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    Back to School

    Categories: MFA Confidential Blog.

    Well, this week is back to school at Columbia, although I don’t personally have class until Thursday. I’m definitely ready to go back, to catch up with people I haven’t seen over the break and to get more guided instruction time with my writing.

    This is kind of a transitional semester for me: I’m only taking one class, and the rest of my credit I’m getting through thesis hours and a manuscript consultation. I’m actually very excited about all of this. The class I’m taking is for our school literary anthology—as far as I know, it consists largely of reading student work and then arguing with my classmates about what should make the cut. I think it will be an interesting experience to be on the other end of the slush pile (although I’m assuming the caliber of work will be higher since all the pieces we read are submitted by professors) and to get a better idea of what kinds of things my fellow students are trying out in their work.

    I did the manuscript consultation last year, with our visiting author Alexander Hemon, and once I got over my awe and intimidation (his novel, The Lazarus Project, blew me away), I found his advice really helpful. After meeting with him, I changed a chapter from what was turning out to be a soggy, directionless novel into a much-improved stand-alone short story. This year, our visiting writer is Gerard Woodward, a British novelist who has received many accolades for his work, and who I am equally intimidated and equally excited to meet and share my work with.

    And finally, because I now have an official thesis advisor, the wonderful Alexis Pride, and because I am registered for thesis hours, I feel like this is the semester where my short story collection about high school teachers at a fictional Chicago school is going to finally take shape.

    I’ll check back in on Friday and let you know how it all goes!

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