It’s rainy today, and the sky is grey and opaque, making it appear endless, and if it stayed this way forever you would never think of what was above, for that would seem to be it. I have only gotten out of bed to eat a piece of pumpkin chocolate chip bread and coffee and lunch, and I’ve spent the better part of the morning working on a new story as a sort of cathartic exercise, in addition to a lovely new fantasy story that I will try to work on this afternoon. This “experimental” piece is not autobiographical per say, but I used myself as a springboard and what followed has been a deep well of a story; I am only swimming at its surface at the moment.
After a few hours or so of writing, I took a break and went online, and spent a good time perusing Colombia and NYU’s MFA writing programs (and also Cambridge’s eek). I can tell you this: I am enamored with the idea of going, in every single way.
First, school in general is the closest thing to a portal fantasy in real life that you will ever get, because it is the furthest thing from real life. In school, I am fully present. I am reading the text at hand, I am writing my thoughts, and I am discussing and analyzing these thoughts with my peers. I soak up my professor’s lecture (an absolute expert on the given book or subject, usually), and I take notes, and the notes travel from my ears to my hand and back up my arm and into my mind, where they sit for a while. Learning is magical, because when something clicks, the effect is immediate, and it seems as if a new synapse has been born.
I love school. I miss the syllabi I would get at the start of each quarter, with handpicked works from the top of the page to the bottom. I was told what to read and when, and it made me read, for I had to put away other distractions in order to focus and excel. This is harder for me today. Today I make excuses and do not always allow myself to lounge and read and learn. I tried to start a book club and it had initial success, but eventually it failed, and I miss having thought-provoking discussions about a piece of literature. So much is born in those conversations, and it just isn’t the same as reading a static analysis online.
(This December, I will attempt to have a Yule party filled with poetry, and I will hopefully get my thoughtful, analysis-fix, then).
I want to go to graduate school because it would seem to stop time. I could fully immerse myself in reading and writing, and I would have two extremely productive years doing just that. I would also get to change my scenery, and write in a cozy, red brick building or a huge, white university library, surrounded my books. I might also get the chance to teach, which I did a bit in college and which I loved and believe is so fulfilling. And besides all of those “important” reasons: I would have an incredible amount of fun!
Now, why not to go: I do not need graduate school to write. It is expensive. I have intrinsic motivation and have already written two novel-length stories, a feature-length screenplay, a multitude of short stories, and I am simultaneously working on two new stories right now. So, I know that no matter what, I make time to write and I get it done. However, sometimes I feel like I’m not in it enough, like there are far too many distractions for me (my job, friends, social media, working out, grocery shopping) to fully immerse myself. I do believe graduate school would help minimize these, and the support of a community of writers as well as professors could help propel my writing to a new level, perhaps more than I could do on my own.
And another thing, I do not know if I will have any success getting published on my own (I begin querying on Monday, by the way). What if I query for two more years, and still, nothing? Graduate school would help me sharpen my skills in a timely fashion.
The other negatives: maybe I do not get accepted to my school of choice. I would graduate pretty broke. I have a boyfriend who I adore and what would we do, if I went to New York? I also want to have a family, and that goal gets pushed farther and father into the future the longer I’m in school (re: financial stability).
Today on Instagram, of all places, I saw a post of one of my friends who recently had more of her sleeve (tattoo) finished, inspired by The Bell Jar, which I am also re-reading at the moment. And there’s a quote, that is so perfectly relatable to me
write right now, and Ms. Plath is much more eloquent at saying the words that I wish to say than I am, so I’ll let her say it:
“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”