I want to talk about grad school.
Mostly, I want to talk about why I’m pretty sure I’m breaking up with grad school. To all of my wonderful classmates and my two instructors, who have been so supportive, welcoming, and encouraging, I want to start out by saying: It’s not you. It’s me.
Almost exactly one year ago, I blogged about my provisional student status for the graduate writing program I applied to. I’d waffled back and forth over even applying–was it the right fit for me as a writer? I didn’t know. And apparently neither did they. When I was accepted provisionally, I was torn: was this a sign I didn’t belong? Or was it just a sign that I had something to prove? Either way, I was determined to find out. I signed up for my first class, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I ended up loving it.
I took the spring off. I finished the first draft of AMD&B. I rewrote. I split the book in half and rewrote more. I applied for full status and was accepted. I signed up for class #2. I kept writing and editing and fixing and learning.
Summer came, and I started class #2. A workshop. I knew it’d be a lot of work, but I thought I could manage it. I thought I could balance, I thought I could keep writing and finish AMD&B by the end of the summer, and maybe start the shiny new circus book demanding attention from me, while I took one class.
Just one class.
I was so, so wrong. Naive? Maybe. Exhausted? Definitely. Writing? Nope.
I was in school for writing, but I wasn’t writing. Writing was–and is–the one thing I know for sure that I want to be doing. And I found myself starting to resent school because it was keeping me from writing. And really, writing is what I need to be doing right now. I have two books that need finishing–two books that I believe in with my entire heart, two stories that I love SO MUCH and I can’t wait to share with the world.
I didn’t sign up for a class this fall. I’m not planning on taking another in the spring. After that? Who knows. I’m not even sure where I’m going to be in a year. But I know what I’ll be doing: writing.
This wasn’t an easy decision to make. Poor Eric had to deal with me agonizing over it for weeks. I felt like if I’d quit, I’d be letting people down. I know this is silly and ridiculous and totally not true, but sometimes my brain doesn’t care if things are silly or ridiculous or not true–it latches on anyway. I’ve already told ALL THESE PEOPLE that I was going to grad school for writing. What would they THINK if I quit?
But then I had my one-on-one meeting with my instructor a few weeks ago. It was right after I workshopped the beginning of the circus book, and she said something that stuck with me: she told me to be selfish. In order to be successful, I had to start thinking of myself as a writer first.
So that’s what I’m doing. I’m being selfish. I’m putting my career first. I’m not sure that this is exactly what she meant, but the minute she said that, I felt free. Like I had permission to dive in and do what I need to do. I’m fortunate enough to be a part of a really amazing community of incredibly talented writers, so I won’t be going it alone.
I don’t know what exactly the future holds for me, but I’m really, really excited to get there. And until then? I’ll be writing. I have books to finish. ♥