I am halfway through my last residency for my MFA. As I head towards graduation there are many things I’m saying goodbye to: the opportunity to exist in a writing bubble twice a year, the camaraderie, the games, the workshops, lectures, the enforcement of community… The mentor pairings list went up last night and for the first time, I had no investment in it. I am more sad about the mentors I didn’t get to work with. I came up with plans that would force me to stay: what if I failed my lecture? How about if I don’t show up for my workshop, which is mandatory? What if I act so inappropriately, they force me to take an incomplete, and come back next semester? Of course, my lecture went nicely, I AM showing up for my workshop, and I don’t want to ruin the MFA’s reputation or my own.
So how do I prepare myself to live in the writing world as a full writer, and not a writing student?
I have a strong network of friends and mentors that are still willing to read my work long after I’ve gone. I know I can send them things to be critiqued. I jump on every opportunity I can find on Facebook and Twitter (so far, this alone has led to multiple book reviews, experience editing a journal, and a poetry anthology I am now co-editing because I mad a flippant comment on what kind of anthology I would like to see). I will pick the brains of the mentors in my program one last time on the writing life and publishing. I will continue to connect with fellow alumni.
There points in our lives when a period ends, and we see the end coming. This feels tragic, depending on how much you felt enriched by the experience. BUT. Seeing the end coming means you have the chance to prepare for it, the chance to ask every last question you had, to say goodbye properly, to give yourself a send-off you feel is worthy. As I continue to write, I know that I will look back on the lecture notes I’ve saved as if they were love letters. My love letters to my MFA family have yet to be written, but will be evident in every piece I publish from now on.