Marginalia, Graduate Blog

What does a thesis meeting look like?

by Parker Stockman

If you’re wondering what a thesis meeting looks like, here’s a bit of the process.

1) You go to your zen place and you write. I like to write in my family room that is covered in candles or in my office area where I have a dancing baby Groot from the movie Guardians of the Galaxy. I like to have fun little toys in my work space so I can get a little distracted, but not enough so as that I don’t write.

2) You turn in pages to your advisor and he or she takes a few weeks to read the pages and make comments. I always email my pages in addition to printing up a hard copy and delivering it to my advisor. Ask what he or she prefers in terms of font size and type.

3) Your advisor contacts you and the two of you find a date and time that work for both of you to speak.

4) You meet your advisor. The meeting lasts anywhere from an hour to five hours. I don’t think any of my meetings have lasted fewer than three hours. My advisor is Ann Hemenway. She’s great! Our meetings usually start with a bit of catching up. You get really close with your advisor, so you both want to do a little bit of talking about where you are at, what you’ve been doing work-wise, school-wise, life-wise, and then you start talking about the work. I can’t wait to tell Ann about my recent storytelling experiences. Below is a photo of me at You’re Being Ridiculous’ show during the Fillet of Solo event on January 17th.

5) When you talk about your work, I always have a copy for yourself on which to take notes. I sometimes print out a full copy of the work or just the pages I turned in. My thesis just hit 400 pages, so I’m not turning in work again until the whole book is done. Make sure to make meticulous notes. Ann tells me what she likes, what is really working, what is confusing, what she doesn’t think is working, and what she has questions about. She tells me what she thinks I should cut, what parts she thinks are long-winded, where she thinks I can expand, etc. My manuscript comes away colored in ink from various pens.

6) Go home and push forward. I take the tactic of knowing what changes I will make and keeping those in my head as I push forward with writing. I wait to revise until later.

7) Write about 50-100 pages—try to make a big chunk—and repeat the process.

What does a thesis meeting look like?

If you’re wondering what a thesis meeting looks like, here’s a bit of the process. 1) You go to your zen place and you write. I like to write in …

Creative Writing - Fiction MFA Parker Stockman, parker.stockman@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

Moving to the Windy City was the Scariest but Best Thing I Have Ever Done

by Devon Marti

As the recently new ambassador to Columbia College Chicago’s Journalism MA program, I have noticed a common question in the emails I have received from the prospective students applying to our program.

This question is, “How have you adjusted to life in Chicago?”

While the answer may seem like a no-brainer, because I have had great opportunities in Columbia’s journalism program thus far, I was without words, as I realized I had not yet asked myself this question.

Moving to the Windy City was the Scariest but Best Thing I Have Ever Done

As the recently new ambassador to Columbia College Chicago’s Journalism MA program, I have noticed a common question in the emails I have received from the prospective students applying to …

Journalism MA Devon Marti, devon.marti@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

Return to Roots…

by Dustin Seelinger

Last night I made the long drive out to Dekalb to visit my undergraduate campus, Northern Illinois University. I went there to see a lecture by Claire Sherman, a painter whose abstracted landscapes have been favorites of mine. The lecture was great and was very insightful to Sherman’s process. It was one of those lectures where the artist does a great job of showing where they were and where they are now and where they are heading. It kind of seemed like a analogy for something…

Return to Roots…

Last night I made the long drive out to Dekalb to visit my undergraduate campus, Northern Illinois University. I went there to see a lecture by Claire Sherman, a painter …

Interdisciplinary Book & Paper Arts MFA Dustin Seelinger, dustin.seelinger@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

J-Term Hibernation

by Steph Jurusz

Ice Forest

One of the perks of attending Columbia College Chicago is a little thing called J-Term. During J-Term accelerated classes are offered in certain departments (mostly undergrad) allowing the ambitious to get some extra credits in before the semester begins, or, if you’re like many students who opt out, giving students a longer winter break to recover, recoup, and prepare for a new term. Plus, it happens during the more brutal part of Chicago winters, which is always a plus on those days when you just can’t imagine dragging yourself downtown for class.

J-Term Hibernation

One of the perks of attending Columbia College Chicago is a little thing called J-Term. During J-Term accelerated classes are offered in certain departments (mostly undergrad) allowing the ambitious to …

Creative Writing - Nonfiction MFA Steph Jurusz, stephanie.jurusz@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

Ms. Crone

by Jeni Crone

Art Ed Ladies at NYCH Gallery

Student teaching starts next week (1/20/15), and I suppose the biggest adjustment is going to be not seeing my Cohort three nights a week. After a jam-packed week at home for the holidays I returned to Chicago to get in just enough time with friends to make for a fulfilling break before I came down with the flu. I spent the first four days of the new year in my apartment, ravaging Netflix, and after eight years living in the city I had my groceries delivered for the first time. After some bizarre NyQuil induced dreams set in my high school and the condo my grandparents owned in Florida, and next to no human interaction for a few days, I was more than happy to return to class on January 5th.

Ms. Crone

Student teaching starts next week (1/20/15), and I suppose the biggest adjustment is going to be not seeing my Cohort three nights a week. After a jam-packed week at home …

Education - Visual Arts MAT Jeni Crone, jennifer.crone@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

2015: Perspective

by Katie Sponseller

IMG_5798

Sunset at the National Park – Mumbai, India

“I really want to change the world. I feel like I’ve been put here or my purpose here is to change the world and I know the only way to do that is through my thinking.”

They say that the first several days of a New Year are predictive of what to expect in the coming twelve months. If that is the case then I believe this next year will be one of great change, learning, and action. I am currently spending my first weeks of 2015 in Mumbai, India where a classmate of mine is shooting her thesis film and the change of setting has already shown me a greater education than anything else in my life.

2015: Perspective

“I really want to change the world. I feel like I’ve been put here or my purpose here is to change the world and I know the only way to …

Cinema Art + Science - Creative Producing MFA Katie Sponseller, katie.sponseller@gmail.com
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

A Peaceful J-Term

by Kaity Sinke

Chicago Lakefront courtesy of "hotspotjournal.com"

Chicago Lakefront courtesy of “hotspotjournal.com”

After a wonderfully long and luxurious holiday break at home with my family, it was finally time for me to head back to the windy city. However, I haven’t come back to start my coursework quite yet—J-Term is a wonderful time of the year in which we have the month of January free, with the opportunity to utilize the time however we see fit. Last J-Term, I used the time to take some of our departmental electives, and continue nannying. This J-Term however, I came back for my clients.

A Peaceful J-Term

After a wonderfully long and luxurious holiday break at home with my family, it was finally time for me to head back to the windy city. However, I haven’t come …

Dance/Movement Therapy & Counseling MA Kaity Sinke, kaitysinke@gmail.com
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

Look Back (and up!) You Might Be Able to See the Future: Happy Saturn in Sagittarius!

by Jennifer Ligaya

Photo Credit: Quantumphoenix.net/ Mani Novasothy

Photo Credit: Quantumphoenix.net/
Mani Novasothy

Great 2015 to everyone. All of the winter holidays have passed.  It’s about the time for the spring semester to begin…

Look Back (and up!) You Might Be Able to See the Future: Happy Saturn in Sagittarius!

Great 2015 to everyone. All of the winter holidays have passed.  It’s about the time for the spring semester to begin…

Interdisciplinary Arts MA Jennifer Ligaya, jennifer.ligaya@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

The After Life

by Justin Grogan

Garfield Park Conservatory

It is my last semester at Columbia College Chicago and I’m suddenly faced with the rearing head of the monster we all like to forget—the job market. As I’m on my last Christmas break, I have explored the city of Chicago, done fun things like nature walking (in winter) through the beautiful Garfield Conservatory (featured above), and even just got back from vacation to the magnificent city of New Orleans. But this whole time I have also been fretting over the return to the job hunt, and I can imagine it is a big concern for anyone else looking to get their MFA in poetry.

The After Life

It is my last semester at Columbia College Chicago and I’m suddenly faced with the rearing head of the monster we all like to forget—the job market. As I’m on …

Creative Writing - Poetry MFA Justin Grogan, jgrogan@colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

Print This: A Survey of the Difficult Business of Self-Publishing

by Joshua C. Robinson

Photo: Joshua C. Robinson December 2014 Vail, CO Self-Publishing can be a barren wasteland of disappointment, or maybe it'll pay for your lift ticket at a ski resort

Photo: Joshua C. Robinson
December 2014
Vail, CO
Self-Publishing can be a barren wasteland of disappointment, or maybe it’ll pay for your lift ticket at a ski resort.

Amazon, IngramSpark, Indiebound and any number of other groups provide low or no cost ways to publish yourself and/or advice on doing so. One of the intentions of the growing theatre company that my fiancee and I have started is to create plays through improvisation, and out of curiosity to see how that process could be streamlined, the stage to the page process that is. To test this idea, I self published a book of poems.

I’m not going to post the link to it here, because I’m terrible at self-promotion, and I don’t like doing it. Instead, I’m going to talk about the process and tools that are available to self-publishing authors, the business risks involved, and how I assume you have to promote in order to maximize the revenue and impact of your published work.

Use Your Resources

Each of the publishing houses offer a number of tools to track the progress and success, or lack thereof of your book. They also offer tools for formatting and developing the physical content itself. Amazon, the target of much ire as of late by my very favorite comedian Stephen Colbert and a legion of authors, publishes through createspace.com, and Kindle Direct Publishing.

The tools available to you through these platforms include a royalty reporting process, a Nielsen Bookscan report, as well as a graph of your author and book rank on amazon updated hourly. IngramSpark, which I have not yet used, includes a report tied to the Ingram database which gives real time stock and sales information.

Ingram, by the by, is one of the world’s largest distributors of print books in the world, so that access can be invaluable. There are also copy editing tools (I probably should have used these), designing services, marketing services and more. If you truly DIY, you can create, publish, and distribute a book for exactly $0, which is a pretty nice price if you ask me.

Publish or Perish, or Perish Anyway

So just getting your book out there is not going to sell copies, that much is obvious, but one of the biggest problems with self-publishing is that all the distribution and marketing contracts and resources are automatic, and mostly the same for everyone who does it. The upshot of this is that you get limited distribution push, marketing is mainly a you and you alone thing, and your reports are going to be delayed, confusing, and hard to utilize.

You might have written the next great novel, but if you self publish you are going to be doing a lot of leg work yourself. On the flip side, it’s a potentially low cost way to get a very professional portfolio piece out there and in your hands. Sometimes books will sell so well that big name publishers pay attention and might pick up your work, or so I’ve read. No matter what, be sure that the publishing process: A. allows you to retain rights, and B. is non-exclusive, allowing you to publish somewhere else if the opportunity arises.

Photo: Joshua C. Robinson December 2014 You gotta elevate your book game man!

Photo: Joshua C. Robinson
December 2014
You gotta elevate your book game man! Maybe add music?

Winning the Book Game

I haven’t done most of the following action items because for the most part I published the book as an exercise, and because I was promised inclusion in an anthology with the now published work, and that never came to fruition.

  1. Write a blog and link your book, constantly.
  2. Get a legitimate review, from your journalist friends, anyone who writes for any magazine or newspaper, and see if it can be published on their blog or preferably in print and online, then link away.
  3. Post like mad about your book, talk about your book, give physical copies of your book away for a fraction of the price to friends and family.
  4. Put together a marketing plan, either a book launch party and onward or a soft launch followed by a big launch and a continued marketing plan.
  5. Like your book and talk it up to everyone you know in the least annoying way possible.
  6. Collect every link that mentions your book on your personal website in some way.

Words of Caution

Self-publishing is fascinating and a definitive way to get a physical product in the hands of friends, family, and hopefully strangers. However, it can result in some tricky conversations if you ever do get a brick and mortar publishing house interested in your work. They might balk at the published work, or worse at you as an author. This is certainly less of a problem than it use to be, but it’s something to consider. Also, and this is important, you won’t get rich self-publishing probably ever; your odds of fame and fortune through self-publishing are roughly the same as winning the lottery, but at least the ticket can be free.

If you have something that you want to publish and it really has no other place, nor will ever have the potential to be picked up by a publishing house, either because of content, genre, length or any other reason, it’s really the only mass distribution option, and it’s not a bad one.

Self-publishing can take many forms, many of them beautiful and ornate, such as bookmaking, fun and timely, like zine making, and some like publishing online can be easy and personally rewarding. Just make sure you know how you want to author your work, because the most important thing to remember, is that it is your work and no one else’s; make sure you keep it that way.

Print This: A Survey of the Difficult Business of Self-Publishing

Amazon, IngramSpark, Indiebound and any number of other groups provide low or no cost ways to publish yourself and/or advice on doing so. One of the intentions of the growing …

Business & Entrepreneurship MAM Joshua C. Robinson, JoshuaCDRobinson@gmail.com
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605