Break has ended and here we are yet again. Back to the routine of graduate student life. Along with a entirely new workload of books, articles, and classmates from other cohorts. Your own cohort reunited, happily refreshed from trips to California and New York. I personally only went as far as the southwest suburbs for family festivities. Which has its own kind of renewing magic, along with its stresses. Coming back to the grit of it is less a process and more like a nose dive right into the deep end. So here is a list of the various things you’ll need to have coming back to the grind that isn’t just books and number two pencils.
The last few weeks were a time to recharge, but it will take some extra oomph to get back into the groove of things and keep it up for the next 15 weeks. Luckily, you’ll have your cohort to help you along the way. It’s the long game. Writing is going to be apart of your life and you will always be busy. Finding the time to live and write is going to be a constant struggle. Building up your stamina at Columbia will give you the tools to keep going well after the program has finished.
Come to class ready to talk about your work and the readings. It helps to speak up as you get out of this program what you put into it. The class environment is so nurturing that you need not worry about feeling wrong, because you’ll see the ways you are right.
Be ready to try new things. Writing is ever changing and the novel is not what it used to be, nor is the short story. Be willing to try on new forms and processes to challenge yourself and find out new ways to tell stories. It can be an exciting process as well as uncomfortable one. Though that is the role one takes on as a student in order to push the boundaries of their craft.
Be prepared to be wrong. We learn from faults as much as we learn from success. You can always do better and always create new ways to succeed. If you are uncertain about that motif, share it. If you don’t understand a passage in a novel, reach out to the group. Being wrong can get you the right answer. I guess this little section is less about failing and more about being unafraid to be wrong.
If you bring these thoughts and ideas into next semester you will become a better writer, a better scholar. It’s not a perfect list, but it’s a few things to consider. Graduate life constantly remolds and transforms, if you are able to change and rearrange with it, you can do it. At times you’ll have to say no a lot to people to get done what you’re here to do. The end results will be your novel, your short story collection—it will be your success as you see it.