The New Year has dawned, and I don’t have a list of Resolutions for myself. For the past handful of years, I can name the “goals” I made for myself, even if they were fun ones that didn’t involve self-improvement. But this year, I decided that if I made progress or improvements, then so be it, but I wasn’t going to be scoring myself day-to-day on a succeed/fail basis.
This went hand-in-hand with the prediction that my month-long break from classes was going to be spent relaxing and recharging. When I ended the Fall Semester in December, my cohort and I all shared our desires for the break: read X amount of books, revise Y story, submit to this-many publications… and those are all admirable and even (for us) enjoyable tasks. But once I got home, high school friends called me up, my family wanted game nights, sleeping in until noon became a (slightly problematic) habit. I was two weeks into the break and had only finished reading half of a novel.
But it’s fine. I don’t feel like I wasted time, and I don’t feel the stress that comes with procrastinating. I somehow mentally prepared myself to understand that, as both a writer and a grad student, I needed this time to be fluid. I’m approaching my thesis development semester, so I’m going to have 15 weeks dedicated to thinking about and working on and being consumed with my writing and classes. I can allow myself these 4 weeks to be lazy.
I still find myself putting in ten minutes here and there to jot down some ideas, or type out a messy scene, because that’s part of how I function as a human being. I can’t stay away from the writing even while on vacation. But I think by lifting the pressure that I need to be writing, I was free to actually write more often.
A slight shift: There’s also this weird in-between feeling of being “home.” Living in Chicago for the three years of the MFA Program technically means you could call the Windy City home. But you can also call where your parents live and where you went to high school home. For me, it always ends up being where I’m not: in Chicago, Texas is home. While in Texas during break, Chicago is home. I’m comfortable in both places, but I always feel the tug of needing to go back to the other.
Right now, I’m recording just over three weeks in Texas, so I’m definitely ready to go back to Chicago. This break has been good for me: reenergizing and relaxing and perspective-giving. But like I said, I haven’t done as much in the world of literature. Surprisingly, in my little hometown in Texas, there’s too much stimulus and too many distractions. I need the steady routine of Chicago and its background busy-ness to focus me for the upcoming semester.
It’s tricking finding balance in rest time and work time. But you’re not the only one experimenting with the formula! Another reason I’m so ready to be back is because, yes, I miss my cohort. I’ve said so before in other blogs, but it’s so true: having a group of people that are going through the same trials and triumphs is an enormous gift. And there’s nothing like the warmth of a loving family to fuel you – and I mean that in both “home” senses.