For my Master of Arts program, we were given the assignment of writing down our goals – what is it that we hope to get out of the program this upcoming year. This is what I wrote:
Year two has already started and it is hard to believe that I will be done with my Master’s degree this time next year. The clock is ticking, and far too quickly I might add, something I am realizing with every passing year. I am acknowledging that I need to grab onto every moment firmly before it disappears. Unlike last year, which I spent trying to get my bearings, I am going to take advantage of every moment I can, moving forward, to grow as a writer and reader beyond the average.
Because of all my commitments last year, I felt like my writing was last on a long list of priorities. Frankly, it was. I was working two jobs and balancing family life. The entire purpose of joining this program was to give me a reason to actually work towards my goals without letting life get in the way. My reality wasn’t exactly what I had hoped, and even though I wanted more for myself, I still got a lot out the program.
Despite developing as a reader and improving my writing significantly, I have a long way to go. I have high aspirations and I want to be the best that I can be in this field; I am not sure that I will ever feel good enough or smart enough – insecurities I will have to learn to brush aside. Because I expect only the best out of myself, I want my thesis at the end of this year to be ready for publishing. I know this is a lofty goal and that most graduates of a program like this one are years out and multiple revisions away from a published book, but that doesn’t scare me. With every revision, I have taken baby steps in the right direction; this year I will need to do better than that. Be better than that. If I want to publish my book in the next few years, I will need to start taking leaps.
This year’s residency really made me think a lot about how to analyze other writers’ text. Even though I was the only nonfiction student in my workshop group this summer, it was for the best, because it taught me a lot about constructively criticizing my peers’ fiction work. As a nonfiction student, I spend so much time reading other nonfiction authors that I rarely think about characterization and plot as it pertains to novels. I wish I could have given my peers more constructive feedback, I just found all their work fascinating and beautiful in its own way. Nevertheless, hearing the comments that Steve (our director) and the other students made, helped me rethink my approach in workshop.
All in all, I have had a wonderful time as a student of creative writing. I know I will never stop wanting to learn and improve, so my goals for this year are to take in everything I can in the short time I have left so that I can leave the program ready to tackle anything that may come my way. I know the writing life isn’t easy, this is why building community with other writers is paramount. I am going to do a better job of staying in touch with other students of the program and even work towards finding writers within my area that I can connect with. The common theme I have heard from all our visiting writers is that relationships are important. Probably as important as the writing itself. This is a lonely career. We spend hours in our head and writing in solitude, so we need to remember to connect as much as possible with other people doing the same type of work. We need to support each other and be the best literary citizens we can be. If I can do all of this, I think I will be okay, and that makes me excited to see what is to come.