Welcome to my self-indulgent location for the stories (good and bad) that I can't prevent myself from writing. All comments and criticisms welcome. I post on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Taking the Initiative

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.


M.J. Nicholls said...

Plenty of the people on my writing MA felt the same. You will blend in fine, and have experience and practice on your side. Not being in any writing class scares me. On own! On own!

RosieC said...

Oh, we shall see... :)

Jemi Fraser said...

I bet you'll love it! It's always a bit terrifying to start something new, but you'll feel good once you get going :)

Michelle said...

My hubster never wrote his dissertation either and he turned out just fine lol

That is a huge leap of faith but I love love love that you followed your heart. I cannot for the life of me (at 11pm) remember if you write YA or not and I apologize for that... but what an opportunity to spy some behaviors in your new class! Enjoy your class and I know you will do fabulous work there!

I actually have to decide whether to go back to work this fall (like in 2 weeks) or say... "meh... I'm writing a novel. see you peeps later." I think this will be the biggest leap of faith so far.

Good Luck!!

RosieC said...

Jemi, thanks. I hope so, too. I'm trying to be positive through my shaking hands :)

Michelle, trust me, I know I'll be fine sans dissertation! :) LOL And, yes, I do write YA (I'm not sure if I've specified that or not, actually, so it's okay that you don't remember). How is it that I hadn't thought about this as research on top of everything else! :) That's so fabulous. Thanks for pointing that out! Good luck with your decision, too :)

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Change is always scary. I think the fact that you were this passionate about your descision means a lot. You'll be fine and you'll probably be much further ahead of most of the other students. :)

Cheeseboy said...

Well, just reading your blog, I think you will do a fine job. No worries.

RosieC said...

Sharon, thanks. Not to toot my own horn, but having a minimum of 10 years on these kids already gives me a leg up. Keep your fingers crossed!

Cheeseboy, that's really sweet. Thank you!

Al said...

I suppose the biggest jump I have made is setting up a business to publish my own books. We'll see how that goes.
What matters is how you feel about your decision, if it is right for you it is right. End of story.
Best of luck with the road ahead.

Cruella Collett said...

I know the feeling. I struggle so much with my master's (or rather, I struggle with myself not wanting to write it, for whatever reason), so whenever people ask me if I want to go on with a PhD I just glare at them. Glare! (Of course when my supervisor/advisor, some time in the not-too-distant future, will ask me the same, I will have a problem. I will want to say yes just to get her approval. But I don't really want to keep doing what I do now for three more years!)

Anyway, good for you that you summoned the courage to be honest. And good luck with the writing course!

RosieC said...

Al, that's cool. Good luck with the business. And I hope this was the right decision for me. *fingers crossed* I *think* it was.

Cruella, I think a good strong glare is a mighty appropriate response to someone asking if you want to continue. I went straight into the PhD (which has become a problem now as I try to get credit for the Masters work I did), so I never had people asking if I wanted it, just what I would write my dissertation about. It's pretty bad when you're starting your 6th *gag* year and still have no idea what to write about. So, instead, I'm going to write about princesses and magic and evil queens. :)

Claudia said...

Kudos to you for following your passion. Degrees and diplomas don't mean a lot if you're not working on the field you studied or if you didn't learn anything from it. I know a couple of people where I live who have a Ph.D. and they're selfish people and with a huge dearth of manners. They're not even working on what they studied. On the other side of the spectrum, I've met wonderful people with only BAs and MAs and some even without either that are extremely successful (economically) not to mention happy with themselves. I believe writing is a spiritual journey and you're on that path. I would also advise you to take writing workshops in your neighborhood. You get to know like-minded people, make wonderful connections, and it's a different setting from university.
I think that making that decision was the hardest part, and you're over it. So writing should be just a breeze ;)
I wish you lots of inspiration and ease in your writing!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You just show those 19-year olds a thing or two!
I admit I don't like change. Moving the furniture around freaks me out.

RosieC said...

Oh, Claudia, how true it is. Education only seems to matter when you don't have experience, but my PhD in Slavic Linguistics sure won't help me get a job working on Wall Street. LOL (not that I want to work there, mind you). I think I'll be much happier when I can detach myself from the university completely. I would like to take community-based classes, too, and I know they're worth it, but living on two grad stipends makes for NOOOO "disposable" income, unless you count food. Okay, I'm exaggerating, but to plunk down $500 in one sitting isn't something I can do right now. I will when we make a little more $$.

Alex, yeah, I should wipe the floor with those kids! HA! Here's hoping. And I agree about moving the furniture, but mainly because I'm sure the dust bunnies will come alive and eat me for destroying their habitat :)

DEZMOND said...

Oh, hooray for you, Rosie!
I personally love changes, even though my life is pretty much scheduled on an every day basis. Changes can wake up your creative energy whether they are just small, like cooking something new or bigger like changing a career or a job place. And unlike my dear Alex above, I adore moving and changing furniture and most people in furniture shops know me by my first name :)))

RosieC said...

Thanks, Dezmond :) I'm definitely hoping this will give me a serious creative kick. I could use a little more energy in that department! So do you buy that much furniture? Or do you love it so much that you go with all your friends, too? :)

DEZMOND said...

well, I love buying furniture for myself (off course I'm not a billionaire so those are not always big pieces) but since I also do interior decoration, I like to keep updated with the offer in town :)

Hart Johnson said...

When we decided to relocate in 2000 we chose Ann Arbor partially because I intended to get a PhD in public health... Four years ago, after working 6 years in academia, I decided I don't WANT to do that... I want to write books... So this hit home. You have to follow what you want to do, and a dissertation is years of effort that... if you don't want to USE your PhD, can definitely be time better spent writing.

I took a creative writing class during my BA, and unlike my other classes, it was a pretty big age mix. You will be fine.

RosieC said...

Dezmond, aah... interior design. I'm the kind of person that if i got into it, I would buy more than I sold/designed, and would end up in more debt than I'm in now! Hehe.

Hart, at least with a PhD in public health you could get a job! What does one do with a PhD in Slavic Linguistics? Ha! Beyond researching Slavic Linguistics, there's not much, and since I don't want to do that, I can definitely let it go. It's nice to hear that your writing class was mixed. It gives me hope that I won't be ridiculously old. I checked out the TA who's teaching the class, and I'm pretty sure she's older than me. That's a good thing, anyway :)

Robert Guthrie said...

You are clearly a person with wisdom. Wow.

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