Marginalia, Graduate Blog

Goodbye, Creative Non-Fiction Class: I’ll Miss You

Stephanie Ewing

I still can’t believe it, but I’m finally done with class for the summer — heck, the 2011-2012 school year. I, of course, went out with a bang.

Due to the compressed nature of the 8-week summer session, finals week for Creative Non-Fiction was actually more like finals day, but I was preparing for my last push long before. I kept some real time updates for reference. Feast your eyes on the genuinely thrilling, equally unglamorous, and highly caffeinated reality of grad school.

Day 1: Though wrapping up final projects for journalism finds me treading water in a sea of  interview notes, .PDFs and copies of documents, scraps of paper covered in my cryptic, nearly illegible scribblings, and approximately 22,308,901 open internet browser windows, for Creative Non-Fiction, I constructed a finals environment more reminiscent of my days in academia — the quintessential book cave, cozily decorated with notebooks and empty coffee mugs.

I love writing feature length pieces — or longer — because I can really get into a writing groove. So I’m settled happily into my book cave for five days of project finishing and re-writing.

Day 3: I’m fighting the urge to procrastinate here. I’ve written a ton over the past couple of days, but I’ve still got today (Tuesday), tomorrow (Wednesday), and Thursday morning before work to wrap up loose ends. Plus, I’m sleepy because I went out with the class for a celebratory end-of-semester beer. Maybe some of this writing can wait until tomorrow.. or at least until I take a quick nap. God, I love the Fiction Writing Department.

Day 4, 6:30 p.m.: Why didn’t I write more yesterday? Why?! I am soooooo not finished, not even close on so many of these projects. I’m working on a feature piece about a scuba diving accident on a cursed shipwreck, an instance collection that will (hopefully) form the backbone of a future spiritual memoir, a standalone personal essay about why I write, and a humorous behemoth of an essay about this one (unfortunate) time I was in a beauty pageant.

Maybe I was too ambitious in agreeing to crank out three final projects. Also, I’m not sure how late I’ll be able to stay up. I’m out of diet coke, coffee creamer, and the milk’s gone bad.

12:45 a.m: Getting seriously creeped out. The thunder is roaring away outside and the rain is assaulting our window air conditioner. I’m engrossed in this piece about the cursed shipwreck, then all of a sudden, a flash of lightning crackles past and Gordon Lightfoot’s “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” comes on my Pandora station. Oh man. Time to keep writing.

Day 5: Seventy-nine pages, eight weeks. Not bad for the girl used to cranking out 500 word hard news pieces, right? I’m really proud of my work this summer. I feel like I’m finally finding my real writer’s voice outside of the standard newspaper style I’ve worked hard to cultivate/emulate. Now, for that nap…

Goodbye, Creative Non-Fiction Class: I’ll Miss You

I still can’t believe it, but I’m finally done with class for the summer — heck, the 2011-2012 school year. I, of course, went out with a bang. Due to …

Journalism MA Stephanie Ewing, stephanie.ewing@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

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