Friday, December 20, 2013

The Next Step

By Susan

All of us here at What Women Write have been pretty open about our writing journeys—our dreams and fears, our habits and pitfalls. Sometimes things work out exactly how we imagined they would. And then at other times? We have to be careful what we wish for.
This year my writing path has taken several interesting turns. At each fork in the road I've been forced to make decisions, and sometimes I've made choices I couldn't foresee happening. I'm still writing short stories and poetry. I still blog twice a month here, on What Women Write, and I post daily insights and thoughts on my personal blog. 
And my novel is still "in the works." After tearing it apart and rebuilding it over the course of the past twelve months, the manuscript and I have come to a standoff series of agreements. The first is that the manuscript is in charge, not me. The second is that I can't rush the donkey—and right now, my novel-in-progress is most definitely acting like an ass. The third is that in order for me to stretch my potential as a writer to where I want to be, a big decision is required.
My novel-in-progress looks like this: sweet, but stubborn.
For me, that decision was to apply to graduate school.
After years of thinking about it, researching schools and surveying my friends regarding their experiences with different programs, I finally took the plunge and applied for my Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing.  I choose a low residency option through the University of Tampa, a three-year-old program with lots of potential. After careful deliberation, discussion and due diligence, I hit send on my application and waited.
The acceptance, followed quickly by a scholarship offer, accelerated my writing trajectory. I was suddenly tasked with exciting ideas like writing samples, coursework, and required readings. At the same time, I was inundated with the minutia of university life: questions like housing for my residencies, submitting a photo for my student ID, and dealing with the bursar's office. I graduated with my BA twenty years ago. Being a student again feels both thrilling and terrifying.
By the time I write my next post on January 3, 2014, I'll be in Tampa for the first of my five residencies. I'm both overwhelmed and exhilarated at the thought of what's ahead of me: things to learn, books to read, papers to write. Of course, throughout it all, I'll bring the donkey with me, and between the two of us, we'll continue to plow the field.
Going in to a new year is a clear demarkation of out with the old, and in with the new. What are you planning to keep or to throw away? How will your writing trajectory change in 2014? You can wait-and-see, or make some big decisions for yourself. Which will it be?


  1. I'm so excited to see what the donkey becomes in the New Year. Here's hoping he's not nearly as stubborn as he has been in the past. And I'm so proud of you for jumping in and tackling grad school! It's a big commitment and I'm sure you'll do great.

  2. Thank you, P :-) I have no idea what's going to happen next, but I think 2014 is going to be a good year!


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