Tuesday, July 29, 2008
"So, How Does It Feel?"
"So, how does it feel?"
Every time in my life when I have been asked this question, I have never known what to say except perhaps, "I'm not sure yet. Check back in a few days/weeks/months."
People asked it after I got married, after my horse qualified for a major national event, after I gave birth the first time, after I had my first publication…..and just recently, after I finished an MFA program.
How does it feel?
How about disconcerting? Relieved. Sad. A little bewildering. Proud. Worried. Unmoored. And, inevitably, not much different.
The degree is an accomplishment, yes. But I still feel like a struggling writer, meaning not one who struggles to write, but who struggles daily with trying to write better, to write something of value, to write to a higher standard than yesterday. That struggle, I know, will -- and should – go on, regardless of any courses, degrees, publications or paychecks. So that part feels rather the same.
Yet, as I sit at my desk each morning, at least one thing does feel different.
I'm a deadline person. Deadlines are my friends. Give me a deadline and I am a productive person. Things get done. Ideas turn into copy and drafts become editable manuscripts. Deadlines mean I am in action. [OK, for those who know me, I admit yes, I am a pretty disciplined person anyway, deadlines or not. But a deadline helps, always.] And so, with the absence of academic deadlines, coupled with it being the middle of summer (translation: kids are home, and bored) I'm a bit adrift.
Which is not to say I don't have deadlines -- from magazine, newspaper and book editors for whom I'd doing freelance articles and essays. I do (thank God, I do). But a deadline for the "real world," for some insane reason, doesn't seem to have the power of a deadline for "school" – to others and sometimes, to me. Used to be, I'd close the office door, tell everyone – kids, husband, friends, relatives, the PTA -- "I have a grad school deadline," and that was that. Don't bother Mom/Lisa, she's got a school deadline, they'd say, and quietly go away. Now, not so easy.
I always meet all those real-world deadlines, just as I did with MFA deadlines, and I'm often early (I do want to keep working), always trying to impress an editor. But somehow those deadlines just don't feel quite the same.
So for those who want to know "how does it feel" to be done -- with an all-consuming two-year MFA program which took over much of my life -- that's the answer.
The same, and different.
But, you might want to check back in a few months or weeks or days.