Sunday, October 24, 2010

Halfway through the first quarter.

Hey fellow MFA students! I haven't posted in a while, so just as a reminder, I'm Lindsay and I'm a first year in nonfiction at Ohio State. I'm about halfway through my first quarter of courses, teaching, etc. and I thought maybe it was time for an update.

I've spent the past few weeks wondering when I'm going to wake up and realize that I completely imagined all of the amazing things that have happened since I've gotten here. I feel so incredibly lucky to be where I am. My courses are amazing -- I'm taking a nonfiction workshop with Lee Martin (!) and I honestly leave every Monday evening feeling like a better writer than when I walked in. I have to take nine credits per quarter as a TA, so I'm also taking a literature course, which is also going really well, although I have to do my first ever annotated bibliography for next Wednesday and I'm kind of starting to freak out.

Writing is going really well. I hit a few road blocks when I first got here -- performance anxiety, I think. I was having a lot of trouble putting words on the page, but I turned in my first essay last week and we're discussing it in class tomorrow. I'm really looking forward to it, but I'm also really anxious about it. (What if everyone hates it? What if it's not good enough? You know, the usual.) I'm going to start sending out to literary magazines soon, I think, and I'm planning to submit to Creative Nonfiction's MFA Program-Off, depending on how revisions go between now and the deadline.

I feel like I'm even learning these amazing things outside the classroom. We have three incredible reading series -- the student/faculty series where second years read with creative writing faculty, Mother Tongue where the MFAs read their current work a few times each year, and our visiting writer series that brings incredibly talented people to campus. It seems like there's something going on almost every Thursday night, and every time, I feel like I learn something valuable. And it's also just a lot of fun.

And then there's teaching. I sometimes feel like I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing, but I really love being in front of a classroom. I'm excited to teach something other than comp sometime in the future -- creative writing, a literature-based composition course, a second year writing course, etc. The multitude of teaching opportunities is one of the things I love most about OSU. And the training we get is honestly unmatched.

Aside from the academic side of things -- teaching, writing, classes -- things are still amazing. The people in this program are some of the best people I've met in my life. I feel like I've known these people forever. They're incredibly talented, kind, funny, and generous; I'm especially blessed to be part of an amazing cohort of first year nonfiction writers who are talented in ways I never would have imagined and yet are not the least bit cutthroat about it. I couldn't ask for better colleagues. And on top of everything, they're fun. We go out for happy hours, pizza, karaoke; today a group of us went to a "Fall Fun Fest," complete with a hayride, a corn maze, and pumpkin picking.

And Columbus? Columbus. I'm a small town girl at heart and always will be -- I miss cornfields and traffic lights that blink after 10pm like you wouldn't believe -- but Columbus has a special place in my heart already. It's an incredible city and I've yet to be disappointed by its offerings. (Even the rumor of its lack of decent Mexican food has been debunked, now that I've discovered the multitude of Taco Trucks stationed around the city.)

So, basically, my fears from this summer were completely unfounded, and I'm so grateful to have this opportunity. Sometimes I really can't believe it's real.

On a semi-unrelated note, is anyone going to NonfictioNow? I'll be there, as well as three of my fellow OSU nonfiction writers. Let me know if you'll be there -- I'd love to meet any and all of you in person!


  1. Lindsay, it sounds like your time at Ohio State is going fabulously. Honestly, I read your post with a little bit of envy! It sounds so incredible, and like you're learning a lot. Here at George Mason, we don't have a workshop first semester. We have a Forms of Nonfiction course, but we don't really workshop our pieces each week. We just do a read-around. That said, it's nice to have seven short pieces started, which I know I can adapt. I just wish I had a workshop, too.

    The community at Ohio State sounds fantastic as well! Envy envy envy! We do well here at GMU, but probably not as well as all that. And, Fairfax isn't that great. Columbus sounds wonderful! I wish I'd looked at more midwestern schools. I'm from Michigan, and it's so hard to get home from out here. It's a change, but I suppose it's a good one.

    I'm glad to hear you're doing well! And I hope to submit to the MFA-Off as well. I just have to decide what! Great update. I've been meaning to write one, myself!

  2. I love hearing more about creative non-fiction. I'm teaching comp this semester for the first time (I'm an MFA grad) at a community college and I like weaving in a lot of creative non-fiction to my discussions of reflective, informative etc essays. The students seem to love the idea of adding metaphor and such to their papers :)

    OSU is still on my list of possible places if I ever went on for a PhD so glad to hear you are having a good experience!

  3. Chrissy -- Your forms class sounds great! I'm taking a forms class next quarter and can't wait.

    Jessie -- I haven't yet figured out how to weave creative nonfiction into my composition class because of the strict curriculum we have to teach our first three quarters, but I'm hoping I can do that next quarter. I'm brainstorming ways :)


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