Monday, July 23, 2012

A Necessary Change in Direction

So quite a while back I was making posts about my thesis writing process and the work I was doing for the MFA program at my university, whose name shall remain unknown. I meant to write about continuing my career as a student in pursuit of the knowledge that would enable me to become the best capable writer I could ever become in life. Going forward with the MFA program at my university was meant to help me establish my career as a writer. Mind you, I did receive fair warning before applying that I would be wasting my time. If only I'd listened.
I didn't fully delve into the MFA program until I finished my MA (gah, if I thought that sounded horrible, it looks worse in print.) So my first full semester as an MFA student was Fall 2011. I took a Translation workshop and a course on the Form and Theory of the Short Story, both with the same professor.

I loved the work. Honestly, while the translations sometimes kicked my ass and made me want to throw my Spanish language dictionary against the wall, it was a wonderful experience. By taking a course on translation I discovered the haunting stories of Liliana V. Blum, a Spanish writer whose work I chose to translate as my final project for the workshop. I analyzed short stories for a class and wrote a paper analyzing the technique of building up the facts and revelations for the perfect epiphany ending to a story. I ended the semester thinking, "Yeah, I can get a lot out of this program. This is going just right, after all."

Spring of 2012 I signed up for a course called Shakespeare and Film as an elective and chose a Playwriting workshop to fulfill my MFA credits. When I sat through that first Playwriting workshop/seminar I thought, "Oh hell, what did I get myself into?"

I felt completely out of sorts there. I was forced to speak several times and while I've gotten better at the whole speaking in public thing I didn't appreciate the smirk on the professor's face each time I finished speaking. I thought to myself, what the hell? What could I possibly be doing wrong? He's asking for my opinion!

The big thing though, that issue that sealed the deal for me to get out of there, was the big one act play we were meant to complete. No big deal, right? It's a playwriting course, for heaven's sake! But then the professor says we need actors. We're going to work as directors and have our play performed for the university. We need to find the time to choose our actors and schedule rehearsals. Our grade depends on the performance.

No way. I worked my butt off to get my GPA. There was no way I was going to jeopardize that by depending on others to pull off a performance of a play I wrote for a class where I'm only supposed to be learning the basics of playwriting. It was hard enough driving for almost over an hour to get to campus to take the course and then another hour after that at almost 11pm to get back home. But that was worth it because it was for the sake of attending the seminars given by the professors. Now they want me to drive in everyday of the week to work with people I don't know in rehearsals that may or may not get scheduled right? Where the actors may not show up because hey, they're the volunteers, they aren't worried about the grades like I am?

Maybe I'm overreacting but that seemed like a bunch of hooey for the sake of a learning experience. In the end, that class had maybe 14 students and only 6 of them were MFA people, including me. The rest were Theater majors. Maybe if Theater was my point of interest and I knew for certain that my actor/students were professional and eager to get some credit hours working on a play, or rather my play, I would have been incredibly enthusiastic for the project. Instead I wished I'd never signed up for it in the first place. The professor said we could ask family to participate with our play. Then he said if we didn't think our relatives would be a help, then we needed to get better family. One step too far, no? And the hits just keep on coming.

A friend of mine in the class kept telling me it was no big deal. I wish I had her confidence. The only regret I have in leaving that class so abruptly is that I failed to get her email before I fled for the hills. My most sincere apologies for leaving her stranded in the dust.

Abandoning that class left me with a hole in my schedule and forced me to make a quick decision. So I added Chaucer to my class load. Everything's fine, right?

Except my schedule became basically that of a regular MA student.

And that's when it hit me. If I was going to end up taking MA courses to kill time until other MFA courses opened up, I was never going to finish my new degree. It wasn't worth it, sadly enough.

My passion lies in writing. Writing that inspires me. At this moment I'm working on poetry, short stories and a few different novel ideas. But my big project? The one I'm insanely passionate about, so much so that I'm plowing my way through towers of books as background work in an effort to make my book better?

I'm expanding the work that I did for my thesis. I want to expand it into a book of critical essays.

So far, so good. The background reading/research is turning out to be 10 kinds of awesome. I guess it's true. I didn't need to take classes from people in the hopes that they would teach me how to be a better writer. I just needed to get my act together, figure out exactly what I wanted to write and get over the fact that my husband is always right.

He's told me for years that all I need to do is just write and of course, he knows exactly what he's talking about. Writing is what I'm good at and that's all he needs me to do. Now he gets his wish.

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