Thinking about trying to find a community here–book clubs, like maddy suggested, Stitch n’ Bitches, as Kelly mentioned, and practicing exuding the magnetism ms. michelle talks about–and I thought, oh hey, there are colleges around here. I should see if any of them have classes, seminars, readings, something. Other writers! That’s what I need. We are all of us crazy and broken. Crazy broken friends will make me feel right at home. Poking around the state college website, kind of wishing I could get my MFA all over again–that’s where I met some of my favorite people in San Francisco.
Hey, they do have an M.F.A. And a what now? Wait, really? Stopping, stuttering, when I realized that I could get a Ph.D. in creative writing, at the state university. The idea bursting full-bloom in my head holy crap, I can get a Ph.D. in creative writing and sounding completely, totally insane, ridiculous, like mad raving lunatic madness, and such a brilliant idea I could hardly stand it.
Doing some research–it’s a good school. It’s a prestigious program!
It’s–huh, way more prestigious than where I got my M.F.A. Though I knew
my school wasn’t setting the academic world on fire, and I was okay
with that, and more than okay with my professors, who were passionate,
and my classes, which were so good, and all the writing I did, which
was a lot, after I got over my breakdown. A lot of nostalgia, rushing
in, sloshing around my head. I loved graduate school. I loved reading
and writing and learning and working and being all studious and
industrious. I did not love having a nervous breakdown, writer’s
block, dropping out briefly. That wasn’t so good. Will a Ph.D. program
destroy me? Probably it will. But I could be a doctor. Of creative
writing. That is both hilarious and lovely.
Reading the website–students are supported financially throughout the
program. Assistanceships, fellowships. Medical insurance. Workshops,
plus literature classes. A creative thesis. Teaching. Oh no no,
teaching scares the living shit out of me. But doing things that scare
the hell out of me is good for me. I shrink away too much, curl up and
bow my head and show my neck too often. I give up too easily.
Sometimes, I never start at all. I need to do the things that scare me
more often. I need to shake things up.
I don’t know if I can live here for four years, minimum. I expected to
be here about a year, maybe a little longer, depending on how things
shake out. I was flexible. Good things, to those who wait. But four
years? Plus whatever time it takes me to lose my mind over my
dissertation and fall apart and put myself back together, as is likely
to happen? More than four years. It could be worth it, though. It could be. A
community of writers. Well-known faculty. A literary magazine that’s
respected, that I could be a part of, as an editor. Participating in a
reading series. A deeper, broader grounding in literature. Learning
more than I currently know about writing–which isn’t much. Getting my
ass kicked–writewritewritewrite. Thinking critically, which is good for
my brain. Being able to maybe drop the proofreading gig? Having to take
the GRE, oh god.
This isn’t what I came out here to do, to go to school. This is an
unexpected, startling, insane idea that has fallen into my lap and is
waiting to be acknowledged. I could do this–apply, anyway. Maybe not
get in. But what if I got in? What if (and this is something I hesitate
to say, because I am not this kind of person), what if this was what I
was meant to do? Why things worked out the way they did, and I headed
out here? What if that is not true at all and that there is a Ph.D. in
creative writing just a few towns away is a coincidence? I’m okay with
that too. But I like the idea of meant to bes and fate and destiny and
going back to school where maybe I am grown up enough to do it right
and not fall apart, maybe. I don’t know. It is an intriguing,
beguiling, wonderful idea. A hell of a possibility. A yes or a no? I