Change scares the toe-socks off of my poor little feet.** I like consistency. I'm not spontaneous. I'm bordering on OCD control-freak.
Aren't you glad you follow me? Heh.
So one of my most nerve-raking experiences came a few weeks ago. And before I tell you what I did, please know that this was an educated decision on my part, two to three years in the making. It was not rash, and I'm pretty sure I have burned no bridges.
I told my adviser that I don't want to take my PhD exams, I don't want to write a dissertation, and I would much rather be able to spend my time writing fiction.
After much promise to help me through the writing process, giving me no less than four possible dissertation topics, and suggesting the difference in employment opportunities between having a Masters and a PhD, he said, "I'm fighting because I hate to see you go. It would be insulting if I just said, 'Sure. Okay. Good luck.'" Annoyed as I might have been through the whole discuss, I appreciated his efforts to keep me around. He's been a great adviser for the past few years, incredibly supportive, pushed me to go beyond where I thought I could go, and got me opportunities I didn't think I could get. I'm grateful for all of those things in ways I don't think I could express to him.
But, with all of that support and all of the push, I've learned a lot about myself. I've learned that many of my boundaries are self-imposed, and I feel I can better recognize the ones that are real and the ones that aren't. And I have a drive toward something I love that I didn't know I had.
So, toward the end of the meeting when he said to me, "There are creative writing class you could take..." and continues to tell me how he knows the prof and could take to him to see if I could take the class, I should have been elated. But I balked. Why? Well, it was a 600-level MFA course. MFA students go through a rigorous process to get in, submitting portfolios and publication references, etc. It wouldn't be fair for me to walk in, sit down, and say, "Well, I published a short story in my HS writing magazine in 1995. I'm also working on a novel, but the professionals who have seen it haven't even seen the first 10K." Can we say "instant resent"?
But it got the idea in my head. I began hunting through the English department's course offerings for the fall semester, and found a 200-level course—the only prerequisite being E103, or Writing for Those Who Didn't Learn How to Write in HS—on creative fiction. Of the four or five section, one had one available slot.
So I emailed the contact to get permission to take the course, despite my lack of "How to Write a Thesis Statement" course. As of about 3:00 this afternoon, I am officially registered in an intro to fiction writing course with a bunch of 19 year olds.
But the bottom line is, I can hear my knees rattling. Nerves are a beautifully annoying thing. I'm not sure what's making me so concerned about it, since the last time I took a writing class was 1999. I can certainly use the pointers. I want to write more short fiction to have SOMETHING to list in a query letter for publications.
It's just change. There's no good reason to be afraid of change, except for the unknown. That's where I'm at, folks. Wish me luck!
And wish me luck if I don't get in, too. I need to find three more hours of something remotely interesting to take this semester :)
How do you deal with change? What kind of leaps-of-faith have you taken for your writing?
**Disclaimer: My feet are far from little, and I long ago got rid of all my toe socks. My wearing them was said to scare small children due to my overly large second digit.