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.
What does a second year graduate MFAer do with all this time?
One thing was immediately certain: I was ready to read what I wanted to read when I wanted to read it. But what else?
I received my thesis advisor assignment at the end of the fall semester. My advisor, Alexis Pride, asked me to email her over the break a packet of information complete with a thesis summary/outline and an advising timeline for the spring, including tentative submission dates, page/story goals of what I’d be submitting, and dates for us to meet and discuss what I’d submitted.
Submitting my thesis informational packet to my advisor transformed how I view my winter break. It reminded me that I had to use this time to catch my breath: to slow down while keeping in mind that I’ll have to sprint again soon.
My goal is to be able to submit the first solid 60 pages of my short story collection to my advisor when the semester begins on the 25th. I also plan to have three submission deadlines over the course of the semester. Now is the time to draft as much as possible of the collection. That way I can use the semester to tighten and revise.
The second year is that point where catching your breath doesn’t mean totally checking out from everything. Too much needs to be done. Time is precious—it goes by so quickly and yet there’s so much to do. Pacing is key.
So this break, I’m focused on my pacing. My life has slowed down but the writing, the creation, can’t stop.