirring Dull roots with spring rain. – T.S. Elliot from The Wasteland (1922) I am midway through the fourth month of my fourth semester and, alas, perhaps April really is the cruelest month. Despite celebrating the birthdays of many amazing friends and family – including my own – during this fine month, this particular April is proving to be a doozy.

Attending ICFA Three Months Before Graduation

  This weekend, I attended ICFA for the first time. So I suffer from Impostor Syndrome, and I swore all of my interactions were going to go like this: But actually, because everyone is so cool and we writers are all nerdy masochists who love our art, it ended up like this:   I got to present on a panel about Alternate History in Science Fiction and Fantasy, and it went really well. I got to talk about my thesis and talk about other people’s projects. We went to a bunch of presentations and listened to cool papers and hung out by the pool, and the best BBQ comes three hours late after long talks about injustice and mini-lessons on ASL. I got to get some great advice from some great mentors, listen to people’s new projects, and grab all of the books I could possible fit into my suitcase. Everyone is trying to figure it out, trying to fight for what they believe in, trying to reach out and share ideas and grow as …

The Best and Worst Things About Being an MFA Student in 2015

It’s the end of the year, and that means time for lists! By this time next year, I will have graduated my MFA program. By this time six months from now, I will have just graduated. This time last year, I’d only been in the program for six months. So this means that 2015 was my only year of completely being in this graduate program. Time to reflect! BEST THINGS: 1. I LEARNED HOW TO WRITE! I know, what? In a writing program? It seems obvious, but until you’re in the thick of it, you don’t realize just how much you’re changing and adapting and learning until you look at a manuscript you wrote before entering the program, and you give out an “ohhhhh fuuuuuuudge.” All of the reading and writing and analyzing and work-shopping forces you to grow and evolve as a person in the field. 2. I MET REALLY COOL PEOPLE. My professors and my fellow students are some of the coolest, most open-hearted people I’ve worked with. Sometimes I read things that …

First Years versus Second Years

Image: Daniel Orth In September, phones all over SoCal lit up with the same message, the bios for the new admits were up. By ourselves and in small groups, we plugged the link for our MFA program into our browsers. We held our faces close to our laptop screens to better see every freckle, smile line, and sun spot (or lack thereof) of the new recruit’s faces in the small photos next to their blurbs. We read the words they’d written about their selves in third person and wondered what they would be like IRL. As a Peer Mentor, I have more frequent contact with this year’s incoming cohort than most second years. Second years are busier than first years, because we’re taking classes, teaching classes, and trying to finish up our thesis. We have offices that we spend our spare time on campus in versus the sticky 10-chair conference table in the lobby of our department, so chance conversations are harder to encounter. I remember this same unintentional divide existing last year and not really …

Year Two: Two Weeks In

And so it begins – Year Two of my MFA – with homework piled sky-high. I’ve been describing it to people like this: Year One was like learning how to plan a fabulous, fun-filled, memorable vacation. Year Two appears to be more like learning how to build your own airplane. From scratch. With your bare hands. As I write this (and yes, procrastinate on homework for a while) I am thinking about all of the assignments due before my next class meetings. The list looks something like this: