All posts tagged: thesis

Strategizing for Second Year

Image: Shemsu.Hor The countdown has begun. After a summer of traveling in Europe, teaching ESL classes, seeing the utterly inspirational musical Hamilton, and generally avoiding writing despite my desire to get ahead, I’ve started my fall classes and I finally have the motivation to do what I came to grad school for: write. I’m in my second and final year of my MA in creative writing at UC Davis, which means between now and May I need to write a thesis. I’ve decided to make my thesis a collection of short stories. Compartmentalizing my thesis into smaller, doable tasks— writing one story at a time— will do wonders for my mental health. Or at least that’s what I’m hoping. When I was an undergraduate, I wrote a senior thesis for my English degree. It was an academic paper that ended up being 90 pages long and not very good, even though I worked on it for a whole year straight. My entire senior year I felt this looming sense of dread hovering over me, like …

Concerning Your Creative Thesis …

Note: This blog entry talks primarily about a creative thesis. Dear MFA Student, Congratulations on getting in/your impending graduation! It’s been a long application process/one to three years of study. No matter where you are on your magical journey of poverty and eye exhaustion from reading assignments, I am going to tell you all about the thesis. Yes, the thesis. The last hurdle in obtaining your magical nugget of a degree. For new students, the thesis is a mystical dragon living far away in a misty mountain they’ve only heard about in stories. For near-to graduating students, that dragon has arrived, is now burning down Lake-town, and you are not the one with the magical dragon-killing arrow. You’re feeling more like the fat guy who gets the dead monster corpse dropped on him. So first: Don’t panic. In its heart of hearts, the dragon that is your thesis is actually your beautiful baby in disguise. It’s just got an evil spell of guidelines and deadlines cast upon it. The thesis, if you are doing a …

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.

March Forth

March 4th. Yesterday’s date happens to be my sister’s birthday but it is also a message, as I learned on Facebook (the oracle of our times) when someone pointed out that it is the only day of the year that gives you direction: march forth. That sort of sums up how I feel at the moment, that I’m in a “chop wood, carry water” phase of just keeping it all moving forward. March forth.

Semester Four: Teaching

Semester Four. Wow. How did that happen? Feels like just yesterday I was waiting patiently for my applications to be processed and find out where I might be accepted. And here it is, my last semester of courses. One of the things that drew me to Stony Brook is that they encourage everyone to take classes outside of their comfort zone. This seemed important going into the process and now, as I am nearing the end, I am absolutely convinced that this structure has made me a more rounded writer, critic and thinker.

On Finishing my MFA

Image: waferboard In September 2012, I embarked upon a creative writing MFA at Stony Brook, Southampton. This was my first return to academic environs since my completion of an MA in sociology in 2010. In the intervening years, I taught briefly. I also attempted to write on my own. The idea appealed to me romantically—sitting down each day at my desk, a diary open in front of me, and just writing, writing, writing. Ever since my childhood, I have been an inveterate consumer of notebooks, always eager to finish one as soon as I bought it. I was, as yet, unfamiliar with the idea of revision, happy to believe that the words I had just penned would make their way unassailed to the printed page. Writing on your own is harder than it sounds, much harder. It is difficult to stick to a routine when you are your own master. It is so easy to give up and say that you have no idea what to write, that you are suffering from a mental block. …