About a week or so has passed since the start of the school year. I’ve had this kind of phantom limb feeling about not having classes. I honestly woke up one morning ready to check for assignments! Funnily enough I’m still in the city twice a week until 7 p.m. working my other job. Feels just like night class. I’m going to tell you right now that I already miss it. The discourse about novels. The intimate analysis of examining a short story among like-minded individuals. The homework I miss a lot less, but getting the chance to cultivate your own ideas, and the feeling you get from appraisal by experts like your professors…you are going to miss that ego boost! In the third year of your MFA program, you are going to have to be your own expert in some ways. Experts are always learning whenever they can. They still have workshops, go to book clubs, and buy books on craft. In the third year, you will have to learn how you best continue your education as an intellectual. The great thing is that your cohort is always a resource, although one thing I’ve learned is that every cohort is different. Shocking I’m sure. For an example, the last third years had the ability to meet up for workshops more frequently. My cohort has extremely different schedules and different lives. This means a lot of us are not able to meet up in a larger group. Being a native Chicagoan I have a lot of friends and family here, so at times it gets really hard to schedule everyone. In graduate school, you make a ton of social sacrifices, but the thing is that you will do that for the rest of your life as an artist. Better to get used to it now. Find those people in your cohort who you can meet with and plan mini-workshops—it will KEEP YOU ACCOUNTABLE.
If you want to keep discussing books and maybe, although highly unlikely, none of your cohort wants to read a book with you, there are a lot of places to find book clubs around the city. Volumes Bookstore in Wicker Park has at least 4 different book clubs with different themes and identities as its focus. And lastly, if you are looking for an ego boost about your work…send your stuff to the nicest family member or friend that you have! The ones that just tell you “that was amazing! Best thing I’ve read!” Sometimes you just want to be told you are good enough. There is nothing wrong with that. But let me tell you that right now you are truly good enough, and no one can validate you more than yourself.