For those few loyal readers who drop by to see whether I’m still alive, I hope to post a little more often over the break. I’m in the throes of grading 50 student portfolios, replete with extra revisions-of-revisions, and needing to turn in a final project of my own, as well. As that project depends heavily on the grading-in-progress… well, you get the idea. It’s been another brutal semester of nine actual (not research) hours of coursework on top of teaching. Next semester I will have completed all my required coursework for the doctorate.
This, friends, is why I don’t go to poetry readings, publish a lot of poetry (or much else), or get my hurr did.
Why the rush? Unfortunately, it has everything to do with finances. At this point, I’ve got umpteen-tens-of-thousands in student loans and interest beginning to snowball.
I had this idea that, as a doctoral student in poetry, I’d spend weeks luxuriating over this or that book. Nope. I’m hoping that this will be the case next year as I begin reading systematically for comps.
Meanwhile, I feel the urgency of my own (neglected) writing. I have an editor prodding me for a book, but the most I can come up with right now is a chapbook. I have a novel that has been on hold for a few years and that I want desperately to finish. I also have the burning desire to publish a collection of essays. Herein lies the difference between an M.F.A. and a Ph.D., for those who are still wondering.
Today, my mother was quizzing me about my lack of output as we wandered through the bookstore.
“I hate to be one of those mothers who says ‘My daughter is a wonderful poet,'” she said, “but you really are. I know you’ve got the goods.”
Gesturing at the shelves, I answered, “I can do that. I can do that.”
So what gives?
She said out loud what I thought was a secret I should never tell anyone. “You need to write something that’s not for school and not on some artificial timetable.”
Hold that thought while I finish grading.