Grad school is almost done. There are days when I feel like I should be wearing a sandwich board and walking around shouting “The end is nigh!” But honestly, mostly I just feel relief. A lot of pressure off my back.
What has grad school been like? Well, to be honest – busy. Time consuming. All encompassing. Let me break down how the program works:
Every student must write a thesis which is a novel. They must produce between 20-40 pages per month that they then submit to their mentors (you have two – one for the first two semesters, one for the final three) and 2 – 3 critique partners. You are also responsible for critiquing and providing feedback for your critique partners. You should have your thesis finished by your third semester so that you can go through revisions in the fourth and fifth semesters.
In addition, you are taking a class. For the first three semesters, those are Readings in Genre. I took Classic Fantasy, Noir Mystery, and Thrillers. The fourth semester is Teaching Popular Fiction which culminates in you actually teaching a class during residency. The fifth semester is Writing About Popular Fiction which encompasses a lot of stuff about readers, understanding the market, query letters, and so forth.
Twice a year (June and January), we go out to Seton Hill and have a week long residency. Lots of classes, lectures, and other stuff. If you are a graduating student, you get to present/defense your thesis. That’s what I am preparing to do now. Whole lotta speaking practice.
My entire brain has been wrapped up in this program. During the teaching semester, I actually used all of my vacation to take time off for studying (an hour per day spread out over the semester). All of this and I’m also working a 40+ hour/week job.
And it’s coming to an end. Cliche as it may be, there is a heavy weight lifting from my shoulders. Each week, it gets a little easier. What comes next? I’m not entirely sure. Another revision on my thesis and then send it out to market. I’ve had some short conversations with the college I work for about teaching classes and I might follow up on that. I don’t know just yet. Somewhere in there, we’re going to find time for a vacation. Steph and I haven’t been able to do more than a weekend away since the program started 2.5 years ago. I think we’ve both earned it.
A very long journey but one that I am happy to have made.