Friday at 8:30 a.m. I sent “Reconstructing My Mother,” my 226 page manuscript, aka my dissertation, off to the Copy Center where they will print out and coil bind 7 copies for me to distribute to my committee and my colleagues. A part of me is pleased. I have completed the thing that is the last step towards getting my MFA degree. There is a sense of accomplishment to have put together so many words and crafted it into a story. During the past year I was at times overwhelmed, frustrated and proud. Some days I felt “at peace” with the work, confident that no matter what state it was in at the deadline, it would be defensible. Other days I wanted to take another year to work on the manuscript, embarrassed by the clunky prose, the incomplete scenes, the awkward transitions, the vague characterizations.
There is so much work yet to be done. I know that already. There are scenes that I’d written over the last few years that did not make it into this draft, and I want to find a way to fit them in. There are new scenes I want to write. The last chapter that I threw together… at present has only 6 pages to it. It needs more. I’m eager to get back to work on it, but I’m forcing myself to wait, to hear what my committee has to say about it when I defend it on Friday, April 13.
Friday afternoon I attended the first of this season’s dissertation defenses, my colleague Elizabeth Tannen. After the defense we all gathered at Kelly’s a local restaurant/bar with a large patio, and a wait staff accustomed to large raucous parties. On Monday Tanaya will defend, then Suzanne, then me, David, Cassie….
I was wandering around in a daze Saturday morning when my friend Sam texted me, “Wheee!! How you doing? Post pardem depression?”
You see Sam finished her dissertation a year earlier. She knew exactly how I was feeling. It was like post pardem depression in a way. When she asked if I wanted to be left alone, or if I needed company I chose company… and she took me out to lunch. I even made her pick the place, and pick me up. I just couldn’t make a decision. And good friend that she is, she obliged.
I’m still wandering around in a daze, but I’m doing laundry so at least I’m being somewhat productive.
So now what?
I feel at a loss, not sure what to do.
I have other projects to work on:
I need to find a job. I applied for a tech writer position at UNM, and I’m hopeful that I will at the very least get an interview. My cover letter kicked ass! (if I do say so myself). But I’m not naive. And I know that one application does not a serious job search make.
Publishing my work. I could take some of my chapters and craft them into standalone pieces and submit! Like the lottery, ya gotta play to win.
DimeStories. I have a lot of ideas I’d like to work on, the first of which is attending the L.A. Times Book Festival on April 21 where I will get my 3 minutes of fame.
Searching for Rosie. I started this blog in anticipation of my next book. I’ve always thought that the project would be perfect for a grant…
Gift of Freedom Award. The A Room of Her Own foundation grant that has been on hiatus is now available again. the deadline is November, but the application is arduous, not to mention highly competitive… but if I don’t apply I KNOW I won’t get it.
So even with all these projects, I am feeling sad. So many of my friends will be graduating, then leaving: moving back to where they came from, moving on to something else and I don’t know what my life here will look like after May. I have other friends in town, but these colleagues from the program have been such an integral part of my life here, and part of my development as a writer, I can’t help but feel the loss already.