As alluded to on Monday and painfully obvious from the paucity of posts over the past several months, post-thesis life has been an adjustment for Mots Justes. I (naively) thought that after putting the blog on hiatus for a month during the final throes of my thesis, I would be able to pick it right back up again. Then my deadline got extended, and MJ was dark for two months. By then, it was the holidays. Although prioritizing finishing my novel was the responsible thing to do, MJ hasn’t recovered.
I tell myself that this is all just part of the cycle—intense work followed by fallow periods. This same pattern occurred for me on a smaller scale when I was an editor at a monthly magazine: I would pull a string of crazy all-nighters up until the book was shipped, and follow them up with long, leisurely lunches.
MJ is not the only project that has suffered. My writing has, too. Although the book still needs work, lots of it—research, development—I haven’t looked at it since I handed it in.
I hope that changes this week. MJ is in Chicago for the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference and Bookfair—just the kick start I need.
I’ve never been to AWP before. I don’t know what to expect. There’s a Bookfair, of course—I hope there’s extra room in my luggage for new tomes—and seminars, ten to twenty to choose from during each time slot, six time slots per day. This can all get a little overwhelming. It will help to set some goals:
- Represent and promote my program. Although I’ve officially graduated from my master’s program, I can’t seem to let go of my department, or it of me. Our alumni association graciously provided a scholarship for my trip here, an opportunity to take our literary journal out into the world. So I’ll be working the booth for a few hours, selling SCR.
- Become a better writer by attending panels on writing the first novel, writing about illness, and writing against a Midwest backdrop.
- Become a better editor at seminars on running the literary magazine and passing the torch when your time as editor is up.
- Become a better administrator by learning how to apply for grants and fellowships.
- Network. I also want to meet other writers, editors, and administrators and pick their brains about all of the above.
- Experience Chicago. Already I’ve been to the Goodman Theater to see O’Neill’s Desire Under the Elms, starring Brian Dennehy. Tonight my colleagues from Los Angeles are heading out to Second City. Jazz at the Green Mill is also on the schedule. I’m looking forward to getting out into the city with my friends and associates.
Note to readers: it turns out that the “nominal fee” for wireless connectivity at the host hotel is $7.50/hour or $16.95/day! As those rates are out of my—or many writers’—reach (see yesterday’s post), I will be blogging from the Caribou Coffee around the corner. That is, when there’s a table available.