Marginalia, Graduate Blog

Hall Chat: Summer Organization & Revision

Jenn Tatum

I’ve been writing a lot this week, and I’m pretty sure it began with organizing the “My Documents” section on my computer. After the purchase of a new computer, during the busy Spring semester, things in that file had gotten absolutely out of control. I had duplicates of almost everything on my external hard drive, as well as documents saved in various places on my computer. As I began going through and putting everything into it’s own folder, ( And, may I say that there is nothing more rewarding than creating a new folder.) I sifted through old poems from Undergrad and essays that I had started during the first semester of Grad school. Rereading through all of my old work definitely got me geared up for writing again, mostly because some of it made me think, “Goodgod why did I submit that for workshop?” or,  even worse, “Oh man, remember when I sent that out as a submission to a literary journal?” Yikes!

But that is, after all, what Graduate School and continually writing and having a second set (and third, and fourth) of eyes look at your work is about. Grad School affords you the time to learn about the writing process, to grow as a writer, and to have continued support while doing so.

So, as I’ve been revising and writing new essays, I’ve been scouring through comments from my professors and peers, and writing completely new work based on those comments, instead of just simply revising what I’ve already written. I’m constantly amazed by the comments I receive and the insight from my peers and the faculty in the Nonfiction program. Receiving feedback from such brilliant minds has been so rewarding for me as a writer and has taught me so much in the two years that I have been at Columbia.

When I look back on the work that I submitted to literary journals prior to starting my MFA, I shudder. But, there must have been something there in those first few lines of poetry and clustered paragraphs of essay, because here I am. But still, I shudder. Some of it is pretty darn terrible, but at the same time lovely to look back through as I organized all of my documents.

And now that I’m organized, I’ve begun submitting my work again, something that I haven’t done in a few months — well almost a year, with the exception of a recent publication in Columbia Poetry Review, for which I am very grateful and excited about. In a previous post, I mentioned some of my favorite journals, and I have recently been visiting the New Pages website for updates on writing contests and calls for submissions, as well as perusing the Duotrope website for journals that accept Poetry and Nonfiction. The strange thing about most journals is that they don’t accept summer submissions, mostly due to the fact that a large number of journals are associated with a school and only accept submissions from September through May, during the school year. That’s not to say that you can’t submit anywhere, because you certainly can, but I am definitely sprucing everything up for that September 1st deadline and gearing up for this next semester of revising, generating, and submitting my work. (And, hopefully, keeping “My Documents” folder as clean and tidy as it is now. I’ll keep you posted on how that all works out.).

Hall Chat: Summer Organization & Revision

I’ve been writing a lot this week, and I’m pretty sure it began with organizing the “My Documents” section on my computer. After the purchase of a new computer, during …

Creative Writing - Nonfiction MFA Jenn Tatum, jtatumcotamagana@colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

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