Last night I handed in my last packet for my first term of graduate school. In the past five months, I have read 24 books - most of them monster classics. Some I loved, some I…did not love. I have also written eight annotations, five creative nonfiction essays about whatever I felt like (roughly 115 pages of prose in total), and one ten-page term paper.
I played around with scheduling. Tried to crash and burn through weekends. Tried to write at night (fail). Learned the only way to do this thing is to get up at 5 am or so and write before work. I have received mountains of criticism, the kind that makes you want to shrivel up and die inside. But, towards the end there was some encouragement. It felt like oxygen.
There is the sensation that this entire first term was a huge dress rehearsal, a ramping up. It was filled with the sense of just figuring this thing out. And now that it’s over, I feel ready to actually begin.
In ten days, I go back up to Bennington to residency number two. I imagine my class will look and feel the same as me - a little less bright, less shiny, more war-torn and haggard. But perhaps still in love with it. And maybe that means, ready to get down to the fucking work.
Not until you’ve tried to do something is it possible to really respect how hard it is, I am finding. Writing well is hard. I want to be better at it. That’s it; I have no ambitions other than that. I just want to be better, to be maybe someday “good” at this thing that I love.
The love, so far, is enough to pull me through. Even though I have hit moments of exhaustion so deep I could weep about it.
But as hard as this is, I’m choosing it. And it was harder to live a life without it, somehow. So no complaining. Just get to fucking work.
Jeanne DuPrau, The City of Ember
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Nothing more exhilarating…than saving yourself by the simple act of waking.
—Junot Díaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (via larmoyante)