Much has happened to me since I blogged here:
For one thing, I think that my blog now has a new home. Essentially, Blogger added ads to my blog and I cannot seem to get them off. Eventually, I gave up and took a look at this new blogging tool and while I’m still working out the kinks, I think there is something transformative about moving to a new home after one has gone through a personal evolution.
As I had imported all of my blog posts from Blogger, I had the opportunity to review everything I had written over the last two years and I think that there are many themes-most of them about my author obsessions and book boyfriends-but also a lot about my writing process. Some of it seemed incredibly naive, but endearingly so, and I think that as much as I’ve written about the things that I have discovered, there is still so much I’m still figuring out. That is part of the fun of being a writer and embracing the writing life.
The last six months I was finishing my MFA at VCFA and the word “intensive” doesn’t even describe what was happening. It was incredible to soak up all that I could working with my last faculty advisor, Sarah Ellis, so when I wasn’t at my day job and doing on some freelance work, I was devoted to finishing my creative thesis and creating my graduate lecture.
We also have to do a Graduate Reading, which, for me, was definitely scarier than the lecture. Having talked about book boyfriends and the perfect man archetype to a group before, I wasn’t that nervous, but very few people had seen or heard my WIP. I had read snippets in readings, but what I was about to read to my peers, parents, and partner represented a part of me that was raw and vulnerable-and that wasn’t just the “thank yous.”
On January 19th, I graduated with my Dystropians from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Martine Leavitt’s speech really encapsulates what the last two years have school have been like. And what it means to move forward. Indeed, my Facebook profile was plastered with pictures.
What I can say is that I’ve met an incredibly community of authors and people. I’ve written about this before, but given what I’ve seen in some of the environments that I’ve unfortunately have experienced in the past, this is a precious. The people you see below, I know that you will hear more from.
The thing that is the challenge for me is honouring this success, particularly when one returns to their life and keeping a constant reminder of what I accomplished becomes more and more difficult. I keep wanting to write, “Melanie Fishbane, M.F.A. Bitches” on my email signature-don’t worry, I don’t. But I’ve got my visual cues. Those band of Dystropians are my desk top at work and I have my VCFA mug to drink my coffee out of (Thanks, Dad!) and my diploma on my desk at home.
In our lives, we forget to honour those things that had meaning. Usually the self-help books that I’ve read are all about destination, not about how to take in and enjoy the success once we’ve achieved it. I have been doing what I can to honour myself and what I’ve done, but I also am plagued with the “what next” questions and what I’m going to do with my MFA. How I’m going to give back to my community of writers?
It was nice to come back to a few projects, some awards that I’m adjudicating and some freelance work. Look at me, sitting on awards and having some freelance work. Two years ago I couldn’t have really said that. And that is something, too. Honouring this. I think that there is a part of me that worries that I’m being too full of myself or that I’m being too boastful. Maybe if I even get too excited the gods will know and start screwing around with me. I know that this is not real, but I think it is part of my old tape recording that continues to play.
My abstract for a book of essays about Montgomery’s life in Ontario was accepted and I’ve been researching and working on that the last few weeks. I admit that I have found this research a little slow going. Mostly because I’ve been reading a lot about the later half of her life and most of it is so heart-wrenching that I can hardly read it without my stomach churning. This is where I know the emotional drive lives and what I will end up writing about in my essay.
My goal is to have the first draft of my WIP by the end of April and then I’ll start querying this year. That part seems the scariest of them all. More scary that going to grad school. But I’m getting ahead of myself and for now I must embrace this success.
I’m hoping that all of that processing that I used to do in school will find its way back here.
But for now, I’m Melanie J. Fishbane, M.F.A.
And, that is enough…