Irish Proverb: There's trouble in every house and some in the street

Another Semester in the Books

Sunday, while Susan and the kids were at the mall finishing up some Christmas shopping, I submitted my final paper of the year, bringing the end to another semester of school.

This semester I “only” took six credit hours in the form of three classes, compared to the spring semester when I took 10 credit hours. I still wonder how I managed to pull that off. This semester I took Autobiography in Adult Education, Independent Study (essay/short story writing), and Project, in which I wrote 40,000 words of a novel.

Last spring I finally hit that magical 2:1 ratio by putting in two hours of work at home for every hour I spent inside a classroom. When you take ten credit hours, that means dedicating a total of thirty hours a week to school. My workload this semester was similar. Autobiographies in Adult Education was the first and only online class I’ve taken for my degree. It was three credit hours, and I’d estimate I averaged three hours reading and three hours writing a week for that class. My Independent Study class was only one credit hour. The amount of time I spent writing for that class varied, but I’d estimate it was about one hour each week. Finally, in Project, I was required to turn in a new chapter of my novel every week. While Project only counted for two credit hours, I spent about eight hours a week writing and editing my novel. So for six credit hours, I spent twelves hours a week outside of class writing. I guess that 2:1 ratio is here to stay.

At the end of each semester, my body shuts down for a day or two. It is, I believe, the physical manifestation of stress leaving my body. Sixteen weeks worth of writing, stress, balancing work-life-school and trying to maintain my 4.0 average takes its toll. Friday evening, it was all I could do to stay awake until bedtime. Saturday, I alternated between taking naps in the living room, naps in the bedroom, and long baths. On Sunday, I must have taken three or four naps in my recliner. This morning, I feel better.

As of today, I’ve completed 30/32 hours required for my Master of Professional Writing degree. In six weeks I’ll start my final semester — one more round of Project, in which I’ll finish up my novel and prepare to defend it before a panel of professors who also happen to be published authors. No pressure.

With a risk of sounding like some sort of award acceptance speech, I have to thank Susan and the kids for all their understanding and patience over the past year. Writing, especially under deadlines, is a solitary and often lonely practice. Several times a week, I disappear to my upstairs office to poke words into a keyboard. I’m going to make all of this worth it guys, I promise.

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