Month: May 2010

Proofread This

My thesis essay is sitting next to me. All I have to do is proofread it and email it to my chair. Get excited.

I’m stoked about this, although today has got to be the day that tops my worst teaching day ever. Thank God for positives like finishing up grad school stuff.  If today wasn’t Friday I would have had to call a substitute teacher in, because if I had to look into the eyes of those demon children for one more day this week it would not have ended well.

Things to look forward to this weekend:

Working out

Small revisions to my novel

Possible sections to be added to my novel (still haven’t decided)

My tomato plant is starting flower, little baby tomatoes are a great way to end a rough week

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Teaching, Writing, and Thesising: Oh My!

In One Mean MFA fashion I’m writing a blog post instead of just banging out the last ten–really 8 pages of my thesis essay. The essay is a discussion of my influences, my process, and why I write. As with everything related to my thesis, I’ve waited until the last minute to complete it. I know what I want to write, but as is the case with any of the writing I do, it’s not the conception, or the characters, or plot, or whatever that troubles me, it’s simply sitting down to do it.

As you know I’ve been teaching high school English since March, and while I’ve been surprising more productive despite being busy, I find myself entering my apartment after a long day of teaching teenagers and being unable to do anything intellectual. I would wake up earlier to get some writing done, but my only qualm with this is that I already wake up at 5:30.  How much earlier can I wake up? 4:30? I mean I would be able to get a good hour in of writing a day, but I’d have to hit the sack around 9ish and that is not going to happen.

Teaching wears me and while I know it’s going to sound terrible, I refuse to bring home any teacher stuff. All my grading and planning I do at school, at my desk, in my classroom. My first year teaching I used to lug around textbooks, papers, homework, and tests. Back and forth, I’d carry it into my house and work on it at the kitchen table; the same place I did homework in high school. Because I’ve been trying to stay focused on my thesis, I’ve decided that it’s more important to devote my kitchen table space to my work. Not my students’ work.

Still, even though I’m not grading or planning at home I can’t seem to get myself to be motivated enough to do anything when I finish teaching. I know I started teaching in the middle of a semester, but I”m looking forward to summer when I can have my days off to continue looking for an instructor or adjunct position in the area and get some writing done that doesn’t have anything to do with my thesis. Teaching high school again has really helped me decide what my priorities are and writing is definitely on top.

Making money is great; I’m not going to lie, but I can’t honestly say that when I wake up to go teach those high school kids that I’m truly content and satisfied. I found so much more happiness teaching college students how to write papers and got paid peanuts to do it. I got to see them grow as writers and thinkers. At the high school,I mostly witness new cheating techniques and different levels of complaints about how I chose the most horrible literature for them to read. I will say, on a positive note, that they are really enjoying the novel I’ve chosen for them; this is a refreshing change from all the complaining.

While I know everything will work itself out–I’ll get that essay done, finish those last-minute touches, and manage to be super teacher–right now I wish I had a little more motivation to finish the measly 2500 words I have left to write.

I will add, in an effort to be positive, I have been enjoying thinking about my process and what I learned about myself as I wrote my very first novel. It’s also quite awesome that I get to write about myself for 10 pages. Can’t complain about that.

Now that I’m feeling more focused and ready to work, I think I’ll get to it. Who knows I might get it all done tonight.

Revisions: CHECK!

Well, I’m now one step closer to graduation in August.

This afternoon I finally finished revising my thesis. While I know I’m not completely finished (there are some minor additions and subtractions that I need to do) I’m really close to being done.

When I got to my last ten pages I broke down in tears. I couldn’t breathe, but I was smiling. It’s crazy to be able to see the light at the end of an oh-so-dark tunnel.

I’m super excited to be inching close to a goal that I’ve had for so many years. I’m also stoked because once I’m completely done I can start working on some new projects that have been marinating in my brain. I have a ton of short stories I’d like to write, and I’m cooking up a nonfiction piece that I’m eager to get into.

Even though it’s very exciting I still have a twenty page essay that I need to write and I have to get all the formatting on point. I know I’m really close to getting it done and don’t want to forget about my end goal.

In the meantime, I’ll be working on this essay and working with the graduate college on my formatting. I’ll be defending some time in June and then holy crap I’ll really be One Mean MFA!

God-willing I’ll find a job that doesn’t require parents calling me to tell me I’m too mean. More on the high school teaching later.

For now I think I’ll celebrate with a much-needed workout!

Later tonight, I actually get to have my boyfriend back because the past two weeks we’ve both been so busy that we have barely seen each other. It’s been a lot of phone calls that go something like this…

HIM: Am I coming over for dinner tonight?

ME: Sorry, I’m not quite done with this project.

HIM: No worries.

or

ME: Sorry I was going to make dinner for us but this is taking longer than expected.

HIM: No worries.

or

HIM: I’m not going to be coming over.

ME: Why?

HIM: I don’t want to be a distraction.

ME: Oh, fine….

This has been life for the past two weeks. I’m glad I’ll be able to start cooking for someone other than myself.

REVISIONS CHECK!

End of Project Blues

I can’t quite figure out what the hell is wrong with me. While I am tempted to say a lot of things, I’m really more concerned with one thing. Why the hell did I waste today and not finally just finish revising my last forty pages?

I woke up this morning and thought, “Make some breakfast, have your coffee, then get to work.”

Well, before I knew it I realized I had a hair appointment and then when I got back from that I decided I needed to get a tomato plant and other plants. I then returned from the garden center and got to work repotting some plants and well now it’s late, I’m tired, and I haven’t revised a gosh darn page.

The thing is, these final pages are due on Monday. If don’t turn them I can say good-bye to summer graduation. Shouldn’t that be enough of an incentive to force myself to focus? I mean really, hasn’t this project gone on enough?! Why do I torture myself like this?

Why?

Well, I’ve been wondering about this all day, as I worked on things other than my thesis. Instead of enjoying the gardening and hair appointment the whole time I kept thinking, “I should be writing.” This is no way to live. Instead of just getting it done I’m procrastinating. I’m like my students. GAH!

Could it be that I’m afraid to finish? I mean there is something scary about being done with this degree and not having any clue what the future will bring. While I’m well aware that regardless of if I finish I don’t know what my future will be like, it’s like when I finish this novel a large chapter of my own life will be ending and that is always frightening.

As my graduation day approaches, I have been applying for jobs that an MFA is more than qualified for, and as I receive rejection letters up the ying-yang, and my bank account quickly dwindles to nothing, I feel like starting in August life is going to be tough. Real tough. Not grad student budget tough, like I-can’t-get-student-loans-because-I-graduated tough and I can’t find a job because the market sucks. Which is scary because there are no jobs and while NPR reports the economy is getting better I can’t say I’m even close to being able to live comfortably. I basically spend my money on food and gas, both of which are expensive, especially when you love to eat fresh produce.

My most recent paycheck didn’t even cover my rent this month and once my bills get paid, I’m done. I don’t have any money. NOTHING. I’m not quite sure how I’ll be gassing up my car to get to a job that doesn’t pay me enough to even get there.

I think about all these things, as I procrastinate and I just hope that when I do finally sit down and focus, that I end up writing something so brilliant that Clint Eastwood decides he wants to turn it into his next masterpiece and I can retire early and just write forever.

While this is a dream, I’m quite sure it will remain a dream and not become a reality. In the meantime, I’ve got forty pages–that’s it just forty sitting next to me that need to revised by Monday.

It’s going to be a long night.