Sitting next to me is my revised thesis which still needs revising. While I’m sure I will feel it needs perpetual revision, this weekend I found myself unable to get anything writing related done. My final final final draft is due to my committee on the 7th. So I basically have about 10 days to get it done.  This weekend I instead starting making big plans for the up and coming months.

Because of my brilliant planning, I am done teaching any new literature to my high schoolers, and have actually made copies of just about everything I’m going to need for the rest of the year. There are a few things here and there that will need copying, but there is hardly any homework to grade, because most of it will be drafts of their final paper. I’m looking forward to summer, because these past few months of teaching have taken it out of me.

I will say that I think teaching this past semester, at the high school, has forced me to be productive. Last night while watching whatever was on TBS and then later North by Northwest, I reorganized all my previous teaching materials into psychotically organized binders. I still have to do the same with my teaching stuff at work, but once it’s done I’ll be good to go.

Spending this past semester working on my thesis and teaching high school, I have learned a lot about what direction I’d like to take and teaching high school is not it.  It could be that I’ve had  a rough experience, but I do find that I’m too invested in writing and this is why teaching at the secondary level is not for me.

I’ve been so eager to get out of the high school that I decided sometime this past week that I needed to start packing up my classroom.  While it may be premature, because they may ask me back, I have found myself thinking about what papers I’ll be recycling and which papers I will be organizing into binders. Also, some of the old teacher’s things are still in my classroom and frankly I would like to have the whole room packed up and ready to go by the 8th.

My writing goals to be completed by August:

1)  To write another food essay

2) To write two to three short stories (in the first person) my thesis is in the third and I’ve been itching to write in a character’s voice

3) To publish some more work (at least one)

4) To get a job at the college or university level (this will mostly depend on the market but I have faith that my CV is pretty good and will land me a job)

5) To be halfway done with major revisions to my thesis as I work towards having it ready to send to publishers.

Some reading goals:

I’d like to finish reading some books I started and didn’t finish including:

The Time Traveler’s Wife

-The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao

-The Road

I’d also like to finally read:

-Jane Eyre ( I know how I have not read it yet)

Love in the Time of Cholera

-Dante’s Inferno

Goals that have nothing to do with writing or reading

1) I’d like to get back into my running routine. My sprained ankle and laziness has gotten me into a running rut.

2) Finally get my apartment decorated–this will require funding and right now the money situation doesn’t look good.

Well, I feel good having written down some goals. It always makes them more official when you know some people will be reading them and you have to live up to them. I’m thinking I’ll update you guys on my progress after my thesis defense.

Holy crap I’m so close.



Hysterical Appreciation

A month ago I turned my thesis rough draft in. I busted my ass to get it done in time and the last few days I spent working on it I was convinced completing the rough draft of this novel would never happen.

It did.

I was surprised that I did it, having under estimated myself, something I do too often and is a result of my destructively low self-esteem. Seeing the manuscript printed and ready to be mailed to my professor was pretty cool. A stack of papers, half a ream of paper…whoa. The work I had done, had me on track to graduate in Spring.

I neglected to think that my thesis chair would ask me to push back my graduation, so after a failed job interview (yes, I’m still unemployed–this economy is so terrible–Great Recession, try Depression) I received an email from my chair telling me my thesis wasn’t ready for a spring graduation. My chair was kind enough to acknowledge that informing over email was harsh, but I was scheduled for a visit the following week. I’m relieved my professor told me over email because I read the email and in my already emotional state, I was hysterical. I cried and cried and cried.

I was failure. A big fat failure.

Well, after my breakdown I drove to my boyfriend’s (this seems like a luxury since for the past four years I was only able to call him, now if I get upset he gives me a hug instead of kind words over the phone miles away from each other). He helped me realize that now my thesis would be even better than if I were to graduate in Spring. I’d have three more months to make it perfect, to make it something I will be proud of.

Having a thesis I love is something very important to me. My chair knew this from the get go. My chair gives great criticism and holds me to the highest standards. This is initially why I asked this professor to be my chair. During our meeting my chair said, “It’s already good, I just want to see you take it to the next level.” That felt good. I should mention my chair doesn’t give complements out willy nilly.

I now have new deadlines. The program I’m enrolled requires M.F.A.’s to turn in a completed rough draft at the beginning of the semester they are going to graduate. Since I anticipated a spring graduation I turned my thesis in this January. Now that I’m graduating in summer my “rough draft” is due at the end of May or beginning of June. The final version is due in July and the defense is at the end of July and graduation is in August.

While this seems like a ton of time, it isn’t. Before I know it will be May and I’ll be turning it another “rough draft” which I’m hoping needs minimal revisions.

My chair was very encouraging during our meeting, pointing out my growth as a writer and easing my worries about certain aspects of my novel. Since the general concept of my novel has the potential to be cliché, I was worried this might happen, I was assured it had not.

I left my meeting almost relieved that I would have more time to write a thesis that I can be proud of and can hopefully get published. 

I have a friend from grad school who had the same thing happen to her. She turned in her rough draft and her chair advised her to push back her graduation to summer. She wrote a collection of poems for her thesis. When I was venting to her about my disappointment she told me how the same thing had happened to her. She then told me that every poem in her thesis has been published and one of her poems won a prestigious award. Hearing this made me feel better.

While my goal is to produce the best thesis possible, it would be pretty cool to have written a book that can be picked up at Barnes and Noble.

A Nightly Inspiration

I don’t know how often this happens to you, but it happens to me regularly. I’m just about to enter dreamland and it hits me, a great sentence. A poem. A story idea.

I used to roll over and ignore it. I don’t do that anymore. Convinced I’d remember in the morning I let the ideas leave me, gone forever. Waking up not even being close to remembering. So now I keep a pad and pen next to my lamp so I can quickly jot down my idea and then fall asleep in peace.  I’ve also started documenting my dreams (a suggestion from my boyfriend, who I believe was so sick of me telling him about the clouds and pirates and alligators). I’m currently working on a short story that was inspired by a dream/nightmare.

The following is a poem that came to me last night. I’d love to make it better but I’m not sure what to do with it. Since I’m not in any workshops this semester I’d love any and all suggestions. Seriously. I want to know what you all think (yes, even if you think a donkey could write a better poem).

Thanks in advance.


An Existentialist No More

(copyright http://www.onemeanmfa.wordpress.com)


I won’t just be

I’ll be


I’ll be


I’ll be

            a Punch


plain and Human

accept the purpose.






Not for me

I’ll soak in the breeze

Swallow salt water

Do Jumping Jacks



You take Your theory


Am better than that.

I’ll be:







(copyright www.onemeanmfa.wordpress.com)


Thoughts? Criticism?

Practice Makes Perfect

So while ago I wrote about my non-existent writing schedule. I am proud to say it is no longer non-existent.

Initially when I started grad school I was writing only when I had deadlines. I think this is an issue with a lot MFA students. We are so bogged down with our literature classes and writing feedback for our classmates for workshop that we neglect our own work. I know that was my issue.

I’m currently enrolled in a three year program that requires both literature classes as well as workshops. The amount of literature  credits that I am required to take is three credits short of receiving an MA. It’s quite literature intensive, and because of the heavy focus on literature courses I knew I’d need a writing schedule that would enable me to write my own stuff.

If I continued to let my deadline system continue to be the only drive I had to write, all I’d have written is a crappy thesis I’d be embarrassed to revise, and way too many literature papers than I’d know what to do with. When would I produce anything else?

I was discussing this with my thesis chair. My professor suggested I write first thing in the morning, so that  “then it’s done.” I could move on with my day not worried about not having written anything because it would have been done as my first cup of coffee was being finished.

Since I didn’t have any kind of schedule I decided to give it a shot. I will say I was concerned writing in the morning was going to effect my workout routine. I enjoy running in the morning because it hasn’t gotten so hot yet and I can usually beat whatever weather issue my area may be having. In order to prevent any kind of interruption to my running regimen I set my alarm an hour earlier and decided I’d write for an hour first thing in the morning, then run, then shower and finish up the rest of my classwork.

Well, I will say it totally works for me.  I always thought that I was a nocturnal writer; that my best work flowed from my brain in the late hours of the night. Au Contraire! After a decent night of rest (who get’s good sleep anymore or ever, I know I sure don’t) I’m able to think clearly and focus. The best part of this writing in the morning thing is if that hour of writing sucks I get to run it out of my system and know I’ll be better the next morning or if I have a little bit of time to spare in the evening after class I can try again.

I’m so glad to have found my groove. I was hoping that would be something that I learned in grad school and it seems that after a year I have.

I know that not everyone is a morning person. I definitely am. Actually, I’m kind of an insomniac but I think I prefer the morning to night as far as being productive is concerned. Regardless of the kind of person you are, I think the trick to finding a writing schedule is to force yourself to set aside an allotted amount of time EVERYDAY.

Maybe you don’t have an hour to spare, then give yourself  twenty minutes. I know I waste twenty minutes here and there all day everyday, why not write during that time instead?

I’m sure when the fall starts or when I start my summer teaching I may have to cut my hour down to 45 minutes or even to half an hour, still I don’t plan on stopping my schedule all together because “I’m busy.” My thesis and my writing career are too important.  Plus, I think this is true with so many skills…Practice makes perfect.

This has become my mantra: Practice makes perfect, practice makes perfect and so I encourage all you writers out there to remember that when you are in a slump and can’t “find time to write” you won’t get any better unless you write. That poem, essay, story or novel won’t write itself.

Practice makes perfect.

The writing workshop friend or foe?

The workshop. This is the class us MFA’s covet. It’s why we spend hours and days applying to grad school. It’s the deadlines of workshop that force some of us to even write at all. So why have I hated workshops this past year?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot. As an undergraduate I was obsessed with the workshop. It was fun, not that much work s far as reading was concerned, and the energy in the classroom was positive and helpful. It was in these workshops that the best classroom discussion as a student happened. When I started grad school this fall, I was stoked to have a workshop in my schedule. While this workshop was not terrible, it wasn’t satisfying. I never left feeling the way I do when I eat a delicious cheeseburger and fries. I left class as if having eaten a mediocre salad from a place like Applebee’s. Some nights of this fall workshop, I felt as if I’d ordered dessert, but usually it was just the salad.

This spring, I was enrolled in two workshops that I will say were both even bigger disappointments than the fall workshop. One of course was better than other, but the one that sucked the most sucked for many reasons, I’ve been trying to decipher. Knowing what the issues were can only help make me a better student and hopefully future teacher of the workshop.

One of the workshops was a novel workshop. This was the one that didn’t suck as bad as the poetry one. The issue with novel workshop was that our professor, I felt, didn’t ask  us  enough questions during discussion. It would either be what this professor thought, and three or four students leading the discussion. The amount of suggestions to improve our work was minimal and these suggestions ,as the course progressed, became contradictory. For instance, the first installment I submitted I was told, by the class and my professor to slow down, and be more description then when the second installment that was workshopped, I was told I had used too much description. I was confused, but decided I was the writer and would do as I pleased.

Poetry workshop this past spring was a nightmare. It was nothing but a bunch of poets and their egos, including the professor. While I will say I was fortunate to receive helpful suggestions from my professor and two or three classmates in general the workshop discussions centered around two or three students who dominated discussion. These students didn’t offer advice just insults, saying things like, ” I can’t get anything out of this poem,” and “this poem is too descriptive, it makes me nauseous.” These are really comments not embelished, just truth.

There was always a negative and awkward energy in this poetry workshop and by the end of the spring, I had decided that having two more workshops left was a Godsend because I was over the workshop atmosphere. I had signed up for the summer workshop being offered simply to fulfill graduation requirements.

Here’s the thing, last night we workshopped for the first time, and while I wasn’t the one being workshopped I still felt satisfied. It was wonderful. Everyone was positive and had wonderful suggestions. The criticisms were well thought out and not said offensively and the writers didn’t take offense to what was said. It was a circle of happiness, and for the first time in grad school I’m looking forward to workshop. I’ve fallen in love with workshop all over again.

After leaving class so satisfied I tried to figure out why it had been such a great class. You know, really analyze it to death and remove the magic from it. I’ve decided it’s the professor who is running it. This professor, while super structured demands that we hand in written comments as part of our grade, and has a structure for these comments. Because there is so much structure the questions the professor asks lead to people making really helpful suggestions.

I am being workshopped on Tuesday and can’t wait. I’m looking forward to getting advice then rushing home and making alterations and adding to this summer project. It’s so nice to take a class or start a project that reminds you why you’re doing what you’re doing in the first place. Last night and these past two or three days have been like that for me, I’ve been reminded why I am in an MFA program and why I love to write.

A Poem

I started to write this as a joke while I sat  in class, but I liked the concept and finished it. I would love some feedback on it. Suggestions for improvement, what you think about it.

Emotional Cheeseburger

(copyright www.onemeanmfa.wordpress.com)


I cried once,

eating a Wendy’s dollar menu cheeseburger.

My hunger palpable.

The pangs banging against

the inner lining of my belly.




I’m fucking starving, I kept thinking.

Had you asked me what starvation was

I would have answered,




We sat in the drive-through




I want my damn burger,

Give it to me.

I need the meat.



We drove, the car smelled like

potatoes drenched in reused oil and refrigeration.

Give it to me.


It was passed over

white paper bags and

cardboard potato holders.

The smell: greasy paper wrapped meat nestled

between white bleached bread

soaked with condiments and a meaty residue.


One bite

So satisfied

The lettuce ripped apart by


Meat, pickles, and ketchup

Ground together bringing tears to my eyes.


Copyright: www.onemeanmfa.wordpress.com


Thanks again for the feedback, in advance.

SHHHHH, it’s a secret

I received news today that I’m going to be published. The news came via email while I was in the office, which is an open space with old desks and crappy computers that all the TA’s share and instead of jumping up and screaming like a nut who won the lottery I quickly logged out of my email account grabbed my things and left the office so I could make two phone calls.

Something inside me told me I shouldn’t tell anyone in my program about this. I don’t know why I felt, feel, this way but I think it was a good idea nevertheless. My Facebook status says nothing about it which makes it seem unofficial, but regardless I’m not going to say a word.

As I sat in class, which was impossible to focus in, I thought about why I wanted to keep this good news quiet. The snobbery and arrogance that runs rampant in the program has made me well aware of negative energy and bad thoughts.

I believe so strongly in people having energy that actually effects people around them. For instance, gossip is a negative energy that is sent towards the people who are being spoken about. Jealousy is also a negative vibe. I don’t think it’s smart to let people with this kind of dark mentality to think green and black thoughts about you. I believe this is sort of where the idea of “keep your friends close, your enemies closer” stems from. Someone who is jealous and doesn’t like you is at an advantage knowing good and bad things about you because it presents them with the opportunity to use this information to sabotage you.

I know this sounds a little bit “conspiracy theory” like, but it is true. I always wonder if my competitive and nasty colleagues are thinking horrible thoughts, if these negative thoughts enter my space and effect my universe. It could right?

Maybe deep down I believe in telepathic powers and don’t want my colleagues who are openly competitive and openly condescending to me to use these powers towards me. I instead will use my silence to counter their negative thoughts towards me and keep building that CV.

Your thoughts? Do I sound like a nut?


p.s. I’m soooo excited! My first publication, hopefully of many!