Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Finish Line

Well I’ve officially finished my MFA program. This past week was finals week and I turned my stuff in for the workshop I was taking and posted my grades for the class I was teaching and now I’m left with the peculiar feeling of having done everything I was supposed to do and yet knowing, still, that there’s so much more left to do.

I’ve heard people speak of the anticlimactic feeling of finishing but I would say that, although it doesn’t feel as monumental as I might have imagined three years ago, finishing does feel climactic to me. I’ve been thinking a lot the past few weeks about how sheltered I’ve been in the program and how nice it is to be part of such a sheltered community of writers. Finishing, then, really does feel like the end of an era, the final chapter of a book.

It’s scary to think about going out into “the real world,” scary to think about (probably) getting a regular job, outside of academia, where my life will no longer revolve around sharing work and talking about writing with fellow writers. I’ve made some writer friends here, and hopefully I’ll make writer friends where we’re headed, too, so that I’ll always have people with whom to share work and talk about craft. But that stuff will be pushed off into the background, now, just like writing itself will have to be. Because first you have to worry about survival – feeding your family and paying your bills.

It sort of feels like moving out of your parents house that first time. All your life they’ve clothed you, fed you, put a roof over your head, fostered your development, (hopefully) encouraged you to become what you want to become, and now they’re stepping out of the picture. For better or worse, you’re on your own. And now you have to take over the responsibilities of taking care of yourself, something you didn’t realize was such a task when somebody else was doing it for you.

But even though it’s scary, even though it feels like I’ve reached the end of a book I very much enjoyed, the light shimmering around the clouds is that I get to pick right up with a new book, and who’s to say it won’t be just as good? Who’s to say it won’t be better? Just like moving out on your own the first time, leaving an MFA program is also exciting – it feels like the start of a new adventure. Now I can put all that stuff I learned and practiced in the program to use. Now I can put myself to the test, see if I really have what it takes.

And as scared as I am right now, I still say: BRING IT!

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