Friday, June 28, 2013

More on Summer

Despite walking at the graduation ceremony in May, my technical graduation (when they send me my diploma) doesn't happen until August.  This is because I'm still finishing up my thesis, the huge project at the end of your masters that you must complete to graduate.  IU South Bend's English MA program offers two concentrations to their students - literature and creative writing.  Mine, of course, was creative writing.  Most students completing a creative writing thesis do so by writing a novella, a collection of short stories, or a collection of poetry.  I decided I wanted to write a "narrative collage." 

This is really a fabricated term for a genre where authors combine imagery with written text.  My "narrative collage" developed into a story about a girl caring for her younger brother as told through small columns of written text and anatomical images and diagrams.  Back in April, I proposed my idea to a committee in the English department, they approved it, and I began working on what would become an 85-page project.  I also had to complete a "context essay" to accompany my project discussing the history of the genre and my writing process while working on the project.  That came out around 22 pages.  Both have been read over by my committee and approved to move on to the next step - my defense.  Thankfully, this will happen much sooner than I anticipated.  I'm scheduled to "defend" my thesis next Tuesday (July 2nd) and if all goes well, I will officially be finished with my masters degree.

I am excited to return to teaching this fall as a non-student.  Juggling teaching and graduate school wasn't always easy, and I'm glad that I'll be able to put all my energy into teaching this upcoming semester.  And I'm definitely glad to have this summer free as I will need the healing time. 

After an injury back in 2006 (long story), I have had three surgeries on my hand to restore function and mobility.  Unfortunately, it's never really gotten any better and after seeing several doctors in the area who suggested treatment options that didn't help, I decided to return to my original doctor/surgeon two hours away.  To make a long story short, I'm having surgery on July 9th to fuse the MCP joint in my hand.  This will eliminate all of the problems I've been having over the years (my last surgery was in 2008)!  Although I'm not overly enthused about having yet another surgery and spending my summer vacation in a cast, I will be so happy when it's all healed up and I can return to normal life. 

Today is Friday!  That means it's date night for Justin and I.  I'm going to try to get some writing done before he gets home and finish prepping for my defense on Tuesday.  Wish me luck!

By the way, did I mention Vampire Weekend's new album is amazing!?  Go listen to it!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Music & Writing

This summer has been a productive one so far.  I made a promise to myself that I would focus on writing this summer and I've stuck to it.  Aside from writing a bunch of new poetry, I've been submitting to various literary journals and magazines in an attempt to get published.  I'm also compiling a file of what I see as my "best" poetry for possible poetry collection submissions later on to some smaller presses. 

I've definitely been in writing mode this past month and I've been loving it.  I've got a stack of journals that I carry around with me in case an idea pops up in my head at any given moment.  And I've got some nice pens (a writer always needs a nice pen).  I've been typing everything up, revising, and then looking for literary journals that fit my writing style.  The Poets & Writers website ( has been EXTREMELY helpful during this process.  They have numerous databases that list every small press and literary magazine/journal you could think of. 

Apart from writing, I've been trying to catch up on my reading list and have been trying to expand my music library.  (It always helps me to listen to good music when I'm looking for ideas for writing or just needing to get into writing mode).  My current music obsessions?  Vampire Weekend, Benjamin Gibbard, The Black Keys, fun, Foster the People...and the list goes on.  I've also become a collector of vinyls.  Justin and I went to Urban Outfitters the other day and they have an amazing selection of vinyls featuring new artists.  Too bad they go for $25 or more when I can stock up on classic artists at vintage shops for much less! 

I managed to pick up a Dean Martin vinyl yesterday at the Salvation Army (my husband is a huge fan of Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and Sammy Davis Jr.).  I've never visited the scary looking Salvation Army in downtown South Bend, but it was actually very cool.  Not only did they have a ton of records to sort through, but they had a ton of typewriters.  (Unfortunately they were all electric).  I'm looking to collect a few vintage typewriters.  Does anyone out there have one to donate to a new writer?

On top of everything else this summer, Justin and I did our first official DJ gig at a wedding reception a couple weekends ago.  We are looking to actually get into it as a side business.  If you are interested or know anyone that is interested, let us know!  We are affordable and work hard to make sure every detail of the reception is perfect.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

On Writing & Friendship

As my husband started a new job at the beginning of May, I chose to take the summer to focus on my writing.  If you know me very well, you know that writing is my passion.  I want to be an established writer, so I decided to focus this summer on submitting my writing to various literary journals and to continue expanding my writing portfolio.  I'm proud to say that I've been submitting like crazy and try to write something new on a daily basis.  I've also tried to expand my writing skills and have been focusing on writing some fiction and short stories alongside my poetry.  It's been a good summer so far, but all that time spent alone writing gives me a lot of time to think. 

One thing that has been on my mind not only this summer, but this entire year, has been my best friend, Dee.  As I wrote in my last blog post, she has been dealing with a brain tumor for the past year and just recently had three major brain surgeries.  Dee is such an outgoing, bubbly person that it has been so hard for me to watch her go through all this for the past year. 

Dee and I met when we were in the seventh grade and have been inseparable since then.  I remember the day she asked me what college I had decided to go to.  I told her IUSB and she said she had never heard of it but that she was going to go there so that we could go through college together.  She's always been so fun and spontaneous.  We roomed together all through our college years and then got an apartment together after graduation.  She was my maid of honor in my wedding.  Honestly, I think we are sisters that were switched at birth.  (Oddly enough, we were born at the same hospital three weeks apart). 

And on Tuesday Dee traveled to Indianapolis with her mom and step dad to have a checkup with her neurosurgeon.  Her step dad called me after the appointment to give me some very sad news about Dee's prognosis.  I am completely heartbroken after hearing the news, but I am still relying on God and trying to stay positive and hopeful.  I talked with Dee on Tuesday night and hearing her positivity and faithfulness is truly inspirational.  I am praying and I hope you will join me in praying for a miraculous healing for Dee.  I have faith that God is in control and am praying boldly for a miracle. 

I've learned to never take any day for granted and to appreciate every moment you get to spend with the ones you love.  I'm thankful for the time I have this summer to focus on my writing and also for the time I get to spend with my family and friends.