Marginalia, Graduate Blog

What Inspires

Jenn Tatum

WARNING: This blog post is a bit sappy. Hey, y’all, I’m graduating, so I can be a little sappy. This April is a bit crueller than most. I am only five weeks away from graduation and even though I’m excited to have my degree, to have my thesis finished and submitted, this time is bittersweet. A lot of changes are ahead. I’m looking for a new apartment and searching for jobs, and realizing that in just a few months, I will be done. My three-year journey will be finished and I will be on to new things.  Chicago’s weather is so fickle. It’s April and I put on my winter coat today as a shield from the wind and rain.

I’ve been staring at my board of inspiration (I know, so cheesy), and it really does inspire. It’s hanging on my wall and it displays some of my favorite trinkets from friends, family and my cohort—trinkets that remind me that this has been a lovely journey, one that was necessary to take, one that has given me so much time to write, to learn and to live in a new city and make new friends.

This is what inspires.

That card there on the left and the picture of me and my two best friends:

The card is of two little girls sloshing around in the mud. It’s from my friend Brit and I just adore the sweetness of the image, the idea of childhood friends. I met my two best friends, Brit and Windy, when I was nineteen. Though they are not “childhood” friends, they are my closest friends and they have been extremely supportive over the past three years. They didn’t want me to move across the country; there were tears, probably too many farewell parties, but they knew how much I wanted to travel and to write. I moved, we all cried, but we adjusted. And now, three years later, they’re still supporting me as I try to find a job and a new place to live. Even though they really want me to move back to San Diego, they support my decision to stay and try out Chicago for awhile.

The turtle made out of a paper plate and the thumbprint bunnies Easter card:

Those little gems are from my nieces Mia and Ava, who I have blogged about before. These little hand-made delights come every so often in the mail (The real mail. I am not ready to face the fact that Mia just sent me an email the other day. She is seven. I don’t like this.) When these little gems arrive, it’s just a reminder that there is a whole other world out there. When I’m stressed and have my nose between too many books, papers to grade and another twenty pages to write, these little gems, on my board of inspiration, remind me to keep calm, to de-stress and to remember that time marches on, whether I would like it to or not, and that all will get done that needs to get done. And, when I’m finished, there’s a hand-made treasure from my nieces waiting for me in the mailbox (or maybe, soon, in the inbox. Le sigh).

The beautiful dog, Sylvia in the red scarf, and the postcard from Prague (and down there in the right corner, a few scraps of paper—suggested manuscript titles and an exquisite corpse):

Those delightful humans. My cohort has been so supportive and they are not afraid to say, “No Jenn, no, no, this will never do.” In the margins of my essays, “You can do better than this.” and “Jenn, use your big girl vocabulary.” and “Jenn, you are a poet, this is not you.” and “Um, no, just no.” And they aren’t afraid of a red pen, of an “X” across an entire paragraph or a dark, scratched line through a sentence. I am especially thankful for this. I don’t want smiley faces and check marks in the margins. I don’t want delightful notes at the end of the essay. I want to know what I can do better and where I haven’t done my best. I want the red ink; I want the paragraphs dissected and crossed out. I would do the same for them, and I have, and I am so very excited to be ending this portion of my journey and beginning the next portion with the nine people that I have been studying with the past three years.

 

What Inspires

WARNING: This blog post is a bit sappy. Hey, y’all, I’m graduating, so I can be a little sappy. This April is a bit crueller than most. I am only …

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

The Graduate Experience