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Back in the Saddle: Semester 2

I returned to school this week for another round of graduate classes. I’ve doubled my workload this semester. Last semester I only took one class, and this semester, I’m taking two.

On Tuesday and Thursday afternoons I’m taking Writing the Novel. The class is being taught by Professor Chester, the same woman who taught my Writing the Short Story class last semester. There are nine students in the class, seven of which were in my short story class from last semester, so I feel pretty comfortable in there. In short story class we wrote three 5,000 word (maximum) short stories. In novel class, we’ll be writing one 50,000 novel. Technically, I suppose, that’s a novelette. In short story class we had a lot of minor assignments as we learned about description and plot and scenes and stimulus/response and story structure, but all that hand-holding is over. In novel class, once our synopsis is approved, we’ll get two grades: one for the first 25,000 words, and one for the final product. We’ve already been warned not to try and write the whole thing a week or two before it’s due. This class will definitely force me to work on my time management.

My second class is Readings in Mass Communications, which takes place on Wednesday evenings from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Although the Professional Writing department has mostly split away from the Journalism / Mass Communications / Public Relations department, requiring hopeful writers to take one class from this block reveals the program’s early roots. In this class we will be reading topical news articles each week and discussing them in class. Students will take turns leading the discussions with a 60-90 minute presentation one a topic that relates to mass communication. From the provided list I chose “Social Media,” so I should be good there. We’re also required to turn in three book reports, write an APA-style paper, and contribute to each week’s discussion. Although I don’t see any insurmountable goals in this class, it will definitely be a steady stream of work throughout the semester. Jeff and Sean, two classmates who were in my short story writing class and are also in novel writing class with me are also in this class. This class has a lot of diversity, with students from Bangladesh and Venezuela and a few with roots in Germany, so I am looking forward to hearing about issues from students with other viewpoints.

Both of these classes will require not only an increase of output but also an increase in reading. I’m trying to work on that. Each time I find myself sitting in front of the television flipping between two stupid reality programs I need to turn the television off and pick up a book. It’s a hard habit to get back into, but I’m working on it.

This semester I am still parking at the nearby Lloyd Noble center and taking the free bus from there to class. Last semester, the buses I rode were largely empty. I figured once that the capacity of the buses was roughly 60 people (that’s with a few people standing). Last semester, my 7 a.m. bus rarely had more than half a dozen students on it and my 11 a.m. ride back to the parking lot had someone between a dozen-and-a-half and two dozen. This semester has been a bit different. Both of the bus rides to the school (one at roughly 3 p.m., the other at 6 p.m.) are mostly empty. The rides back, however, are quite different. On the Tuesday and Thursday rides at 5:30 p.m., those buses are packed. On Tuesday, I ended up standing on the ride back. On Wednesdays, because class lets out so late (9:30 p.m.), the bus no longer goes from point A to point B and back; instead, it drives all over campus, picking up and dropping off people. The normally 5-7 minute ride took about 15 minutes. I’m not in an hurry to get back to my car, but it’s a new experience. Jeff, one of my classmates, has a parking pass that allows him to park right outside our building. Jeff offered me a ride back to my car Thursday after class and it was wonderful! I hope I can continue to bum rides from him at least on Tuesdays and Thursdays to avoid the crowded bus situation. Jeff mentioned that he drinks Diet Cokes and believe me, I am never above a carbonated bribe!

Last night while in novel class it hit me that I am happiest when I am sitting in a classroom, learning about something I love. I loved short story class and I already love this novel class. I know that I will learn many things throughout the duration of this program and this degree, but I already feel like between those two classes, I am closer to my goal of becoming a professional author.

(This is not my writing area, but doesn’t it look cozy?)

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1 comment to Back in the Saddle: Semester 2

  • Doc Sparx

    That’s pretty exciting to be back in school. I’m glad you are enjoying it. Sounds like a lot of fun.