last Friday, I trekked to New Hampshire for the night to participate in a reading organized by the interim director to showcase current m.f.a. candidates, graduates, and a faculty member. I was honored to be included among the ten readers.
the evening began with a graduate, who ended his reading by singing a few lyrics included in his piece. that was hard to follow, especially as my printed-out reading wanted to leap off the podium and we had to hold the microphone as we read. but, I made it through and the faculty member called my reading “wonderfully gritty,” which made my night.
then I got to relax and listen to the remaining readings, which were as excellent as the first and over far too soon. what followed was time to catch up with friends from the program, meet significant others, and meet a new baby my friend and his wife had (she’s super cute).
I thought i’d be more nervous to stand at a podium and read my work into a microphone in public. i’d done so at residency, but the audience there was made up of my fellow students and the faculty. but, I don’t feel like I read too fast or too quietly, and I remembered to make eye contact with people i’d never met before.
all in all, a success.
as a bonus, it was followed by drinks for a friend’s birthday at a speakeasy—complete with secret sliding wall.
this evening I had a call with my mentor. I always find these calls both helpful and motivational. here’s a brief breakdown of what we discussed:
my final thesis submission
we decided i’d be better off submitting the first 30 chapters or so for my final submission. my mentor has seen a draft of the whole novel, so I have feedback on it. he confirmed that i’m in good shape for where I am in the semester and it’s better to submit a final thesis that’s shorter and of a higher caliber than a full-length, but somewhat rushed, novel.
what does this mean for my plans for the novel? it means slowing down. it means taking my time to dive down research rabbit holes. it means the book might not be ready to query by the end of the year and that’s fine. i’m cool with it because i’d rather the book be its best.
plotting and character motivations
there were a few choices my characters made that weren’t convincing because while not a first draft, the submission I sent of the last part of my novel was still an early draft.
my mentor and I discussed different ways to get the characters to experience the story, and I feel confident now that i’ve landed in a good place with it. there will be some changes to be made, but they’re not as massive as I feared they might be.
i’ve noted the changes we discussed, but before I implement them, i’ll dive into research.
what does this mean for the rest of my semester? it means spending a day or two on each micro-chapter. it means having time to revisit important spots and having time to reread the whole submission. it means time to proofread.
my last deadline is four weeks from yesterday. tonight, I feel great about my progress and the work that remains. I feel great about the work i’ll do after my last deadline for the program. I feel great about the resolution that my thesis doesn’t need to be the whole book.
this is what comes of having a mentor. of talking to someone who has been where I am.