Acknowledgements

Y’all know that I am finishing my graduate school thesis. That’s all I seem to talk about on here.

At this point, I’m about 90% done with the thesis and 90% done the preface for the thesis.

I am 0% done with the abstract, 0% done with the acknowledgements page and 0% done with the bibliography. I do think the abstract and bibliography will be relatively easy though.

The acknowledgements though? It scares me. Why? Because I am too grateful. I don’t know where to start. I don’t even know if there is a limit to the amount of pages I can include for this section. I’m thankful for every moment I wrote about in my thesis. I’m thankful for ever person who influenced the manuscript. I’m thankful for all the schools that denied my fiction application when I applied as an undergraduate even though it broke my heart. I’m grateful for the nonfiction graduate class I signed up for at Umass Dartmouth even though I wasn’t a student, just to get my writing juices flowing. I’m grateful for Christina McCarroll who taught the class and all the amazing students who read and helped me hone my nonfiction craft (I’d never written a lick on nonfiction before this!). The two main stories I wrote in this class became my application for the seven graduate schools I applied to. I’m beyond grateful for being accepted to every one of those graduate schools. That is by far one of my favorite life moments. I was so proud of myself. I’m so thankful for Michael White, my program director. Fairfield was tied for first place on my wish list with two other schools. I’m grateful that Michael recognized my talent and was the first school to accept me (only a few days after receiving my application). I’m fortunate for all the students I met in my graduate school career. I couldn’t begin to thank them for their encouragement, their suggestions on my stories. I’m beyond thankful to the MFA gods for giving me Phil as a big brother and Daisy as a little sister in the program. I’m still thankful for earning the Trueblood Award my first residency (now called the Truben Award) and also for being voted the graduation speaker this last residency. I am eternally grateful to all of my mentors: Lary Bloom, Joan Connor, Porochista Khakpour and Kim Dana Kupperman who worked one on one with me over my four semesters. For the teachers who guided my workshops: Kim, Lary, Da Chen, Leila Philip, Baron Wormser, and Marita Golden- their guidance unearthed some of my best impromptu writing, all of which made it into my final thesis. I’m grateful that Baron will be my second reader for my thesis, and I cannot wait to hear him read my words as I walk across the stage to accept my diploma. I’m thankful that Fairfield led me to Phil (my big bro), Trueblood (yep, the award was named after him) and Linsey, as we formed the Masshole Writers Group. The stories I’ve written have changed sometimes very dramatically with their suggestions. Plus, we go out to eat when we critique each other’s work and I love food. I’m grateful for GChat, which allowed me to brainstorm with my school friends at times I might not have been able to easily communicate. I’m grateful for everything Ender’s Island. That place is the perfect place to study creative writing. That island will always be one of my favorite places and it as a place has truly opened me up. I’m actually thankful that I broke my foot on the island during my third residency. It taught me to rely on others, something I don’t know I ever really knew how to do. I am so glad to have worked on Mason’s Road, Fairfield MFA’s literary journal since my first semester. I was a nonfiction reader for three issues and this semester I am serving as the co-editor with my incredible MFA little sis, Daisy. Mason’s Road has greatly impacted my writing. Reading other people’s work is a great way to expand your knowledge and to see first hand what works and what doesn’t work. It has helped me critique and edit my own work. I am eternally grateful to the people outside of the program who have supported or assisted me in any way. I have to thank Kate for editing assistance. I’m thankful for all my friends who encouraged me, or scheduled plans around my busy schedule. I’m grateful for my family for not only encouraging me, but also being characters in my manuscript. I’m thankful for Mr. O’s family and friends who understood if I wasn’t able to go to dinners or get-togethers because I was too busy writing. I’m grateful for Wolverine’s excitement about graduation and the amount of homework we both have to do. He graduates Kindergarten in June (and he still is quite shocked that he graduates before me!) and my graduation is in July. Not only that, but I have to thank Wolverine for completely changing my life. The combination of school and Wolverine in my life has taught me more than I ever could learn about forgiveness and parenting. He has opened me up to selfless unconditional love. He’s helped me learn and grow, and I love him so much for that. I couldn’t end here without acknowledging the person who has probably been my main support throughout this whole experience: Mr. O. I’m thankful for all the times he cooked dinner or cleaned up the apartment or went places without me all so that I could write. I’m grateful for the times he sternly told me to do my homework– he’s the best dad. I’m thankful for the suggestions and perspective he gave me on my writing. I’m thankful that he’s honest and willing to tell me something doesn’t work, or he doesn’t get the point I’m going for. I’m glad he doesn’t judge what I say as he’s probably the only non-school person to read the stories. But besides the actual work, I’m so grateful that he supported me emotionally as well. He pushed me when I wanted to give up, he held and kissed me when it all felt too overwhelming (and then he made me stop crying and start writing.) The biggest thing he did was always keep put things into perspective for me.

Can I acknowledge myself? I’ve written what is now a 114 page manuscript (that could change a bit before May 1st). Wow. That my friends doesn’t account for all the other numerous pages I’ve written and revised in the past two years. It doesn’t account for my preface, for my craft essays, for my graduation speech. It doesn’t account for my class I’ll teach. It doesn’t account for the notes I’ve taken, the stories I’ve started but never finished. I’ve completed (almost) a manuscript, and I need to pat myself on the back as well. Good job, Erin.  I’m proud of you.

Well, I guess acknowledging wasn’t as scary as I thought it could be. Now all I need to do is edit, remove the zillion adverbs and it looks like I might be at least 90% done on my acknowledgment section as well.

fixing this will be a christmas miracle

Days Until 2012: viaWordPress and I are in a fight. Yup, I said it. FIGHT.

  • My most lovely friend from Her New Deal was kind enough to let me know my comments weren’t working (via twitter). Still don’t know how to fix that one, but I’m thinking an update/reinstall will help. I’ll save that for later tonight.
  • The connection between my WordPress for iPhone and the WordPress computer version is flukey, which is so irritating! I don’t get it either, because I have never ever had a problem with it until maybe about 3 or 4 days ago. It started posting pictures, but not the content I wrote to go with the pictures. And then yesterday, I had no pictures in my post, but I had typed up a decent sized post on my phone and it didn’t publish any of the words! (Thank goodness I recognized that during the day, so I could shoot out a quick post on my computer and I didn’t mess up my NaBloPoMo).
  • If you have a chance, swing by the blog and check it out (I’m assuming many of you read through some type of RSS reader. I’ve updated the posts for the past couple days with the missing content.

Enough whining. Let’s chat. Happy holidays folks. I hope you are all fully enjoying this season of holidays. I love that there are so many different types of celebrations depending on beliefs at this time. I love to learn about different religions or different customs. I’m a forever student. I want to constantly be learning.

Last night my Masshole Writers Group met to critique each others writing and do a holiday book swap. I’m super pumped to have been given a novel to read. With all these deadlines and requirements happening for school, I don’t read very often, but since I was given the book as a gift, you better believe I will read it!

I’m so fortunate to have such great friends. My Masshole friends, my blog friends, my school friends, my “real life” friends, etc.

the old and the new

source

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12 Days Until 2012!

This is what I originally intended to appear on the blog on 12/20: I am one wild and crazy critiquing machine. Besides the 12 essays and 7 poems I need to read and critique (not including any of the seminars) for this upcoming residency, well there are three more submissions I need to prepare for tonight! I’m not complaining though, I love this. Tonight the Masshole Writers will be coming over for a buffet of Chinese food and an evening of writing discussion. It’s always a good time with these guys. We get off topic about every 5 to 6 seconds (something my brain is quite used to). It is a night I really cherish having every month. Two of the writers will be graduating the MFA program in a week or two (I can’t keep my dates straight) so I hope they continue meeting with us. We’re doing a book swap tonight, and I keep forgetting to wrap my book. Sigh.

This is what did originally post: Is anyone else having trouble with WordPress on their Iphones? For the past three days, I’ve been having trouble when I upload/change things on my phone….Today the whole post didn’t show up, but it posted a blank post…. What the heck?

just thinking…

  • So last week I wrote about a horrible man, whom I thought was a pretty evil character. Mr. O was kind enough to send me this article about an even more horrible human being, so I figured I would share it with you.
  • My MFA Big Brother Phil has put me to shame. When he first started blogging, he asked me if I had any suggestions. My advice was: Write often. Who cares if you think that you have nothing to say, just say anything…eventually you’ll have a lot to say. Well, folks. At this point, Phil’s blog has evolved into what I’d like to call a Rock Star Blog. He’s posting pretty much every day, and people get upset with him when he doesn’t say anything. I think I have to take some of my own advice.
  • Two nights ago I had three wonderful humans come to my house for a writing group. We’re called the Masshole Writers, and I’m so grateful to be part of such a rad team. When we get together we chow down; this time we had a Chinese and Lebanese food buffet. Then we settle into workshop mode and go over each other’s submissions. There are two fiction writers, a poet, and me- the nonfiction writer. It is refreshing to workshop with writers out of your own genre.
  • Woah, I don’t think I made a super amazing announcement on my blog yet! (What the hell is wrong with me?) Porochista Khakpour will be my new faculty mentor for this semester. (Cue the parade and confetti and balloons!) I am F-ing PUMPED, folks. I’ve always admired Porochista, but assumed that because she was hired as a faculty member for the fiction genre, I wouldn’t get the chance to have her as a mentor. Well, this is just another lesson that nothing is impossible. I’m fortunate to be in my 3rd semester now for graduate school, and we spend the majority of the next few months working on a “project.” I needed a spunky, funny, enthusiastic teacher to advise me this semester and Porochista is my gal. I’ll give you details about the project in a future post, because I might even need your help!
  • Mr. O and I want to go on a mini vacation in September, but our choices are very limited. Both of our birthdays are next month, which also happens to be Hurricane Season. So cancel almost all southern states and Caribbean locations. Any suggestions?
  • On Friday, I’ll be attending my last wedding of 2011. I am pretty excited because I have a dark purple dress I have been DYING to wear somewhere. One of my close friends from high school is getting married to a fabulous guy. I’ve heard this is going to be a good time. Can’t wait to find out.

comfort

Good morning, folks. It’s 3:00am and I cannot quite get back to sleep.

I read my first two books of the semester. I’m hoping to write the craft essays for them today. I want to get some creative writing done too. I know I still have a little while until my first packet is due to my mentor, but I joined a new writing group, and I also need material for that. I toyed with taking an extra semester in grad school- an option we have so that we can build our manuscript- but after thinking about it long and hard, I’d ideally like to graduate with my own class. I’m still open to staying for an extra semester, but as of right this second, my goal is to graduate in July of 2012. So soon! Didn’t I just start graduate school? Anyway, my original point was that I need some creative material for my mentor as well as my new writers group. Both are going to be due within a week of each other, so technically I could use the same stuff, but I think thats cheating myself a bit. I’d ideally like to submit some first drafts to my writing group and then have a month to revise and rework them before I send them out to my mentor. Which makes this time- the first submission for both entities- double the work. I think that is why I am a bit nervous. I just feel as if this is the semester where I should really constantly be pushing out new material. I don’t even care so much about whether its good or bad. I just want to have options. I’m concerned that my ideas for a third semester project are going to leave me little time to submit creative work to my mentor, and the fourth semester is going to really be about putting together a manuscript, not starting from scratch.

I haven’t decided yet whether or not I plan to write a collection of essays or a full memoir for my thesis. I don’t see a direction for a complete manuscript. I think I feel a little more comfortable writing a series of connected essays, but that is what makes me nervous. If there is anything I have aimed to do in graduate school it has been to shy away from my comfort level. And that has only brought me wonderful gifts: the Trueblood Award, becoming the Nonfiction Student Representative, amazing friends…. I think about that all the time sometimes, about these people I’ve met through school. It has only been about 6 months that I’ve known my classmates and teachers, yet I have some really strong connections with some of them and deeply care about many of them. Just six months. Isn’t that amazing?

When I broke my foot during this past residency so many people just swooped in to take care of me. Of course that left me feeling a bit uncomfortable. I mean, I have no problem being the center of attention, but I’m familiar with being the caretaker roll, not the person who needs to be taken care of. Again- the same issue- my comfort level. Yes, having everyone concerned about me made me a bit nervous. And yes, I did try to keep a “tough guy” act going. “I’m fine; no big deal” I’d tell them. But many of them saw right through that. My friends let me feel as independent as possible, and then always seemed to be waiting in the shadows and ready when I needed them. I’m in love with my friends. Its true. I’ve been blessed with some of the most kind, caring, funny, pain in the ass, sarcastic, open, talented, opinionated, free spirited, wonderful, fantastic friends in graduate school. When I was trying to figure out where to go to school, just one short year ago, I read a quote by Elizabeth Hilts on the Fairfield website. She said, “It’s like finding my tribe.” She is exactly right. It is just like finding my tribe. When I started the program, a friend commented that maybe I would “meet” my special someone at school. I don’t think this is exactly what she meant by that, but I did. I met many very special someones.

Like I was saying previously, I’m not sure whether I will choose to do my thesis in essays or attempt a full memoir, but I’m going to just “trust in the process.” I’ve always gotten exactly what I needed. More importantly, I’ve always made the best decisions for myself with school in mind.