Thursday, January 16, 2014

One Last Time

The spring semester started on Monday, which means I'm officially on the last leg of my MFA journey. As much as I love school and look forward to the first day, the new classes, and the fresh students, this particular beginning is bittersweet. I won't go on and on about how much I love being a student in general, and a part of this MFA program in particular, because I'm sure there will be many posts dedicated to that, especially as I near graduation. Instead I'll just say there's nothing like a first day, and I'm sad that this will be my last one (for a while, anyway - we'll see how long I can stay away from academia this time. So far, my record is four years). 

Bittersweet feelings aside, I'm glad to be back in school and in the familiar arms of my routine. Winter break was lovely, mostly because of all the books I read, but I was ready to get back to the classroom. This semester looks a lot like last semester, with one wonderful exception - instead of teaching at 9AM, my earliest class is at 11AM. This is an ideal schedule for me, because it leaves my mornings free for revising my thesis, writing new stories, submitting to journals, and, okay, fine, blogging. I do my best creative thinking between 6AM and 10AM, in my bathrobe, with a cup of coffee, so I'm thrilled to have those hours back. 

I'm excited for both the classes I'm teaching. One is a lit class that covers all the genres (fiction, poetry, drama, creative nonfiction, and graphic novels). I made my own reading list, with a loose dystopian theme, and it's already generated some interesting class discussions. We're starting with short stories, and tomorrow we're talking about "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson, and "The Ceiling" by Kevin Brockmeier - two of my personal favorites, so I can't wait to see what the students think. And the novel we'll read in a few weeks is The Handmaid's Tale, which I can't wait to revisit. 

My second class is Introduction to Fiction Writing, and this is my third time teaching it, which simplifies things. For the first half of the semester, we read and discuss short stories, supplemented with my slightly awkward and pun-filled lectures, and then after spring break we workshop the students' stories. Workshop is my favorite, mostly because I don't have to give any more awkward lectures. Luckily, my students seem to have a good sense of humor and have laughed at almost all my jokes so far, so I think we're going to get along just fine. 

As for my own education, I'm done with coursework, but signed up for a class anyway, because I love classes and this was my one and only chance to take a workshop with Rebecca Lee. She's the author of the much acclaimed short story collection Bobcat, which was one of my top three favorite books of 2013. She's also a really lovely person. The class is full of my favorite friends and writers, and I think it might just be the best class of my MFA career. I'm eager for the chance to write and workshop one or two new short stories. I've been in novel-mode for the last two years, and I think the shift will be good for me, creatively. 

And then, of course, there's the thesis. I have to turn it into my committee sometime in mid-March, and I'd like to go through the whole thing one more time before then. That should be just enough time, especially if I start right now. Which means I better wrap this up. 

I'll leave you with a quote I came across on Ashley's family blog, Writing Chapter Three. It doesn't have much to do with this post, but I really love it, and am thinking about adopting it as a personal mantra. 

Here's to a productive morning and a great day. Until next time.