Marginalia, Graduate Blog

Don’t Die in the Winter

Rahsaan and I on our way to work during last year's blizzard -- we're bundled up similarly this winter too. But do you see my face? I was so over Chicago's weather.

Rahsaan and I on our way to work during last year’s blizzard—we’re bundled up similarly this winter too. But do you see my face? I was so over Chicago’s weather.

In middle school, my mother let me read one of her books on spiritual/faith-based growth entitled Don’t Die in the Winter:Your Season is ComingI can’t remember everything about it, but have since resonated with the basic gist—keep persevering, pressing through the hardships because better days are ahead.

Now that I live in Chicago, the title has shifted from being a personal aphorism to a literal maxim for survival. Don’t Die in the Super Cold, Below Zero Winter with Wind Chills Making It Even Colder: Spring is Coming.

Don’t Die in the Winter

In middle school, my mother let me read one of her books on spiritual/faith-based growth entitled Don’t Die in the Winter:Your Season is Coming. I can’t remember everything about it, but …

Creative Writing - Fiction MFA Courtney Zellars, courtney.zellars@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

Catching My Breath

Gif Source: http://giphy.com/gifs/excited-screaming-jonah-hill-5GoVLqeAOo6PK

Gif Source: http://giphy.com/gifs/excited-screaming-jonah-hill-5GoVLqeAOo6PK

Unlike some schools, Columbia College Chicago’s winter break lasts a really long time. This year’s fall semester officially ended December 18 and the spring semester won’t begin until January 25.

A month. That’s a pretty nice chunk of time.

Catching My Breath

Unlike some schools, Columbia College Chicago’s winter break lasts a really long time. This year’s fall semester officially ended December 18 and the spring semester won’t begin until January 25. …

Creative Writing - Fiction MFA Courtney Zellars, courtney.zellars@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

Life, Magic, and the MFA

Me and a few members of the Department of Creative Writing's Graduate Student Organization. (From l to r: Negesti Kaudo (Treasurer), Evan Kleekamp, me, Christopher Marnach (advisor), Jan Clay, Desiree Johnson (President) and Kelsey Hoff (Secretary) / Photo Credit: CCC News Office

Me and a few members of the Department of Creative Writing’s Graduate Student Organization. [From l to r: Negesti Kaudo (Treasurer), Evan Kleekamp, me, Christopher Marnach (advisor), Jan Gray, Desiree Johnson (President) and Kelsey Hoff (Secretary)] / Photo Credit: CCC News Office

At a house party on Halloween, a fellow MFA-er turned to me and said, “Courtney, you’re everywhere.”  A classmate a week before said something similar when she bumped into me working the front desk of the Department of Creative Writing.  Two weeks after Halloween, a professor remarked how impressed she was at my managing to consistently get writing done despite the amount of time I spent on campus.

This semester, I practically live here at Columbia College Chicago.  As Ambassador, as a Graduate Event Coordinator, as a Computer Lab assistant, as the Vice President of the Department of Creative Writing’s Graduate Student Organization, and as a Teacher’s Assistant for one of CCC’s new Big Chicago course offerings for first-semester freshmen — I really am everywhere and it really has felt great.  (Don’t tell anyone I told you this but I secretly reside in a hidden panel behind a 12th Floor bookshelf in the 624 S. Michigan Avenue building.)

Life, Magic, and the MFA

At a house party on Halloween, a fellow MFA-er turned to me and said, “Courtney, you’re everywhere.”  A classmate a week before said something similar when she bumped into me …

Creative Writing - Fiction MFA Courtney Zellars, courtney.zellars@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

The Game Changing Semester

Photo Credit: http://www.qbuzz.qnet.net/blog/2015/01/16/game-changer-2015-logo-revealed/

Photo Credit: http://www.qbuzz.qnet.net/blog/2015/01/16/game-changer-2015-logo-revealed/

This semester, my Critical Reading and Writing Class has focused on Literary Game Changers, those authors who transformed literature in such a way that we still see its effects today.  

The Game Changing Semester

This semester, my Critical Reading and Writing Class has focused on Literary Game Changers, those authors who transformed literature in such a way that we still see its effects today. …

Creative Writing - Fiction MFA Courtney Zellars, courtney.zellars@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

How Will I Know?

college-applications

I’m not the only one who was overwhelmed with college applications, right?

Is it just me or does October just seem like it’s the month of assessment and decisions?  It’s the middle of the semester, and so comes with the weight of midterms and progress check-ups.  But, it also has the personal burden of being the month before my birthday, the month where I contemplate most the direction my life is going in.  

How Will I Know?

Is it just me or does October just seem like it’s the month of assessment and decisions?  It’s the middle of the semester, and so comes with the weight of …

Creative Writing - Fiction MFA Courtney Zellars, courtney.zellars@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

Wait. What The….

Courtesy of confessionsofasomedaysomebody.wordpress.com.  I can admit that this is my face during some first reads.

Okay, let’s be honest: occasionally there are those times when reading someone’s work (classmate, colleague, or even student) where you find yourself wondering:

What the *bleep* am I reading?

Wait. What The….

Okay, let’s be honest: occasionally there are those times when reading someone’s work (classmate, colleague, or even student) where you find yourself wondering: What the *bleep* am I reading?

Creative Writing - Fiction MFA Courtney Zellars, courtney.zellars@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

A Letter to My Second Year

 

IMAG0532_1

Sheba the Queen and I caught sleeping during a late night, after-work reading/writing session. Even though I accomplished all my work, I still wasn’t ready (for this photo or for anything other than syllabus requirements).  Photo Courtesy of Rahsaan.

Dear Second Year,

I’m writing this letter to let you know, I’m ready for you.  Like, REALLY ready.  Like, it’s-about-to-go-down ready.  Like on-your-mark-get-set-wait-I’m-already-gone ready.  Like I’ve-made-outlines-and-calendars-and-to-do-lists already ready.  Yep.  That kind of ready.  

A Letter to My Second Year

  Dear Second Year, I’m writing this letter to let you know, I’m ready for you.  Like, REALLY ready.  Like, it’s-about-to-go-down ready.  Like on-your-mark-get-set-wait-I’m-already-gone ready.  Like I’ve-made-outlines-and-calendars-and-to-do-lists already ready.  Yep.  That …

Creative Writing - Fiction MFA Courtney Zellars, courtney.zellars@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

When Writing At Home Doesn’t Cut It

Summertime Lake Michigan (Photo by me)

Here I am, sitting at my desk in my apartment overlooking the city, laptop screen tilted upward, Microsoft Word open, and moleskin notebook with ballpoint pen propped at my elbow.  My fingers hover above the home row keys, waiting for a wave of creativity to press them down.  I am prepared to clack away at these keys until I’m spent.

I take a deep breath and….

When Writing At Home Doesn’t Cut It

Here I am, sitting at my desk in my apartment overlooking the city, laptop screen tilted upward, Microsoft Word open, and moleskin notebook with ballpoint pen propped at my elbow. …

Creative Writing - Fiction MFA Courtney Zellars, courtney.zellars@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

An Atypical Year with Atypical People

The Second Weekend Here

My fiance Rahsaan I our second weekend in the city! [Photo courtesy of Rahsaan Shareef]

August 1st marked my first year in Chicago.

My fiance and I drove here from DC in a UHaul with our cat Sheba meowing in her carrying-case between us. As we reminisce, it’s surreal to think of the First Years heading here from their previous life in their particular way with their specific things.

Note to Reader: There is no typical way of doing this.

An Atypical Year with Atypical People

August 1st marked my first year in Chicago. My fiance and I drove here from DC in a UHaul with our cat Sheba meowing in her carrying-case between us. As …

Creative Writing - Fiction MFA Courtney Zellars, courtney.zellars@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

Writers Who Don’t Read? Blasphemy!

There are writers out there who don’t read.

I repeat, there are writers out there who don’t read.  **cue pandemonium**

Writers Who Don’t Read? Blasphemy!

There are writers out there who don’t read. I repeat, there are writers out there who don’t read.  **cue pandemonium**

Creative Writing - Fiction MFA Courtney Zellars, courtney.zellars@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605