A Letter to My Second Year

A Letter to My Second Year



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.  Looking back at the start of my first year, I don’t know what I was ready to do then.  All I was really prepared to do was be a great student again.  (Sadly, the Academic System has trained me not how to start a career or to do what I love or to make money, but to be a Straight A Student).

But see, that’s one sign I wasn’t ready for much.  Columbia College Chicago’s motto is Live What You Love.  Surprisingly, living what you love has very little to do with grades or tests or GPAs.  I don’t think I understood this at all in my undergrad years and may not have fully grasped this in the first week last year but by the end of my first semester, I realized pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing, at Columbia College Chicago no less, has NOTHING to do with grades.  The grades have less to do with the art or the passion itself than it does the sincerity of the effort.

I believe the real marker of academic proficiency is when the student is able to create her/his own set of outcomes and indicators of achievement in conjunction with those of the professors.  Last year, my only goal was to thoroughly complete all my assignments.  In my defense, it was a pretty solid goal since there were mandatory writing assignments almost every week and plenty of reading also.  By the end of the year, though, all I had accomplished was what someone else had wanted me to do.  And, there was still so much more that I wanted to for myself.


Oh, the many nights of close reading – an insightfully new (to me and most of my cohort) way of reading and responding to what’s on the page in a piece, taught by Nami Mun.

THIS year, though, I come with needs to be met.  Goals that are already set, like:

  • Finish my 2015 Reading Challenge on Goodreads (Goal: to read 50 books this year. I’m at 23 as of now — that’s 11 books behind schedule but I have faith).
  • Write for myself (not for assignments/class) at least an hour a day (but hopefully an average of 2-4 total hours a day).
  • Spend at least 2 hours a day reading/living away from a screen or device (laptop, phone, TV, etc.)

By the end of this semester, I hope to see…

  • A more complete/solid thesis.  I currently have 2.5 pieces in my novel-in-stories complete.  By December, I’d like to have it completed (even if it’s rough; this way I can see at least where my ideas are trying to take me).
  • A more focused and determined Writer/Creator-me.  (No more days-turning-into-weeks of distractions.  I will try to keep the pen moving and the pages turning, even if I have no idea where something is going  or whether I like it or if it’s “good”).
  • An essay or two or five written (yep, along with writing fiction, I plan to commit to some of those essay ideas I’ve had marinating since my Story & Performance course with Professor Bobby B. last Fall).
Courtney's Daily Schedule

To show you (and myself) how serious I am, I’ve created a daily schedule that is now posted by my desk, placed inside my work binder, and found folded in my agenda. That way I’ll always know what needs to be done and the reminders should deter distractions, right?

It’s very ambitious, I know.  And everything may not get accomplished.  But like I said, I’m ready.  And yeah, I’m excited for my courses in Advanced Workshop with Sam Park, Literature Seminar on Literary Modernisms with Deborah Holdstein, and Literary Game Changers with Alexis Pride (possible blog of them to come?).  I’m excited and I’m ready for anything they throw my way.  This is just me telling you I’m also excited for everything I’m throwing my way.


The Writer That’s Ready

PS; [added a week into the school year, after reviewing all of the syllabi] Maybe this semester’s going to be more intense than thought….