Lots of news on the graduate school front – some good, some not so good. Yesterday, I found out that I did not get into the MFA Program at Pacific University. Strangely, I was not upset. Pacific has an amazing program that I’d be lucky to attend, but to be quite honest, traveling to Oregon twice a year would be quite expensive AND I’m actually becoming more enamored with the program at Queens University every day.
On that note, remember when I mentioned the Virginia Festival of the Book program that I’d miss out on because of work? Well, I pulled a few strings (just kidding – actually we were simply overstaffed) and got to go!
I met up with the instructor of the writing class I just finished and her boyfriend, after having left McGs at 7:45 for a program that I didn’t yet have a ticket to that began at 8 on the Downtown Mall. Somehow I managed to change my shirt and shoes in my car (after parking, of course), talk to a former co-worker I ran into on the mall, and still make it in plenty of time to buy a ticket, sit down, and chat before the program started.
I was pretty much there to see Elizabeth Strout, since I’m madly researching programs that are realistic options for me, but the entire panel of writers was amazing. Not just ES, but Lee Smith, E. Ethelbert Miller, and Colum McCann – all right in front of me onstage! I’ll admit, I was a little starstruck. How much of a nerd am I? Anyway, ES read from Olive Kitteridge, which I finally started reading today. I got such a great vibe from her, as silly as that may sound. The way that she interacted with the audience during the Q & A reminded me so much of the way my thesis advisor from college interacted with her students – and yes, I mean the advisor I completely adore and with whom I work incredibly well.
ES was asked a question about her teaching life – and she said that 1) she loves to teach her students how to read – to read voices that compliment theirs, and voices that are completely different from their own and 2) that she loves to remind her students that they don’t always have to finish something. In fact, her exact words were “You know, I just tell them – do something! And then do it again!” Obviously, I liked her. A lot. And I am so insanely glad that I got to attend the program.
Here’s the really exciting part – I got to meet her briefly afterward! I stood (bookless – oops) in the book-signing line, and quickly introduced myself and told her I’d just gotten into the program at Queens. She was gracious, honest, and attentive, and after we chatted for a minute or two she said “Make sure you find me when you get there! If, you know, you don’t get assigned to me!”
I know that I’m still waiting for news from so many programs, but it’s so exciting and refreshing to see a real person and shake the real hand of a talented writer that I could really work with! I mean, she won a Pulitzer Prize, for goodness’ sake – and she could be my professor! All I’m saying is that it was a great experience, a worthwhile program, and that I can’t wait to see what the future holds. And that’s a great feeling – being hopeful and satisfied to start off the week. Not a bad outcome from a $10 ticket transaction and a quick jog down the mall on a Saturday night, huh?