This is my final blog as the Nonfiction Graduate Ambassador for CCC and it’s my time to reflect on the place that’s been my home, my community, and, most importantly, the well-spring of my creativity for the last three years. It’s hard to do; my wealth of thoughts and feelings are hard to summarize despite the writerly expertise I’ve accrued in these years.
There’s a famous tradition in nonfiction wherein an author will explore the topic of leaving a place and title the essay Goodbye to All That. Robert Graves wrote one about 1920’s England and Joan Didion wrote perhaps the gold standard iteration about 1960’s New York City. If you study Creative Nonfiction at Columbia College Chicago, you will read at least two essays with this title.
I had considered myself a writer before grad school, and I’d even won a few awards for my work. I knew there was much I didn’t know about craft, though. I didn’t have an editing framework and I had scarce theoretical knowledge. Mostly, I was more concerned with artifice than honesty.
Prior to grad school, I wrote as I had time to, and that would sometimes only be once or twice a month. It took this experience for my writing to become a habitual endeavor. I also learned so many generative techniques that I’ll never need worry about writers block again.
Every professor was kind and generous, as was every staff person. These individuals facilitated my education selflessly and to see me succeed was their reward. If they did not care about students, they wouldn’t be working in higher education.
I built a community of colleagues and friends with the other students on a similar journey. Because the nonfiction program is three years, I was able to connect with five overall cohorts—the two above mine, my own, and the two below mine. Because of the way classes are structured, I also made friends with many fiction writers and poets. Trust me, you can never know enough poets.
My CCC experience was everything I had hoped for; I can’t say with authority if it will be the same for you, because I am not you and CCC is a living entity where the rosters and the courses are always changing. But if you come here and you’re serious, you’ll take away what you need.
As you graduate, it’s common for people to ask you what’s next. I have the luxury of already having a full-time job, so I can be a bit more judicious about my next move. I’ve found that I enjoy teaching, and have been applying to a few universities to teach a class here and there. I’m also applying for full-time jobs in industries more in tune with my new expertise, such as editorial or creative director gigs.
Most importantly, I will continue to shape my thesis into a book and then attempt to get it published. I have reasonable confidence that I’ll be successful. I can’t not continue the momentum I have built up during my time at CCC. I leave here with so much more knowledge and so many new connections; the possibilities truly are endless.
So, hello to all this!